How Shimon Peres Shaped My View of Israel at Age 10

adina kay-gross

Like so many others in my Facebook feed, I had the opportunity to meet Shimon Peres, z”l, more than once. The first time though, was the most special. I was ten years old. It was October, 1987, just months before the first intifada. Vladimir Slepak had just been emigrated to Israel after years in Siberian exile. We were living in Jerusalem, and my parents pulled me out of school to attend a ceremony welcoming Vladimir and his wife Mariya to the country.

There were two kids in the auditorium that day–me and another little boy–who had worn refusenik awareness bracelets while we waited for Slepak’s release. Because this was Israel and things like this happen there, we were invited up to the podium to speak– me, with my broken Hebrew and elementary school awkwardness. But after I stuttered at the microphone, I was pulled over to the dais, sandwiched between the Slepaks and hugged intermittently by Mariya, Vladimir and Peres, all morning.

To say that morning was my political awakening would be hyperbole. Let’s just say my love and concern for the State of Israel was solidified that day, and while it’s gone through many, many phases and remains totally complicated, it’s still my truth today.

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Adina Kay-Gross

Adina Kay-Gross is one of Kveller’s contributing editors and the Editorial Director at The Covenant Foundation. Adina earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and has been published in a number of literary magazines as well as in Slate, Tablet, The Jewish Week and The Forward. She lives in the suburbs of New York with her husband Jonathan, her twin girls, and her dog, Pretzel.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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