It has been over a year since the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, which took place during Shabbat morning services on Passover. Today, Chabad of Poway synagogue members may find some solace in knowing that a ceremony has taken place in Southern Israel in memory of one of the victims of the attack in order to perpetuate her memory.
On Monday, 25 olive trees were planted at a ceremony in southern Israel in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was tragically shot and killed in the antisemitic attack at the Synagogue in California.
The ceremony took place at Kfar Silver Youth Village, a part of the World ORT Kadima Mada school network, where local children helped to plant the trees. A plaque was laid alongside the trees bearing the inscription “May these trees grow to be a source of strength and hope of a bright future, befitting of Lori's blessed memory.”
The tree-planting initiative was spearheaded by Michael Ross, one of the winners of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement’s recent Venture Creative Contest to fight antisemitism. Ross initiated a project to plant olive trees in honor of those killed and other victims of antisemitic attacks. The 25 trees in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye are the first to be planted in this effort.
“I wanted to create a meaningful response to antisemitic attacks. The olive trees will grow as a symbol of life and hope in the face of hatred. Wherever antisemitic attacks occur, they will serve as a physical reminder that we must eradicate the evil of hatred and discrimination," Michael Ross commented.
The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement is a non-partisan, global grassroots movement of individuals and organizations, across all religions and faiths, united around the goal of ending antisemitism in all its forms.
Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, Director of the Movement, said: “The shooting did not happen by chance. It is an example of what can happen when hatred is allowed to go unchecked. The trees that we planted today are a powerful statement that we can and must create a better, more hopeful future. It is a fitting testament to the values which Lori stood for."
Applauding Michael Ross for his creativity, he added: "I encourage others to bring their own ideas and initiatives and be part of a truly cutting-edge movement against antisemitism. Only by working together can we defeat such bigotry.”
Last month, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement hosted a virtual memorial ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the Poway Synagogue shooting. Participants included survivors of the attack, plus Elan Carr (US Special Envoy for Combating Anti-Semitism), Danny Danon (Israel Ambassador to UN) and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion and Belief).
Since its launching in February 2019, 220 organizations and 245,000 individuals have joined the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.