The first official celebration of President Shimon Peres’ 90 birthday took place at his modest childhood home in Vishnyeva, on May 29, just outside of Minsk, in a ceremony organized by Limmud FSU.
The plaque placed by the home’s front door read: “In this place, Shimon Peres, son of Yitzhak and Sarah Perski, the Nobel Laureate and 9th President of the State of Israel, was born on August 2, 1923.”
“Everybody knew he was born here but no one before Limmud FSU came up with the idea to honor his home,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, who also arranged a Holocaust memorial to honor the 2,000 Jews slaughtered by Nazis – including Peres’ grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Meltzer – a few kilometers away.
Limmud FSU initiated the event, as well as a pictorial exhibition of Peres in Minsk’s Culture House, entitled “Heading from Vilna St. in Vieshnyeva to Presidents St. in Jerusalem,” and a 100th birthday celebration for prime minister Menachem Begin, in his hometown of Brest.
“We needed great assistance and couldn’t have done it without the Governor of Minsk, Boris Batura, government of Minsk Province, Israel Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Chagall, the Israel Culture Center and Jewish Community of Belarus,” said Limmud FSU COO Roman Kogan.
“Five months after meeting with them, we were honored to hold both events in the presence of the president’s daughter, Prof. Tzvia Walden, her husband Prof. Raphael Walden, Chairman of Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Mathew Bronfman, Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel, and all the distinguished guests of Limmud FSU,” added Chesler.
Peres’s long-time adviser Yoram Dori, who also organized the events, selected all the photos and wrote the captions for the exhibition at the Culture House, with help from his daugther-in-law, graphic designer, Dania. He said he was humbled by the president’s life and accomplishments.
“In order to show all the achievement of Shimon Peres I need a hall from Vieshnyeva to Minsk,” said Dori. “It was not easy for me and Dania to choose the right wording and the right photos so that every visitor will learn about the achievements of Shimon Peres and the State of Israel.”