More than 6,000 people streamed to the First Station in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening to join some 800 hundred youth from Tekoa, who marched from Ein Yahel to commemorate Ori Ansbacher, the young woman who was savagely murdered 13 days before by a Palestinian terrorist.
The organizers of the march called the event “A City Wrapped in Light,” in reference to Ansbacher’s first name, which means light.
The event was organized by a small group of pro-Israel activists, including Elyasaf Peretz, the son of Israel Prize awardee Miriam Peretz, and Yossi Furman, son of the late rabbi of Tekoa, Menachem Furman.
Ansbacher, a resident of Tekoa, a village located in the south of Jerusalem, was raped and murdered by a Palestinian man as she was enjoying some quiet time in the woods outside of Ein Yahel, a nature museum where she volunteered with children.
Members of youth movements and some of Ansbacher’s friends marched in her memory from the spot where she was brutally murdered in the woods all the way to the First Station in the city – a place where Jerusalemites of all denominations and sectors – mingle and meet.
Since the event was planned and launched within a short time, it is unclear whether the organizers reached out to all the youth movements in the city other than the religious ones that Ansbacher was involved in. There were no official signs of participation from secular youth groups.
On the way to the First Station, a few young women told The Jerusalem Post that they decided to join not only because the event encouraged young people to join, but as female, religious National Service volunteers they felt that it was their calling.
“She was doing only good,” explained Hodaya, a 19-year-old young woman from Gush Etzion. Hodaya, who is also a National Service volunteer, added, “I could have been in her place, I could have been there in the woods of Ein Yahel. I also love nature and spending my free time surrounded by trees and plants.”
“This evil has touched us in a different way that I can’t even explain, but I felt that I had to be here this evening and march from the place where her life ended,” she said.
The evening was particularly moving, and featured speeches by many of Ansbacher’s friends. It also included performances by Israeli artists, such as Ehud Banai, the Shalva Band, Yuval Dayan, Micha Shitrit, Amir Benayoun and Shlomi Shabat. The latter performed for the first time one of Ori’s poems, “A World of Peace,” which he said that he composed specially for the occasion.
Peretz said that neither he, nor many who attended the event, knew Ansbacher personally, but were inspired by the story of her short but meaningful life.
“In one moment all the dreams fell apart with all the words that you had inside your heart Ori,” Peretz said in a heartfelt speech. He added that it is a testament to her life that in the aftermath of the tragedy, many chose to march in her honor. He called on the attendees to live fully and celebrate life.
“Our own pain, of those who knew her and those, like me, who didn’t, is just an echo of the deep pain of her family, but this is a moment when cynicism and division fall down, and we can unite around the light of Ori’s personality,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.