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Temple Israel presented Valdosta Mayor John Fretti, center, with the congregation's first Shalom-Peace Award. Fretti is pictured with Rabbi Moshe Elbaz, Lt. Col. Ronnie Porat, Louis Schmier and Lauren Mescon.

Temple Israel presented Valdosta Mayor John Fretti with the Shalom-Peace Award on Sunday.

He is the first recipient of this honor in Valdosta.

The special event began with the singing of the national anthems of the U.S. and Israel, led by Dr. Julie Schindler.

Rabbi Moshe Elbaz gave the invocation, praying “... Grant us the wisdom, understanding and strength to fulfill our purpose in life, namely to help one another, to make our communities a better place for future generations, to preserve our land, and to insure peace and reconciliation among people and nations ...”

The crowd was greeted by Judge H. Arthur McLane, who served as co-chair for the event, and by Eric Schindler, vice president of Temple Israel, who said that the first Shalom-Peace Award was being given to Mayor Fretti “for his unselfish betterment of our community and interfaith relations as well as his support of the Land of Israel.”

He added that Fretti is also to be honored with the planting of a garden of trees in Israel, stating “it is our hope that the growth of these trees reflects the growth of peace in our world.”

Rabbi Moshe Elbaz introduced Israel special emissary Lt. Col. Ronnie Porat and Co-President of the Southeastern Region of the Jewish National Fund Lauren Mescon, who had just returned from a week’s mission in Israel.

After addressing the group, Mescon presented Fretti with a plaque from the JNF. Dr. Louis Schmier, Temple Israel immediate past president, presented the Shalom-Peace Award to Mayor Fretti.

After a closing prayer by the Rev. George Bennett, president of the Valdosta Ministerial Association, a reception to honor the mayor was held in the Temple Israel social hall.

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