Can a Forest in Biblical Israel Symbolize Global Unity?

January 11, 2019

3 min read

“Forests, like the nation of Israel, are made up of many trees,” said Chaim Silberstein, whose grandson died three days after his mother was brutally shot and wounded by a Palestinian terrorist.

Landscape of Samaria (Credit: Maayan Hoffman/Breaking Israel News)

“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.”

On January 18, only a few days before the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat – the day that marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle – Israel365, together with the community of Ofra and the Silbersteins, will plant a new forest in the Shomron (Samaria) town of Ofra.


Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, Silberstein’s daughter and son-in-law, were shot on Dec. 9 at the Ofra junction. Five others were wounded, as well. Shira Ish-Ran was hit in the lower abdomen and pelvis and underwent surgery at a Jerusalem hospital, during which her baby – 30-weeks – was delivered in an emergency procedure. He died three days later.

Amichai Ish-Ran was shot in the leg.

“This forest will also plant hope that my daughter will be able to bring to life more trees, like Amiad,” Silberstein said.

Though often when such young babies die, parents do not give them names, the Ish-Rans chose to name their newborn Amiad Israel, which means “my people are here forever.”

“A well-populated forest symbolizes the idea of continuity and longevity, and this was the essence of Amiad Yisrael’s name – it symbolizes the eternality of the nation of Israel,” Silberstein explained.

Miraculously, since the attack just more than 30 days ago, Shira has started to recover. Earlier this week, she was moved from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where was being treated, to the rehabilitation hospital at Hadassah Ein Kerem. This, said Silberstein, is a “great sign of her medical progress and we feel optimistic that she will make a full recovery.”

He said he believes his daughter was saved by a miracle and he is grateful for that miracle and for the ongoing support and love the family has received from Jews and gentiles the world over.

Wedding photo of Amichai and Shira Ish-Ran, married in 2018. Both were wounded in a drive-by shooting by a Palestinian terrorist at a bus stop outside of the Jewish community of Ofra on Dec. 9, 2018. (Courtesy of the family)

“This tragedy has shown how the Jewish people can unify in a beautiful way if they want to,” Silberstein said. “We hope that we can find ways to continue this unity, not necessarily under tragic circumstances.”

He hopes the new forest in Ofra, which is largely being funded by Christian supporters of Israel, will symbolize global unity and showcase the power of God even in dark times.

Ofra is located in the historical and prophetic heartland of Biblical Israel. The people living in this area believe and understand that God is bringing the Jews back to the land as He has promised, and in the expectation of the coming of messiah.

Said Silberstein: “We who are living in the heartland of the land of Israel are at the forefront of the return of the Jewish people to their land and heritage.”

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