January 18, 2016
Good evening, everyone, and thank you for coming.
In memory of Shira, in honor of Dr. Mark Weinberg, and in appreciation of the congregation here, we wish to say a few words.
Dedicating a Torah scroll in memory of Shira is not a natural thing for us, but we nonetheless thank you all for this special occasion.
Shira was raised in a Jewish home. An Israeli home, totally Zionist and secular, and we, her parents, are secular with no religious faith whatsoever. That said, to our friends, dedicating a Torah scroll in memory of our daughter – who was murdered precisely in the name of religious zealotry in the style of Isis or the Zealots of the Second Temple – is an important ray of light that reminds us of our commitment to Shira’s way of tolerance and respect for every person whoever he or she is, even if their sexual orientation or religious observance, or color of their skin, is different from our own.
Ori and I, Shira’s parents, are Jews, our parents are Jews and our children are Jews, and we are part of this nation with all its ideological and religious movements and diversity, and we fiercely oppose anyone who seeks and designates degrees of Jewishness. In our mind there are Ethiopian Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, haredi Jews, Reform Jews, knitted kippa Jews, Mizrahi Jews, and, of course, secular Jews, in addition to numerous other types of Jews. Among them all you will find good and worthy people, whom it is worthwhile be with, to get to know, and who should be taught and learned from. No one has the right to rule out the other and classify them; we have a shared destiny, whether we wish it or not. Generations of enemies of Jews did not check how religious any one Jew was; as far as they were concerned, we were one and the same.
And as over the generations, Jews suffered together, we too should live together in our country and in our world, in both good times and bad, without constantly examining each other.
Shira, whom we are commemorating today, was courageous enough to understand this from early childhood. She did not distinguish one person from another, except on the basis of their conduct, honesty, integrity and heart, and we wish we could all do the same.
This coming Shabbat is called Shabbat Shira for Shirat Hayam (the Song of the Sea prayer). We would not pretend to interpret and analyze it, but we cannot ignore the importance of the women in this Torah portion, the equality of all of the People of Israel, all standing – men, women, and infants – as they sing thanksgiving and the uniqueness attributed to the singing of the women, headed by Miriam the Prophet.
Our Shira also knew to march at the head, to lead, to see the independent place of women in society, their song, either as individuals or as part of the nation – but as an equal part, a special part, and of equal value.
We thank, from the bottom of our hearts, Dr. Weinberg for his generous donation and that he saw, from a distance, the importance of this gesture in memory of Shira, here and now. We also thank Rabbi Haim Steinmetz for his help in implementing this, and we hope that this Torah scroll will serve the congregation here every week as a badge of honor and reminder to the readers of the scroll, unify them in the people of Israel, and remind them of the disaster that the extremists bring upon us, and how important it is to stay away from them.