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