When the Shibolim preschool in the Eshkol region near the Gaza border was hit by a mortar toward the end of May and severely damaged, President Reuven Rivlin was quick to react, by calling and speaking to the tiny tots in reassuring tones.
On Tuesday, he met them in person, and temporarily turned the President’s Residence into a kindergarten, where he seemed to have even more fun than the wide-eyed little ones who, accompanied by their teacher Tovah Ludmar Gigi and their parents, had come from the south to Jerusalem.
The president spoke to them in the main reception hall as well as in his study, where they poked around with the natural curiosity of youngsters who have not yet been taught what it means to be politely discreet. Some of them, not content with selfies with the president, also wanted his autograph, and of course he readily obliged.
Rivlin told them that they should be strong and fearless, and promised them that the day would not be long in coming when they would see regular kites that had not been loaded with explosives.
He reassured them of a brighter tomorrow, and also told them that when he was their age, Jerusalem had been under siege, and a war was on. It was not easy, he said, but everyone knew the importance of being strong.
One of the things he and other children loved to do was to fly kites. He was confident that the children of Shibolim would also be able to fly kites in the near future.
He told them that the soldiers guarding them would make sure that nothing would happen to them, and that soon the only kites they would see would be the kind to bring them joy.
Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, are exceptionally fond of children and can often be seen with one or two of their grandchildren in tow.
They also invite children to the residence to plant shrubs in the garden, bring their pets, play soccer or listen to stories.