Press Releases

Olive Trees Planted in Israel in Memory of Poway Synagogue Shooting Victim

May 18, 2020

18 May 2020 (New York) – 25 olive trees have been planted at a ceremony in southern Israel, in order to perpetuate the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was tragically shot and killed in an anti-Semitic attack just over a year ago at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue.

The ceremony took place at Kfar Silver Youth Village, which is 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 anti-Semitic attacks. The 25 trees in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye are the first to be planted in this effort.

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 anti-Semitism in all its forms.

Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Director : “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 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.

“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 commented, “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.”

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 Combatting 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 by signing the campaign’s pledge. The CAM Pledge draws upon the IHRA international definition of anti- Semitism and its list of specific behaviors used to discriminate against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.

Combat Anti-Semitism recently announced the launch of its latest Venture Contest with a total prize fund of $50,000 for new initiatives to fight anti-Semitism.