The unwavering, hardnosed, I-want-that-in-my-city Zionistic entrepreneur, cast in
bulldozer steel and galvanized with the charisma of a starry-eyed optimist, ran
on an emotional internal combustion engine all his own. Ron Nachman’s heart was
open for all too see, though known by all too few.
Irrespective of the
terminology, whether you’ve heard of the “City of Ariel,” the “Capital of
Samaria” or the infamous “large settlement in the West Bank,” you’ve heard Ron
Nachman’s heartbeat. If you ever visited Ariel, you’ve felt his pulse.
Thirtyfive of his 70 years were spent on this mountain. He turned it from empty
rocks to a vibrant reality which continues, after his passing, to celebrate his
RON’S HEART was broad enough to drive him to reach the
It was wide enough to draw attention from successive
Israeli governments and regular United Nations statements. His heart was
boisterous enough to entertain even the most hostile journalist.
was strong enough for him to outmaneuver, outrun and outlive his greatest
But the test of a strong heart is not its breadth, but its
Ron’s heart had a way of growing stronger as time progressed. The
more he revealed his personal emotions, the more capable, bold and successful
the man behind the machine became.
Ron dreamed that Ariel’s residents
could be both safe and sound. The second intifada was the impetus, the Jewish
Community Centers of the United States the inspiration, and the Lowell Milken
Family Sports and Recreation Complex was the answer.
At the dedication
ceremony, Ron took friends, colleagues and donors by surprise. He went from
exuberant joy to thoughtfulness when he quoted the classic Israeli song “This
tune cannot be stopped.” Ron Nachman had reached another milestone. As was
always the case, he gave the project everything he had, and surpassed everyone’s
expectations. His eyes welled up with tears, and the man of steel allowed
himself to cry.
BUT THOSE tears were only the beginning. Ron’s illness
truly made his heart grow. The pain was a nuisance, but was never the issue. It
was about getting back to the office, and keeping his city on course.
couldn’t have dreamed for better PR: The 2010 “artists’ boycott” of the Ariel
Regional Center for the Performing Arts began two months before the opening
In hindsight Ron realized that if Ariel hadn’t been
boycotted, he should have orchestrated the whole to-do himself.
media outlets showed up for the big performance. One got the exclusive
The cameras followed Ron from morning to night. They started
filming at the hospital bed where he received his chemotherapy, and continued
until the evening’s performance, where he donned his best suit and blew kisses
to avoid an attack on his weakened immune system. Ron rose to the podium, gazed
across the full house, and received the thoroughly anticipated and well deserved
When the program came to an end, Ron wept.
HEART was a heart of many loves. Ron loved his city.
He loved his people.
And he loved his family.
At the close of his seventieth birthday
celebration it was, yet again, Ron’s turn to take the mic.
The crowd fell
silent. Members of Knesset, government ministers, countless friends from far and
near – everyone faded into the backdrop.
Ron spoke to one person and one
person only: his wife, Dorit.
He couldn’t control himself. For the first
time, it was hard to hear what Ron Nachman was actually saying. And for the
first time, it didn’t really matter. He was thanking Dorit for standing with him
for so many years, and for supporting him through the travails of a serious
Ron’s love was tangible, his tears abundant and his
We all cried with Ron. He was speaking to Dorit, while
touching everyone in the room.
He who has not cried with Ron Nachman has
never cried the tears of the joy of Zionism in his days. But, for those with
clear eyes, sensitive ears and a pure heart, it’s not too late.
City of Ariel, and you will see Ron Nachman. Study at Ariel University and you
will learn from his ways. Invest in Ariel’s industrial parks, and you will
partner with his ingenuity. Attend a concert at the Center for the Performing
Arts, and you will hear his soul. Stand atop the mountain of Ariel and you will
feel his heartbeat with every gust of wind. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: If
you know how to sense greatness, you’re going to shed a tear.The author
is the executive director of the Ariel Development Fund. Ron Nachman was his
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