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Memorial to our old supporter and friend, Jesse Zel Lurie

Wednesday 21 June 2017

On Wednesday, June 21, the village gathered to remember old time friend and donor to the village Jesse Zel Lurie. Zel died April 10 at the age of 103. Over the 40 years that he knew the village, Zel was both a generous donor and actively involved in promoting the village through the American Friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam. His abiding interest was educational work, and the village’s bilingual primary school was the main recipient of his support. As a journalist, and an early Zionist who had lived in Israel during the state’s founding years, his interest in the village reflected his deep knowledge of the country, his concern over the direction in which the nation was developing, and the importance that he attributed to democratic values. He supported what he felt were moderate and reasonable positions on either side of the conflict and believed in the possibility of finding solutions that would serve the best interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. His continued support for educational work for peace, both in the village and outside of it were a reflection of his unshakable optimism, despite an ongoing journalistic scrutiny of everything that was happening on the ground.

His sources of information went far beyond what was presented in the mainstream media, and even at an advanced age, he surprised everyone with the up-to-date knowledge upon which he drew to write incisive articles and opinion pieces. In WAS-NS, not everyone agreed with all of his positions, but no one questioned his sincerity or loyalty to the causes that he supported.

Thus the meeting on June 21, brought together two families - his blood relations and his WAS-NS family who had known and worked with him for many years. We were deeply touched that his ashes were to be interred in the village, and his presence would continue to remain with us in so many ways. The ceremony started at the Primary School, where a new plaque was unveiled in his honor. The school’s surviving co-founder, Ety Edlund, as did later principal Anwar Dawood, other friends and family members. The ashes were placed between the Corner of Silence, the Rescuers Garden and the village cemetery, where Nava Sonnenschein, his daughter Susan and his grandchildren spoke.

Afterwards, in a hall of the Pluralistic Spiritual Center, we enjoyed a slideshow of photos put together in Zel’s honor and by a brief violin performance by a talented pupil at the School. Further words were spoken by Scott Brockman, executive director of the American Friends of NSWAS, and a couple of others. The evening concluded with a potluck Ramadan iftar meal in the courtyard of the Spiritual Center. Many village residents brought delicious traditional fare and some members of the Lurie family stayed for the meal.

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