Ron Nachman’s heart

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 Nachman and Ariel Sharon 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Ron Nachman and Ariel Sharon 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
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 spirit.
RON’S HEART was broad enough to drive him to reach the unattainable.
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.
And it was strong enough for him to outmaneuver, outrun and outlive his greatest challengers.
But the test of a strong heart is not its breadth, but its depth.
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.
Ron 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 performance.
In hindsight Ron realized that if Ariel hadn’t been boycotted, he should have orchestrated the whole to-do himself.
All the media outlets showed up for the big performance. One got the exclusive scoop.
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 standing ovation.
When the program came to an end, Ron wept.
RON’S 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 medical condition.
Ron’s love was tangible, his tears abundant and his heart contagious.
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.
VISIT THE 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 personal mentor.