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      JFNA: Sharon Leader of 'Entire Jewish World'

      Jewish Federations of North America eulogizes Sharon, praising his 'bold steps in the hopes of achieving peace.'
      By Ari Yashar
      First Publish: 1/12/2014, 8:46 AM

      Ariel Sharon with Mark Wilf of Jewish Federations of North America weeks before the stroke
      Ariel Sharon with Mark Wilf of Jewish Federations of North America weeks before the stroke
      Robert A. Cumins
      The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) added their voices to the outpouring of those mourning the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away Saturday at the age of 85. Sharon had been in a coma since 2006.

      In a joint statement by JFNA Board of Trustees Chair Michael Siegal and JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman, the two called Sharon "a great Israeli leader."

      "Ariel Sharon was a highly regarded military leader, but he was also a peacemaker," read the statement. "One of the country’s most daring and celebrated generals, he was also a man who was able to take bold steps in the hopes of achieving peace. "

      In 2005 Sharon broke away from the Likud and founded Kadima to force through his "Disengagement" plan, whereby all Jewish residents of Gaza and northern Samaria (Shomron) were expelled. The move, which allowed Hamas to take control of Gaza and turn it into a constant terror launching pad against Israel, has led to criticism of Sharon's legacy.

      "Sharon worked his entire life for the unity of the Jewish People," said the JFNA. "He was closely connected with Jewish communities around the world, and acutely aware of their needs and aspirations. ...He was a regular speaker at Jewish Federation events and is warmly remembered for welcoming countless Federation groups to his private home in the Negev."

      “Today it is not only the State of Israel that has lost one of its most celebrated figures, but the Jewish people as a whole," claimed the statement. "Sharon was not just the prime minister of the Jewish state, but a determined and inspirational leader of the entire Jewish world."

      The JFNA announced it would send a delegation to Sharon's funeral. His coffin is set for display at the Knesset on Sunday, for memorial services that an American delegation led by US Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend.

      Ariel Sharon with Mark Wilf of Jewish Federations of North America weeks before the stroke Robert A. Cumins