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(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli [file])
President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday night: "It is our obligation to do everything we can to resettle the evacuees of Gush Katif, to rehabilitate them, to guarantee them an income and to preserve their dignity."
He spoke at a Torah dedication ceremony at Beit Hanassi.
It is incumbent on everyone, he continued, to lend the evacuees a willing ear and to do everything to ensure their quality of life.
Noting that evacuees were demonstrating in Sderot to mark the second anniversary of disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Peres also stressed the importance of assisting the residents of Sderot in their daily struggle against Kassam rockets.
Peres hosted a ceremony marking the completion of a Torah scroll donated to Western Wall worshipers by Jerome and Debbie Falic of Miami in honor of the bat mitzva of their daughter Rachel.
The Torah scroll is to be used by IDF soldiers, some 50,000 of whom are brought to the Western Wall each year. For some it is not only their first experience at Israel's holiest site, but also their first visit to the capital.
Nily Falic, the sabra matriarch of the family, heads the National Board of the American Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Her husband, Fima, fought in the IDF before the family moved to America in 1959.
Jerome Falic and 10 of his friends came to Israel last year to attend an IDF basic training course.
One of his brothers previously dedicated a Torah scroll for his son's bar Mitzva, and another brother will also dedicate a scroll in the near future when his son is called to the Torah.
"It's more important than giving to an organization," Falic told The Jerusalem Post, although his family donates to many organizations. "We know it's going to be read so many times by so many people."
"We have to show the world that Jewish people outside of Israel care," added his eldest daughter, Jennie.
Falic also mentioned the Gaza evacuees in his address to
the gathering that included present and former chief rabbis, cabinet ministers and MKs, members of the Rabbinical Council and religious leaders from across the country. "The plight of those pioneers who sacrificed so much for the State of Israel must be recognized," he said.
He also spoke about the IDF.
"Without the IDF, statehood would be impossible," he said. "There is no more unifying force in Israel than the IDF."
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said the fate of the former Gaza residents pained everyone.
He proposed that the anniversary of disengagement be designated as the Day of Re-Engagement, in which Jews everywhere would unite in brotherhood.
Peres noted the symbolism in dedicating a Torah on the day after Tisha Be'Av, which commemorated the destruction of the First and Second Temples. It was like once again being at Mount Sinai when the Torah was handed down to the Children of Israel, he said. The preservation of Jewish heritage and the need to withstand the dangers threatening the existence of the Jewish people "demand that we simultaneously maintain our traditional and national unity, even when there are differences of opinion," he said.
He also found it extremely meaningful that this particular Torah scroll would be put to use at the only remnant of the Temple and that it had been given to the IDF, which defends the Jewish people who returned to its home after 2,000 years in exile.