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A gift of Siddur Sha'ar Zahav

July 11, 2010

A few photos of me giving Sidur Sha'ar Zahav to President Shimon Peres inside his home in Jerusalem. Two of us were selected to provide a gift during our visit. The other gift was from Samuel "Bodi" Bodenheimer, who played a beautiful song on the piano. Standing with us is Ami Mehl, Director of the Jewish Communities Department with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Day four of the Israel Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Seminar began at the President Shimon Peres home in Jerusalem.  He was elected to the post in 2007 as the 9th President of Israel. He was born in Belarus in 1923, and immigrated to Israel at the age of 11 growing up on Kibbutz Alumot just south of the Sea of Galilee.

As a proud member of San Francisco’s progressive Reform synagogue, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, I could not think of a better gift to give him that represents the pluralism of the community I come from than our prayerbook, Siddur Sha’ar Zahav.

My father thought it was funny that I would carry a prayer book to Israel from San Francisco. He said in his usual joking manner, “All Israel needs is another prayer book.” I of course gave a serious rebuttal and packed it in my bag for Israel.

The woman sitting next to me during our meeting with President Peres wrote an article covering the meeting titled, Peres praises ‘opening’ for peace. She mentions in her article a question that David Feinman, who works with the The Jewish Federations of North America out of Washington D.C. asked on his impression of Obama. Peres described Obama as “an unbelievable success story compared to other presidents” and declared that he had no doubt that Obama’s commitment to Israel was “serious, honest and dependable.”

Peres is seen in the Presidential role as a wise sage by many in Israel. In my experience, Peres might be known for many things in the world but what stands out for me in regards to furthering my respect for him was learning from Captain Avner EvenZohar that in his role as Secretary of Defense he advocated for Gays and Lesbians to fully serve in the Israeli army. Additionally, Peres visited the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth building after the August 1, 2009 shooting that left two people dead and 15 people wounded. The day after the shooting Peres said, “The shocking murder in Tel Aviv last night is the kind of murder that an enlightened and cultured people cannot accept. Murder and hate are society’s toughest crimes. The entire country must unite in condemning this heinous act.” For these two acts of advocacy for the LGBT community as a leader I thanked him when I had my short conversation with him. We also spoke about the uniqueness of Siddur Sha’ar Zahav and he said it was very interesting and said he will enjoy looking through the pages.

One of the best parts of meeting President Peres was meeting his Secretary. Her name was Finkelstein and of course I called her cousin all morning. She was a joy and filled with great heart!

For more photos of the day in Jerusalem mixed in with lots of other photos of my trip in smugmug please click here. If you want to see my photos in my Picasa Google Photo Gallery instead please click here.

  1. You are amazing!

  2. Sandra Vinnik permalink

    Dear Lisa,

    You are a leader and you belong with this outstanding group of people. I am proud of Peres as a leader of his people and the state of Israel. I am also very
    proud of you and what you have accomplished.
    My love and best wishes-

    Sandy Vinnik

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience. Rita and Irwin Blitt

  4. Helen Goldman permalink

    Dear Lisa,
    I loved hearing about your visit wih Perez. Please add me to your mailing list. Your trip sounds wonderful. Israel will never be the same by the time you leave!

  5. Bonita permalink

    Dear pal – you are one of a kind… a true wonder in this world. Wander, wander as you do… and tell me of the Israel moon.

  6. Very very cool! You’re hanging out with some impressive folks!

  7. Jonathan S permalink


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