I feel a bit guilty. Yesterday the Knesset was open for the public to pay their respects to Shimon Peres. I wanted to go. But I didn't.
Yes I have excuses. I was working all day and didn't get home until past 9pm. (I now know they extended the hours until 11pm, a fact I discovered much too late.)
But is this enough? Here is this great man, a man I'd say was ahead of his time or at least many in his generation, who dedicated his life to the great venture of Israel. And here is me "too busy" to make it to the Knesset, which sits in Jerusalem, to pay my respects. Thousands of Israelis traveled from all over the country to come. I sat in an office half an hour away the whole time.
I guess I feel guilt because I actually feel sadness about president Peres' passing. I remember during my first trip to Israel I went to the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah (the Jewish Olympics) and got so excited that Shimon Peres was there. (See the photo.) I got to hear him speak and it was my first time to the country! I was enchanted. This man helped build this place. He also was an integral piece of several important political events in Israel. (Here is a really short, informative video on the life of Shimon Peres.)
Part of the sadness I feel is the fact that Peres was the last of the original founding figures of this country. I feel like, although his tenure as prime minister and president were finished, something about him being alive held us all accountable to the foundational spirit of Israel. Now that they are all gone, what is stopping us from losing sight of their vision? My generation makes me nervous. So many things that should be important don't seem to matter, and on the opposite side we seem to be concerned with things we need to learn to let go.
Mr. Peres, you'll be missed and thought of often and fondly. You were certainly a visionary and inspirational figure in Israel, and even to many around the world. May we continue your legacy of innovation and continue to seek peace and growth. May your memory be a blessing.