It wasn't the first time a new ambassador presenting his credentials addressed the president in Hebrew, but Wednesday was definitely a first, as each of the five new ambassadors to present their credentials to Shimon Peres at Beit Hanassi did so.
It started with Lithuanian Ambassador Darius Degutis, who made his presentation in Hebrew, then switched to English.
Then came Macedonian Ambassador Pajo Avirovik, his country's first resident envoy to Israel, who not only spoke Hebrew throughout the entire meeting, but also signed the guest book in Hebrew and told Peres he had been charged by his own president, Gjorge Ivanov, to do everything in his power to bring Peres to Macedonia.
Next was Bernardo Greiver, ambassador of Uruguay, who is Jewish, attended a Hebrew day school in Montevideo and has close family in Israel.
Greiver, after going through the formalities in English, switched to Hebrew in a sudden burst of emotion.
"All my life I said, 'Next year in Jerusalem' - and this year we were in Jerusalem for Rosh Hashana," he said, referring also to his Hebrew-speaking wife Karen and sons Daniel and Alejandro.
Greiver's half-brother, Irim Greiver, who lives in Tel Aviv and was a long-time employee of the Defense Ministry, was in attendance with his young daughter, Shahar.
Peres did a double-take upon seeing the younger Greiver, as he had once been Peres's bodyguard.
"Bernardo is a warm Jew," Irim Greiver told reporters. "When he joined the diplomatic corps more than 20 years ago, we knew that one day he would be ambassador to Israel - and here we are, that day has come."
Aware that Peres is to visit Argentina and Brazil in November, Ambassador Greiver told him that the doors of Uruguay were always open to him. Greiver also signed the guest book in Hebrew.
Irish Ambassador Breifne O'Reilly and Peres both enthused over US special envoy George Mitchell's abilities as a mediator- Mitchell is considered something of a hero in Ireland for his involvement in the successful Northern Ireland peace negotiations.
O'Reilly expressed his hope Mitchell would be as successful in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he had been in Ireland. As he took his leave of Peres, O'Reilly thanked him in Hebrew.
French Ambassador Christophe Bigot had previously served in Israel, as deputy head of mission from 2004-2007. Knowing that Peres speaks French, he took the lead and conducted the conversation in his native tongue. But before saying goodbye, he wished him G'mar Hatima Tova (the traditional pre-Yom Kippur salutation, albeit a few days late).
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