More than two dozen olive trees have been planted at the Kfar Silver Youth Village in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was tragically shot and killed in an antisemitic attack at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California a year ago.
The ceremony took place at the World ORT Kadima Mada network school on Thursday, with students from the village helping 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 led by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement – a non-partisan, global grassroots movement of individuals and organizations across all religions and faiths, united around the goal of ending anti-Semitism in all its forms.
The moving event at Kfar Silver was ORT’s first collaboration with the group. The planting was conceived by Michael Ross, who won a contest organized by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement to come up with creative ideas to fight Jew-hatred.
Dan Green, World ORT Acting Director General and CEO, said: “The scourge of anti-Semitism has increased rapidly across the world in recent years, including in many countries where ORT schools operate.
“It is vital that all of us work together to combat this hatred, in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s heroic actions, and in memory of all those whose lives have been lost or forever changed by senseless anti-Semitism.
“We are extremely proud that Kfar Silver’s students are the first to support this initiative and we commend Michael Ross and the Combat Antisemitism Movement for their efforts.”
Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, director of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, said: “It is so important to honor the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye and also to remember those who were injured in the appalling anti-Semitic attack at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue.
“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.
“I applaud Michael Ross for his creativity. I encourage others to bring their own ideas and initiatives and be part of a truly cutting-edge movement against anti-Semitism. Only by working together can we defeat such bigotry.”
Michael Ross added: “I wanted to create a meaningful response to anti-Semitic attacks. The olive trees will grow as a symbol of life and hope in the face of hatred. Wherever anti-Semitic attacks occur, they will serve as a physical reminder that we must eradicate the evil of hatred and discrimination.”