(Commnicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, today (Sunday, 22 December 2013), visited the Franciscan Catholic Church
in Ramla in honor of Christmas. He was welcomed by children in Santa hats singing Christmas songs in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
President Peres, accompanied by Ramla Mayor Yoel Lavi and the head of the church, entered the main hall which was decorated festively for the holidays. The event was attended by the leaders of a number of Christian denominations, each of whom delivered a holiday greeting. President Peres joined the choir of a local school as they sang classic Christmas songs and, along with the gathered guests, was given traditional chocolates.
President Peres thanked the community for the warm welcome and said, "It is a special occasion for us to be able to celebrate Christmas all together – we all pray to the same Lord and we all pray for the same thing – that the Lord may grant peace to us and our children, free from hatred and animosity.
I came to offer my greetings on behalf of the State of Israel where Jews, Christians and Muslims live together. It is my pleasure to bring you the greetings of the whole people of Israel; a holiday for one religion is a holiday for the whole country. As a state we are responsible for your safety, freedom and holy sites and for your feeling as free and equal citizens that carry with them the hope that unites us for peace and a better world. The Lord is doing what he can but we must do what we need to do, to follow His wish and our destiny, to live in peace."
Mayor Lavi added his greetings and said, "Ramla brings together all faiths, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and from this place we call for people to come together, and for solidarity between all faiths."
At the end of the event President Peres and the leaders of the Christian denominations in Israel
raised a glass to a year of peace. The President wished them a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."