Like many other residents of Jerusalem, President Shimon Peres spent several days in front of his television set or listening to his radio.
And like many other residents, he also suffered a power outage for several hours, and watched in sadness as trees in the presidential garden were felled by the snow and wind.
Under those circumstances, Israel’s No. 1 citizen could easily identify with the conditions to which so many people throughout the country had been subjected.
But unlike other citizens, the president can telephone just about anyone he wants to speak to in Israel and abroad.
On Saturday night he phoned Yiftah Ron Tal, Israel Electric Corporation chairman, Yohanan Danino, Israel Police inspector-general, and Nir Barkat, Jerusalem mayor, to receive updates from them and to commend them for the way in which they were handling the situation.
He was particularly keen to learn more about what security forces were doing to gain access to people in dire need whose homes were difficult to reach due to the terrain, fallen trees and the volume of snow and ice in the immediate vicinity.
On Sunday, Peres braved the cold to visit the Jerusalem Emergency Center in order to thank the many volunteers who were answering calls from all over the city, distributing hot food, blankets, heaters and medical services to the capital’s senior citizens, especially those who live alone and have nowhere else to turn to for help.
Peres was welcomed by Barkat who briefed him on all that was being done at the Emergency Center, after which Peres chatted with several of the volunteers, who told him about the problems they encountered in delivering the services provided by the Emergency Center, and how pleased they were to be able to make life easier for the elderly and for families with very young children by supplying them with basic provisions.
“You are the warm pride of Jerusalem,” Peres told the volunteers. “I’m proud of you and of the people who opened their homes and their hearts to take in strangers, and especially of those who left warm homes to come and help out in the center. I came to thank you as a citizen and a resident of Jerusalem.”
Before leaving Peres made a point of speaking to some of the children who have found shelter in the Center who told him what was like to spend long days without electricity – some had passed the time by torchlight.
They were happy to inform him that electricity had been restored in their homes, and that it hadn’t been all that bad because they had managed to have a lot of fun in the snow with relatives and friends.
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