White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel arrived at the Presidential Residence Thursday along with his family for a special meeting with President Shimon Peres.
After a walk in the presidential garden, Peres and Emanuel spoke privately for about 90 minutes.
During the meeting, the president gave Emanuel's son, Zach, two gifts on the occasion of his bar mitzvah – a Kiddush wineglass and a Book of Psalms with a personal dedication. Emanuel's daughters Ilana and Leah were not left out, getting Presidential Residence pins as well as their own Book of Psalms.
The family was excited to meet the president and asked to be photographed with him. The top White House official told Peres that the family enjoyed a wonderful experience in Israel.
"We felt like part of the family," he said, adding that the Emanuels were received warmly wherever they went and that there are many wonderful people in Israel.
The children told the president they were especially excited after flying in a military helicopter, using a simulator in the Hatzerim Air Force base, and touring Caesarea and the Hatsbani River. They spoke to Peres in Hebrew and told him about their language studies and their warm ties to Israel.
At one point, the president gave Zach Emmanuel a "private lesson" about his bar mitzvah Torah portion and its meaning for the Jewish people.