Shalom Life | August 03, 2015

Israeli President Shimon Peres Entertains Crowd in Toronto

UJA Federation event ushers in Jewish heritage month in style

By: Daniel Horowitz

Published: May 10th, 2012 in Culture » Society » Events

Israeli President Shimon Peres Entertains Crowd in Toronto

It would be hard to imagine a more fitting way to usher in the inaugural Jewish Heritage Month in Ontario than by welcoming the President of Israel to town, and that’s precisely what happened on Wednesday, May 9th.

Billed as “A Special Evening with President Peres,” the event, organized by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, saw a capacity crowd of over 3,000 enthusiastic Peres supporters fill Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts for what was just that, a special evening. After an emotional and compelling address by Master of Ceremonies Robert Lantos, the celebrated Canadian Producer behind such blockbusters as Barney’s Version and Eastern Promises, Toronto’s own David Frum, a CNN contributor, journalist, author, and political advisor joined President Peres onstage for what could best be described as a “fireside chat” - sans the fire.

Despite nearing his 90th year, President Peres charmed the audience with his intellect and his wit. While discussing the current situation in the Middle East with regards to the Arab Spring, President Peres told Frum about a conversation he has had with his American President Barack Obama. He asked me 'who is against democracy in the Middle East?'" said Peres. “I told him ‘the husbands.” The laughter the president received would have made Jerry Seinfeld, who performed at the Sony Centre just days earlier, envious.

On more serious matters, when the subject of Iran came up, the Israeli President expressed optimism in international sanctions. "The fact that Iran is ready to enter negotiations shows that sanctions are having an impact," he said, expressing his preference for diplomatic methods over military action.

On the topic of Syria, President Peres made it clear that he believes President Bashar Assad has simply done too much damage. "He's killed his own children ... he won't be forgiven."

Speaking about Israel, which just celebrated its 64th anniversary, President Peres, mentioned his country’s geographical limitations, and its lack of rain, and the fact that Israel “has only one lake, and two rivers. One is dead, and the other is dying,” he told the audience which erupted in laughter. Then, outstretching his hands to the heavens, the president added: “When I see how much water you have here in Toronto, and in Canada, I am envious. In Israel, our man enriched the land, the land didn't enrich us.”

On the topic of the Jewish people’s overall contributions to the world at large – and that while Jews are approximately 0.25% of the world's population yet account for approximately 22% of all Nobel Prize laureates worldwide, President Peres had a simple explanation. “ We are too small to be average. If we don't have quantity we need to have quality,” he said.

President Peres then went on to thank Toronto’s Jewish community who, he said, “has been there from the start, and is really a great friend of Israel’s.”

Elizabeth Wolfe, Board Chair, UJA Federation, thanked President Peres for taking time out of his busy schedule to make the trip to Toronto.

“Whenever Israel has been faced with challenges, Toronto’s Jewish community has not only risen to meet those challenges, but has soared above and beyond the call of duty,” she said. Our Jewish community in Toronto, one of the few with a growing Jewish population, shares a collective love for Israel and her people. President Peres, i thank you for taking time to visit your friends – and yes, your family - here in Jewish Toronto. Your presence underscores the importance of the work we do on behalf of Israel and Jews everywhere.”

Below are some highlights from Pere's discussion:

Reports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel Reports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel TrendingJason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian) Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian) TrendingFilm to be Made about Jonathan Pollard Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard Trending
 

Israel Wins 61 Medals in Special Olympics

August 03, 2015 | By Avraham Teshuva, Lea Schneider
Israel Wins 61 Medals in Special Olympics

Of the medals won in Los Angeles, 25 are gold, 18 silver and 18 bronze

Read More

Reports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel

August 03, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Reports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel

Yeezus is in talks with Israeli producers to perform in Tel Aviv this fall

Read More

Ohio University Wipes Out Holocaust Song from Playbook

August 03, 2015 | By Maria Cruz
Ohio University Wipes Out Holocaust Song from Playbook

Ohio State University takes inappropriate song out of marching band songbook

Read More

Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian)

August 03, 2015 | By Maria Cruz
Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian)

The comedian sits down with Marc Maron to discuss his childhood

Read More

New Documentary Claims the Nazis Built Flying Saucers and the Atomic Bomb

August 03, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
New Documentary Claims the Nazis Built Flying Saucers and the Atomic Bomb

Doc cites Nazi and Russian reports that they believe proves the existence of Nazi-made flying saucers and atom bombs

Read More

Anti-Violence Rallies Taking Place Across Israel Today

August 01, 2015 | By Noam 'Dabul' Dvir, Roi Yanovsky, Ahiya Raved, and Gilad Morag
Anti-Violence Rallies Taking Place Across Israel Today

Following two blood-soaked days, in which a Palestinian infant was killed and his parents and sibling were critically wounded in a fire and six people were hurt in a stabbing at Jerusalem's gay pride parade, thousands are expected to protest in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa

Read More

Report: 53% Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents in the UK

August 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Report: 53% Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents in the UK

Government officials are speaking out against anti-Semitism after new report finds rapid increase in anti-Semitic incidents

Read More

Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard

August 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard

The American jailed for passing sensitive information to Israel will have his story adapted for the big screen

Read More

More Headlines