On Friday, on a windswept mountainside in Israel’s Biblical heartland, an extended family, united in grief but strengthened by faith assembled to plant a forest in the memory of a murdered baby and an innocent soul.
Amiad Yisrael, son of Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran was perhaps Israel’s youngest victim of a more-than-century long conflict with the Palestinians. They were joined by family members, friends and residents from the Ofra community, in addition to representatives from Israel365 to plant 300 trees.
“Forests, like the nation of Israel, are made up of many trees,” said Chaim Silberstein, Amiad’s grandfather. “A beautiful sapling, prematurely born to my daughter and son-in-law, was brutally murdered and deprived of the opportunity to grow and flourish,” Silberstein continued. “Although Amiad Yisrael did not merit to become a tall and proud tree in the nation of Israel, planting a forest in his memory will both help to perpetuate the memory of his short but meaningful life, as well as plant hope.”
The Israel Bible’s publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz was present at the forest’s planting, was struck by the power and simplicity of the day. “Shira and Amichai came straight from the hospital to plant trees for their murdered baby,” he said. “It was very meaningful for them… and for everyone else. They deeply appreciated the fact that hundreds of Christian supporters from across the world gave so generously to make this gesture a reality… and help to try and fill the void in their hearts.”
On December 9, as Amiad’s parents were waiting for a bus at Ofra Junction, Palestinian terrorists drew up in a car and sprayed the Ish-Rans and others with bullets. What made this attack in particular, different, yet more cowardly and terrible, was that Shira Ish-Ran was 30 weeks pregnant. Reports from the scene suggested that the terrorists – who have both now either been arrested or killed – deliberately aimed at her lower abdomen and pelvis. She was rushed to hospital, where doctors performed an emergency C-section; however, Amiad, born prematurely also died prematurely, just three days later