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Rochester Jewish Leader Remembers Shimon Peres

Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester CEO Meredith Dragon

As dignitaries from around the world express their sadness over the death of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a leader of the Rochester Jewish community is remembering her past encounters with the late leader.

"He represented an era that I'm not sure exists anymore," said Meredith Dragon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester.

Dragon first met Peres in the late 1990s when she was working at the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, Florida. She helped organize Peres' visit to Jacksonville.

"He was just such a gentleman and a kind soul, and cared so much about saying and doing the right thing,” she said. “He was humble, and easy to be around, and funny. He was really a statesman."

Peres shared the 1994 Nobel Peace prize with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for reaching the Oslo interim peace accord. 

Dragon’s most recent encounter with Peres came several years ago with she traveled to Israel with other Jewish Federation professionals.

"And even in his late 80s, he was dignified, and sharp, smart, and intuitive. He really kept up with the times and kept himself and his ideas relevant and thoughtful,” she said. "I guess what's been on my mind since he passed away is that, in our funny  climate of elections right now, Shimon Peres represented a certain political view, but he was respected by everybody. He had that air of statesmanship that caused people, even if they didn't agree with him, to respect him."

A funeral will be held Friday for Peres, who died today at the age of 93.  He suffered a debilitating stroke on September 13 and remained hospitalized since then. 

Dignitaries from around the world are expected to attend the funeral, including President Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton.