Shira’s Last Song

From the Jewish Standard:

Shira Banki was a student at the Hebrew University High School. She was 16 and attended the Jerusalem Pride Parade as an ally of the LGBTQ community, and to show support for friends of hers. She was killed by a stab wound inflicted by a Hareidi-religious Jew that had attacked the same parade ten years before, and just completed his prison term. Banki was a pianist and this video of her playing is making the rounds online as people search for more information about her life, after it was ended so tragically.

Shira’s performance begins at 1:00.

(Tipped by JMG reader Mike)

  • Wynter Marie Starr

    Shira was a beautiful and talented child. Killed for a perverted and selfish vision of faith held by an arrogant extremist convinced his was the only version of life that mattered. Has there been any sort of meaningful response from his community? Or, does he have the full backing of his community?

    My deepest sympathies to Shira’s family, friends, and community.

    • Schlukitz

      We all mourn the senseless tragic loss of an innocent life.

      I cannot help but wonder if the killer feels any remorse over the fact that the person he killed was not even gay?

      • bambinoitaliano

        If he can justify killing a person he can justify all his guilt using whatever kakameme scriptures in his religion that tell him so.

        • Schlukitz


        • Lumpy Gaga

          The more typical spelling is “cockamamie”, but I like the idea of this killer being a kaka meme.

          • bambinoitaliano

            I would not waste a good cock on them 😛

      • Wynter Marie Starr

        I’m sure his only regret is that she wasn’t gay. I doubt that he feel any remorse about killing a straight ally.

        • Prixator

          Of course not – she was still participating in the “beast parade” so, obviously, worthy of death.

          Sick, sick, sick.

          • Wynter Marie Starr

            Sick indeed.

        • Ontogenesis

          His feeling about killing that precious child are probably the same as KKK members killing white supporters of black civil rights. They are equally “guilty.”

          • Wynter Marie Starr

            You’re likely correct.

      • David Walker

        I suspect his biggest regret is that he was caught.

        • Schlukitz

          I would agree with that.

        • Ian

          And was unable to kill more.

      • Do terrorists ever feel remorse? Do they allow themselves such feelings? Or are they even capable of them?

        • Schlukitz

          Excellent questions.

    • Ian

      Ultra-orthodox Jews are like the Amish, in that they stick to their communities and faith tradition. I imagine you won’t hear a peep from them. The Israeli government takes care of them so they can study, they are exempted from military service and then they have the chootzpah to say “God will provide” … NO the Israeli government provides you dingus.

      • Wynter Marie Starr

        I’m actually quite familiar with the ultra orthodox community. I’m a native New Yorker who grew up in a Reform Jewish nabe and who has worked in one of the orthodox communities. There are some similarities with the Amish, but I’d say their differences are far greater. In NY, the ultra orthodox community is fairly vocal. I’m also aware that the Israeli government supports this community so that the men can spend their time “studying” and the women can push out the babies.

        I’ve seen this community (in Israel) berate a little girl whose dress they felt was too short and I’ve also see the protests against women praying at the Wailing Wall. For people who refuse to serve in the military, their violence is very close to the surface. You would think that if only for the sake of decency, they’d make a statement. The longer they go without one, the more anger there will be toward them by regular citizens. But, maybe that isn’t a bad thing at this point.

        Extremism, no matter the flavor, is dangerous for the rest of us.

        • Regan DuCasse

          The most fundamental religious communities, don’t NOT contribute to the arts, sciences, medical technology, social justice, or letters.
          They are SO restricted, they do little but read the same ancient texts over and over, but where advances are made in all other human endeavors, such Orthodoxy, and regressed ideals, aren’t a part of it.
          Indeed, it’s held back mankind in so many ways. Genius and creativity was PUNISHED, and still is.
          Look at the idiot comments the most pious make about most of the social and cultural issues we debate with them.
          You’d think they were in a cave all their lives. And they are arrogant enough to think they haven’t benefited from the same social justice everyone does, or should.

          But they’ll claim credit for the good that’s occurred in a heartbeat, but refuse to own what has been horrific, damaging and done NO good whatsoever.
          I bet the asshole that stabbed Shira hasn’t done much with HIS life.
          But young Shira was already a shining light, ahead of her years.
          With the potential to do so much and give SO much joy to others.

          I am so sick and sad at the loss of this girl.
          This ya’fa bat.

          • Wynter Marie Starr

            I completely agree with you. It is impossible to contribute to the rest of humanity if only one book is studied your entire life. Discovery and process thrive in the light and need open minds. Those is in such restrictive communities are certainly not encouraged to think for themselves or to think differently. It makes sense; you can’t possible keep people tethered to such restrictive cultures if you allow them independence of thought, creativity, or allow them to question. We have seen this over and over throughout culture and history.

            Shira was a child. A baby if you want to get right down to it. Just beginning to figure out what she wanted and to stand up for her beliefs. Shira is worth 100 of the human slime that murdered her. As a parent it sickens and saddens me like you can’t believe.

  • bkmn

    Such a shame. I hope they reclassify the fundies as the extremists they are.

  • bambinoitaliano

    It’s not enough to just identify her as the faceless victim of such heinous crime. I hope there’s more of her. Let the Israel people look at her and try to rationalize away the hatred of not just one crazy man doing, rather the evil institution that stands behind and supported such irrational and illogical ideology that goes against the preservation of humanity.

  • Bj Lincoln

    While I am glad this video is making the rounds, I can’t watch it through my my pain and tears….
    It’s for a child like this I hope there is a heaven.

  • Mikey

    very sad news all around.

    (quick correction: your headline says “song”, but this is not a “song”… just a minor pet peeve of all classical musicians. a “song” is something that is sung. a “piece of music” is something that is performed by musicians.. in this case, the piece of music is a concerto – instrumental solo with orchestral accompaniment. please feel free to delete this comment if you should decide to alter your headline.)

    • David Walker

      Thank you. I have that little tic, too. And I have to smile a little at your definition. A song is sung, a piece of music is performed by musicians. Singers aren’t musicians? I understand that in some cases that is arguable. And then there’s the conductor/director. No one cares whether s/he’s regarded as a musician because no one pays attention to her/him anyway.

      • Mike in Texas

        It’s a pet peeve of mine too … Even in regard to Mendelsohn’s set of piano pieces named “Songs Without Words.”

      • Mikey

        The point isn’t that singers “aren’t musicians” but rather that there is vocal music, and there is instrumental music.
        A “song” is a uniquely vocal piece of music. However, not all vocal music is a “song”.

        By the way, it’s not so much “my definition” as it is basically the universal definition used by classical musicians everywhere.

    • JoeMyGod

      Point taken but I took the hed from the linked source.

      • Ore Carmi

        The headline is actually very clever, as the meaning of “shira” in Hebrew has to do with song. Depending on context, it either means “the act of singing” or “her song.”

    • You are being pedantic. A musician can sing through his or her instrument as expressively and movingly as through the voice; indeed to do so has always been one of the highest goals of the musician’s art — and the purely instrumental pieces entitled “song” are too numerous to list.

      Shira was a pianist, and the piano was her voice; what we hear in this clip can with perfect legitimacy be called her song.

      May we offer this piece which its composer called a simple song of peace, to her memory?

  • Mark

    That was quite sobering. Enough so to feel loss of such a very young life.

    Their hate is now in full public review and all their peddling and damage control will not restore what was mercilessly taken.

  • That was in 2009, when she was ten. She was good then — what would she have been like now, six years later — and in another ten years? The young lady had talent, talent that has been mown down before it could blossom.

    • Six Pins Delores


  • Toasterlad

    And people as me why I’m a militant atheist. The question should really be, why isn’t EVERYBODY?

    • JCF

      Because I was raised an LGBT-affirming Episcopalian? And have had many truly JOYOUS experiences (worship, work, fellowship) over the course of my entire life as queer Episcopalian? Since “I believe in Love, Alfie”? Because I believe Shira is eternally embraced by that Love? (just since you asked, Toasterlad—YMMV & Pax)

  • geoffalnutt

    Mental illness/religion keeps giving its gifts to mankind. His god told him to do it. Wrong god? Wrong vessel? What!? Religion hides the crazies very well.

  • Mike__in_Houston

    Truly sad. There is something very “I’ll show *you* that you aren’t the boss of me” in the killer’s immediately going back and doing the very same thing that got him ten years in prison a decade ago. Maybe it’s time to lock him up and throw away the key.

  • Ragnar Lothbrok

    I can only hope this leads to even more death to all religion.

  • ExGayTherapyKills

    Jews killing Jews just because they are LGBT, did no one tell them about their very long and sad history of persecution by others just because of their Jewish religion?

    • MattM

      Many Jews deny the persecution of gay men and women during the Holocaust. Even the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem only dedicates a 5’x5′ section of wall to the mention of it. And when questioned, tour guides are very quick to explain away the issue and move on to a different topic. I say this from experience.

      Hell, the memorial to gay and lesbian Holocaust victims in Berlin is hidden behind trees and bushes in the park that’s directly across the street from the main Holocaust memorial. And it was/is frequently vandalized.

      • leastyebejudged

        I recommend:
        The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals by Richard Plant

        Had a HUGE impact on me.

      • When plans were announced back in 1991 for the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial in Sydney’s Green Park the custodians of the Jewish Museum across the street (that’s it in the background of the picture) got their knickers all in knots about it, screaming that it insulted the true victims of the Holocaust and the Jewish community would never permit it. But it was dedicated in 1991 and is still there. The pink triangle can be lit up at night.

        The history is here:

        Garry Wotherspoon’s article on the significance of Green Park is here: though Garry downplays the central role played by St Vincent’s Hospital (which also faces Green Park) in the AIDS epidemic.

        And there is a short Wikipedia article on the Memorial here:

  • ChadSF

    What a gifted talent and life taken away so soon because of religious bigotry and indifference. But that beautiful soul gives me hope that our future lies within the youth.
    My deepest sympathies to Shira’s family, friends, and community.

  • DiAnne Barrett

    May Shira’s memory be a blessing.