Peres’ children at shiva: ‘Our mourning belongs to all Israel’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The love and support from the citizens of Israel and the leaders of the world “envelops us and soothes our deep pain,” Shimon Peres’ children said at the beginning of the week-long shiva period.

Peres’ children, Tsvia Walden, Yoni and Chemi, are observing the mourning period publicly at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

“Since his death, we have been wrapped in mourning, and feel that it is not just ours, but belongs to all the people of Israel,” Chemi Peres said on Saturday night at the beginning of the shiva.

Hundreds of Israelis arrived on Saturday night to offer condolences to the Peres family.

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“Our father served the State of Israel all of his life, and now we truly feel it, as so many people want to come and express their grief and sorrow. We thank all of those who expressed their condolences, all of those who came to pay their respects at our father’s coffin at the central Knesset plaza, and all of those who came to his funeral service to lay him to rest. We were blessed to have a father who was a man of vision, a man of action, and a man of peace,” he said.

The children decided to receive visitors at the Peres Center, he said, because it is “a place that was his home, a home that was built here in Jaffa, in the heart of an Arab neighborhood, which has now come to symbolize shared-living. This unique building absorbs light during the day and shine light at night. All of his life, our father absorbed light while he was deepening Israel’s security and while he was building peace, and we hope that from this day forward, this building will continue to spread the light that he created.”

Photos of Peres from various stages of his life were hung at the center and guests circulated to look at them.