Itongadol.- President Shimon Peres\’ 90th birthday celebrations kicked off Monday evening at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot with a speech by former US President Bill Clinton.
Clinton told those on hand that he always felt at home in Israel and called Peres one of the world\’s greatest visionaries, who always lives in the future rather than in the past.
Clinton, who spoke before Israeli ministers, Knesset members and other dignitaries, told the Academic Center\’s directors he would donate the money from the lecture to a scholarship fund for the institution\’s students.
Peres, who spoke before Clinton, said the words "Shalom Chaver (goodbye friend)," said by the former American president after the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, were still in the hearts of the Israeli people.
The Israeli president said Clinton was a combination of a brilliant mind and a compassionate heart.
Earlier Monday, a more intimate, emotional gathering was held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Singer-actress Barbra Streisand who is visiting Israel, met with Peres and with 21 terminally ill children aged 3-18, who came via Israel’s Make a Wish foundation.
For the children, who spend their days in a struggle to survive, meeting Streisand was one of their wishes and an escape from the realities of dealing with their illnesses. Streisand hugged the children and was visibly moved by their stories. One of the girls, Coral Veder, 16, a cancer patient, performed Streisand’s song, People.
The main birthday celebration is to be held Tuesday. Scheduled to participate in the birthday happening, in addition to the general Presidential Conference itself, are over 5,000 guests from 20 countries, including Streisand, Eyal Golan, Shlomo Artzi, four Nobel Prize winners, six presidents, and 20 Emmy, Grammy and Oscar winners. The events will be covered by 500 news/media outlet teams.