Mother of murdered Israeli boy visits Camden and calls for Jewish unity

Jon Benjamin chief operating officer of World ORT, Dan Green national director of ORT UK with Bat Ga

Jon Benjamin chief operating officer of World ORT, Dan Green national director of ORT UK with Bat Galim Shaer and Anat Schwarz Weil at ORT House 20.10.15. - Credit: Archant

A mother whose teenage son was kidnapped and brutally murdered by terrorists in Israel last year has visited Camden to promote the Jerusalem Unity Prize within the Jewish community.

Bat Galim Shaer was at ORT House in Camden Town on Tuesday to talk about her experience and her vision for Jewish Unity Day.

Both the Unity Prize and Unity Day were founded in memory of her 16-year-old son, Gil-ad, and two other murdered boys, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped from a bus stop on their way home from school, and whose bodies were found 18 days later.

ORT is a leading charity for the training and education of Jewish people, and is working to involve as many local Jewish schools as possible with the Unity Prize, which honours those who are committed to unifying efforts within the Jewish community.

It is not known if the three boys were killed by Hamas, who denied involvement, but the murders unleashed an outpouring of grief in Israel, and in the Jewish community around the world.

Mrs Shaer said of her son: “He was a very responsible boy, very smart and studious, a deep-thinker. But at the same time, he was a very happy boy and knew how to enjoy life. He was a very special combination of things.”

Mrs Shaer has five daughters, and said the family has good days and bad as they try to come to terms with the loss of Gil-ad, but believes that putting her energy into founding the Unity Prize has enabled her to turn her family’s tragedy into something positive.

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“We got so much support from Jewish people all over the world last summer that we wanted to take that feeling of unity and care forward and keep it going, and that is how we came to make the Unity prize.”

The first ever Unity Day took place in 24 countries around the world in June to mark the one year anniversary of the murders.

On the day, pupils from different Jewish schools met each other in an attempt to break down barriers that exist within the Jewish faith.

Director of the Unity Prize, Anat Schwatz Weil, said she was very much looking forward to working with ORT and to bringing Unity Day to London’s Jewish schools.

She said: “We hope all the different kinds of Jewish schools can come together. That’s the meaning of unity.”