She was only 16 when she was murdered for standing up for gay rights. Shira Banki, an idealistic Israeli stabbed at a Gay Pride march last summer in Jerusalem—and the principles of equality and respect she believed in—will continue to live on in ADL’s work.
On the fourth night of Hanukkah, ADL’s Israel Office held a candle lighting in Shira’s honor, attended by her parents, leaders of the LGBT community and members of Beit Hillel, a progressive Orthodox Israeli rabbinical organization.
Shira’s alleged killer was an ultra-Orthodox Jew who reportedly said the parade was “blasphemous,” and that members of the LGBT community “want to defile Jerusalem.” ADL’s Israel Office works with all minorities in Israeli society, including the LGBT community, and is a voice against racism and hate of all kinds.
“This is an evening in which we remember the dark day of Shira’s death,” said Carole Nuriel, Acting Director of the ADL Israel Office. “On the other hand, we wish to brighten the future and spread the light of hope and change—the hope to mend what is broken, which is the inability of some people to accept the other. … The good news is that such opinions are learned and can be unlearned. Uprooting these opinions will prevent the growth of the bitter fruit of racism, hatred and hostility. This is exactly the spirit that guides ADL in its work. No one should ever be harmed for expressing their views or supporting the rights of others.”
Accepting a gift of a menorah from Ms. Nuriel, Shira’s father, Ori Banki, said, “Our daughter’s murderer was sure that his heinous crime was shining a great light on Jerusalem, but instead it was a fire that taught us how much darkness was in the hearts of those who harbored it.”
Rabbi Shaul Weider of Beit Hillel condemned the violence that ended Shira’s life as “abominations,” and called for her actions to “resound and continue to be heard in the streets of Jerusalem, until we repeat the first divine utterance, ‘Let there be light.’”