In loving memory of Alicia Ross
In May 2006 an entire section of 50 trees were planted in a forest in Modiíin, Israel in memory of Alicia. Sheri Shefa reported on the ceremony in the June 1, 2006 issue of The Canadian Jewish News. The following is the entire story.

Birthrighters plant trees in memory of Alicia Ross

Participants on birthright israel took part in a tree planting ceremony in Israel last week in honour of Alicia Ross, a Toronto woman who was murdered last summer by her neighbour.

Aviad Amitai, the leader of Canada Israel Experience trip Extreme Adventure 1, said he put in a request a few months ago to CIE to dedicate a tree planting ceremony to Ross, whom he became friends with after being in charge of security on her birthright trip in 2001.

While all CIE trips include a tree-planting ceremony — each one dedicated to someone else — Amitai wanted to do it in Rossí honour because of her love for nature and the outdoors.

Ross and Amitai clicked instantly when they met five years ago in Israel, and they remained friends and even travelled together in the years following the birthright trip.

A website created in Rossí memory says that her love for the outdoors and nature began in 1988, after her first canoe trip on Georgian Bay.

Years later, Ross became a tripper at Camp White Pine, where she led groups of children on canoe trips throughout Northern Ontario.

"She loved Israel very much, loved nature, loved the outdoors, and I just found it appropriate to commemorate her," Amitai said.

Ross' connection with nature was so much a part of who she was that her family created the Alicia Ross Memorial Fund for Youth in association with Project C.A.N.O.E. (which is short for Creative And Natural Outdoor Experience), an organization that helps at-risk youth ages 13 to17 gain self-esteem and life skills through wilderness canoe trips.

Amitai said he and his group planted 50 trees — an entire section of a forest in Modiíin, Israel — during which Amitai spoke about Ross and how much it would have meant to her.

Dean Solo, 26, was Rossí high school friend and one of the birthright participants who planted a tree in her name.

"I thought it was a beautiful moment. It was thoughtful and touching of Aviad to dedicate it to Alicia, because he knows how much she loved nature and Israel," Solo said.

"Aviad spoke about her, said some kind words and showed pictures of her. For the people who didnít know her, this helped put a face to her name," he added.

Vanessa Emer, 25, also went to high school with Ross and planted a tree for her.

"It was extremely touching, and I felt very privileged to plant a tree in her honour. I lived down the street from her and [her murder] impacted the entire community and the Jewish community," Emer said.

"What Aviad said really helped people understand who she was, how connected she was to nature and what this would have meant to her."