How often do Shimon Peres’s ebullient assertions of youth receive objective validation? On Thursday, Israel’s 89-year-old president had a chance to hang out with the truly old, when he hosted a troupe of centenarians in Jerusalem.

“When you look at me, you probably see a kindergarten kid, while I look at you and see the people who have turned the State of Israel into a flourishing garden,” Peres said as he welcomed his guests. “Each and every one of you is 100 years old [or older], and all in all, we have gathered here some 10,000 years of Israeli history.”

Peres asked his guests to tell their offspring about their history and the history of Israel, which, he said, “began as a small land, with no water, oil, or gold; with swamps and a harsh climate. And suddenly, out of thin air, you built our state and our people.

“You are the entire story of the State of Israel,” he commended them.

Although his ancient visitors probably didn’t need the information, Peres revealed his secrets for longevity and a fulfilling life.

“Me, I’m not crazy about retirement, and I don’t go on vacations — it’s boring,” the president said. “Public service gives the greatest pleasure, and I’m sure that even people as old as you can still help and serve your country, to teach your children what you’ve accomplished and to make them understand that they, too, are capable.”

Peres’s oldest visitor — and Israel’s oldest citizen — 112-year-old Zechariah Barashi of Jerusalem, provided his own tips for a long life: “My priority is to be with my friends,” he said. “When it comes to health, people have to be careful not to eat forbidden foods. Overeating makes you sick.”