“You have done something exemplary,” President Shimon Peres told 13-year-old Noa Weinzweig of Herzliya as she sat opposite him in the reception hall at the president’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Tall, poised, polite and mature, Noa was engulfed in appreciation and admiration.

Of the 60 or so people in the room, 50 were Holocaust survivors who belong to Netanya’s Amha Club, which provides help to survivors, and were the beneficiaries of Noa’s caring heart.

In her family of five siblings, it’s customary to give away one’s bar or bat mitzva money – and that’s exactly what she did.

When she celebrated her bat mitzva, Noa, who is the middle child, decided to forgo the excitement of unwrapping gifts and asked everyone to give a donation. She ended up with NIS 50,000.

Her mother, Nirit Gilboa, who was born on Kibbutz Kfar Menahem near Kiryat Malachi, gave her a list of worthy causes from which to choose. But the truth was that Noa, a student at the American School in Even Yehuda, had already made up her mind that she wanted to do something for Holocaust survivors. As a little girl in Canada, she had learned something of the Holocaust, had read as much as she could and asked her older relatives to tell her more.

“They’ve been through a lot,” she told Peres. “I thought they deserve to be happy and peaceful and to have a good life.”

NIS 50,000 doesn’t go very far in providing a good life, but it can provide a good time – and that’s exactly what happened.

Noa’s grandmother Rikki Gilboa, who was born on Kibbutz Deganya Alef, belongs to the Herzliya Women’s Circle that adopted Amha in Netanya. So when Noa, with three generations of kibbutz values of shared burdens in her genes, decided that she wanted to help Holocaust survivors, finding them was no problem. She decided to finance a threeday vacation for them in Jerusalem. They stayed in the Kibbutz Ramat Rachel hotel and went touring each day.

When Peres asked them to describe their experiences, they said that they didn’t have the words with which to express their appreciation.

“I was under the impression that people think about us only on Holocaust Remembrance Day and forget about us the rest of the year,” said one woman.

“But this young lady has given us such a heart-warming experience, simply because she cares.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by other participants who said that they enjoy going to Amha for lectures and other activities, but that coming to Jerusalem and meeting the president was truly special.

One woman needed to get something off her chest and said to Peres: “I know that the government has money. Why can’t they make retirement homes for senior citizens more affordable so that we can live out the twilight of our lives in dignity?” Peres promised to convey the message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Unable to contain his admiration for Noa, Peres said: “Sometimes a nation needs to learn from its children. You have taught us an exceptional lesson.”

Addressing the guests, Peres said that “nothing is more precious to us than Holocaust survivors.” The president said that it had been a privilege to receive them.

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