There will be countless tributes to Shimon Peres over the coming days, but I fear that few, if any, will adequately capture the palpable sense of collective grief felt across the world, nor do justice to the memory of a true giant amongst men.
It is true that Shimon Peres was a great statesman. He was the noblest of soldiers, a born leader, a uniquely talented diplomat, an inspiring speaker and a relentless campaigner.
But, more significantly than any of those things, Shimon Peres was the greatest living example of an unshakable belief in the pursuit of peace against all odds.
However dark the day and however distant the dawn seemed, his unflinching optimism gave hope to millions of people, not just in Israel but across the world, that if we could just cling onto that dream of peace for a little while longer, we would eventually celebrate its realisation.
Tragically, thus far, we have not succeeded. But from Shimon Peres we learned that we must never let go of that audacious commitment to peace, even when all around us are ready to do so.
When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 he said: “…while one is obliged to plan with care the stages of one’s journey, one is entitled to dream, and keep dreaming, of its destination.”
Today, Shimon Peres’s journey through this world has finally come to its end and he has arrived at his destination. As for those of us whom he inspired during his remarkable lifetime, we say:
No matter what the future holds, your legacy lives on in the Jewish people who will never rest until we achieve our eternal dream of peace among the peoples of the world.
~ Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis