Cote Saint-Luc Council was very touched to read about the donation of a Torah honouring the memory of Shira Banki, the 16-year-old who was murdered last July during Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade.
The donation was the work of Cote Saint-Luc resident and world renowned AIDS researcher Dr. Mark Wainberg.
“Your work in the area of AIDS researcher is well-known around the world. Your donation of a restored Torah to the Ethiopian community of Jerusalem is a wonderful act. We are proud of you as a distinguished Côte Saint-Luc resident,” Acting Mayor Dida Berku pronounced at last night’s council meeting.
The 150 year old Torah was donated to a municipality-founded Ethiopian synagogue in the capital of Israel.
The scroll, donated by Prof. Wainberg, an internationally recognized expert in the field of HIV research at the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University, was presented to the synagogue by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a ceremony last month.
“After Prof. Wainberg heard about Banki’s tragic death, he decided to honor her memory by donating a Torah to a community in Jerusalem,” the Jerusalem municipality said in a statement.
Wainberg, who completed his post-doctoral research at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, is director of McGill’s AIDS Centre at the Jewish General Hospital, where he also teaches medicine and microbiology.
The Torah was written in Baghdad and has been fully restored.
Wainberg told The Jerusalem Post that Banki’s death was “so tragic, so terrible… I thought it would be very nice if the family would agree for us to donate a sefer Torah for their daughter who died so needlessly.”
He noted that Banki’s parents wanted to donate it to the Ethiopian synagogue.
The ceremony, held in Barkat’s Jerusalem City Hall office, was attended by Banki’s parents, Mika and Uri; her uncle, Uri Neuman; Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman; former Cote Saint-Luc Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz; and Rabbi Shahar Aylin, who serves the Ethiopian congregation.
The Jerusalem mayor continued: “I would like to thank Prof. Wainberg for his meaningful donation and wish the Banki family, and all of us, many moments of happiness, joy, hope and light in Jerusalem.”
I have known Professor Wainberg for many years and and can attest to his profound sense of healing the world. He is a compassionate and benevolent academic and community leader and a model citizen, well deserving of many honours including the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec and France’s Legion d’honneur.
Congratulations Dr. Wainberg on this local recognition for worldwide contributions.