Apart from the leaders, ministers and other dignitaries and uniformed officials, 30 children took part in the presidential welcoming ceremony
that took place Wednesday at the President's Residence.
They waved flags, sung, danced and some even shook the president's hand and exchanged words with Barack Obama.
"He told me 'thank you beautiful girl'", Neta Kedmi recalled. "He was really sweet. Peres
"Obama asked me how we were feeling and said we are incredibly cute," Rotem Naimi bashfully admited.
Another vocalist in the choir, Ya'ara Maliach, who shook the president's hand, added "it was really exciting, he smiled at me." In regards to the handshake itself, Ya'ara said: "One handshake was worth all the effort we made. He is a great man, and now I know he is also really sweet."
'He is a great man' (Photo: Amit Shavi)
Romi Abiram, who sang the show-tune classic Tomorrow in both English and Hebrew together with two other children admitted "the moment I heard the opening notes I got really excited. I was half prepared, but it turned out beautiful."
"I really admire him. I think he is really special, and a very good leader," she concluded.
In regards to Obama's reaction, Romi said: "He thanked us, and then said some other things that I didn't really understand, so later I asked the other girls what he said, and they told me he said 'Well done' and other complements."
Romi said that she would also like to say goodbye to the president before his return to the US, but admitted that "I doubt they will let me."
The ceremony was preceded by hours of preparations and rehearsals, including a full dress-rehearsal at the President's Residence Tuesday.
"There were those who complained that it is too much," Gili Rottenberg, one of the singers, said, "but we had a really fun time, it was worth it! I really hope we could do it a few more times.
"He asked me my name and said I was very pretty."
Emotions were also running high for the grownups taking part in the ceremony.
Sigining in (Photo: AFP)
"The visit was characterized by warmth, and it was very moving," Efrat Duvdevani,
the director general of the President's Residence, admitted.
"We know from his speech, as well as through his conversation with Peres, that Obama was deeply moved by the children on stage. Nadav Toledano spoke of the Iron Dome
as giving him and his family greater security, and that is really what we are trying to convey."
Obama and Peres strode down the red carpet leading to the President's Residence in Jerusalem, and were welcomed with the sounds of the children's choir's rendition of Shalom Aleichem; the children all waved Israeli and American flags.
Afterwards, the important guest signed the President's Residence's guestbook and planted a seedling in the presidential garden.
In his speech, Obama spoke of Israel's children wanting to live free from terror, and told his host that it is an honor to be hosted by such a champion, referring to Peres as a champion of Israel
and a champion of peace."
Summarizing the day, Duvdevani said "there were gestures that haven't been seen in the past. These express a deep friendship and respect between the two leaders. Peres is very happy and is still excited every time he meets Obama."
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