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A Song for Shira: Remembering Shira Banki

A Song for Shira: Remembering Shira Banki

A woman with dark brown hair

The air stood still in Jerusalem’s Zion Square last night.

More than a thousand teens and young adults gathered there to attend a memorial service organized by the Jerusalem Open House. They came to grieve the loss of Shira Banki, the 16-year old girl who died yesterday afternoon days after being stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox man at last Thursday’s Jerusalem LGBTQ Pride March.

They placed candles on the pavement in the shape of the words "לא תרצח" - "Thou Shalt Not Kill."  Then they hugged and cried.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a pre-recorded statement, offered his condolences.  His face was ashen.  His eyes betrayed the same shock and pain felt by all.

Shira’s family was grieving privately last night.  But they requested that Jonathan Geffen's song "Shir L'Shira" - "A Song for Shira" performed by Korin Allal (one of Israel's most beloved rock singers) be played at the gathering. Korin herself took the stage and sang:

Speak now, little girl, I hear you                          דברי עכשיו ילדה אני שומעת
The whole world is listening to your whispers.      כל העולם מקשיב למלמולך
Speak, my angel, I know                                   דברי, מלאך שלי, אני יודעת    
We didn’t always listen to your voice.                     שלא תמיד הקשיבו לקולך

Speak bare lips, speak eyes                        דברו שפתיים יחפות, דברו עיניים
As long as milk drips from you smile                       כל עוד חלב נוטף מחיוכך
Hug all of my fears in your two hands            חבקי את כל פחדי בשתי ידייך
Hug big bears in your sleep.                          חבקי דובים גדולים מתוך שנתך  

A new and better world I will give you                 עולם חדש וטוב אני אתן לך
Already in a blue gaze you discover                     כבר במבט כחול את מגלה
How important it is to suddenly                  כמה חשוב לראות פתאום חצי ירח
       see a half moon
winking, yellow yellow from                            קורץ צהוב צהוב מתוך האפילה
       within the darkness.

Be small, nothing will harm you                      תהיי קטנה מאומה לא יפגע בך
A butterfly pin tied to your hair                           סיכת פרפר קשורה בשערך 
Be small, nothing will escape you                   תהיי קטנה מאומה לא יברח לך
I will be an adult for you too.                               אני אהיה גדולה גם בשבילך

After songs were sung and speeches spoken, people went their separate ways into the night. And out of shared pain and tears over the sacrifice of a 16-year old girl, a new generation of activists was born.

Anat Hoffman is the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in Israel. She is also the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, a group of Jewish women and men from around the world who strive to achieve the right of women to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Anat Hoffman
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