“Nothing is more fitting as a memorial than a baseball field named for Ezra,” said the terror victim’s father.
By United with Israel Staff
A groundbreaking ceremony for a baseball field in central Israel named for American terror victim Ezra Schwartz was held on January 15. The 18-year-old was shot by a Palestinian terrorist in 2015 while traveling to volunteer at a nature reserve in Gush Etzion, outside of Jerusalem.
In attendance were Raanana’s Mayor Chaim Broyde and members of Israel’s Olympic baseball team.
A letter, written by Ezra’s father, Ari, and posted on Facebook, was read at the gathering by the teen’s uncle Yoav Schwartz, who lives in Raanana. In it, he pointed out that his son was not a martyr nor a soldier.
“He was just a boy… A boy who loved baseball. A boy who loved being in Israel for the year with his friends before he was to start college at Rutgers University in the fall,” read Yoav. “His life came to an end but his passion and love for the game will live on in this field. Nothing is more fitting as a memorial than a baseball field named for Ezra.”
The baseball field is in Raanana Park. It is being built with funds raised by the Schwartz family, spearheaded by Yoav and Ezra’s grandmother Heni Schwartz, the Israel Association of Baseball and the Jewish National Fund.
Though soccer is generally considered the sport of choice in Israel, baseball has grown with the influx of Americans immigrating to the country. It is promoted in Raanana, where hundreds of boys and girls play the game. However, due to housing built on the city’s old field, Raanana lacked a facility for the sport.
“I can’t imagine Ezra’s life without baseball and I can’t imagine growing up and not having a field to play on,” the letter continued. “This field is a gift from Ezra to all the kids who will laugh and scream after a big win. This field feels like Ezra is sharing his passion with all those kids who will create memories here that they will never forget.”
The bereaved father shared that his son struggled in school, “but when he was on the baseball field it was like he put on his Superman uniform.”
Crediting Ezra for the many life lessons he learned from his son, Ari said that he remains a “father in pain. It hurts every day and every moment and it hurts that Ezra can’t be here to see his brothers succeed on the baseball field. He would be so proud.”
Ending on a bittersweet note, Yoav read, “Terrorism can take a life but it can’t break the spirit of the Jewish people and it can’t break the spirit of Ezra’s family, his schools Maimonides and Striar Hebrew Academy, his camp Yavneh, his Yeshiva Ashreinu, and his friends and it can’t break the spirit of this beautiful country of Israel.”
Referencing the 1989 Academy Award nominee for “Best Picture of the Year” movie, he said, “This will not be a ‘Field of Dreams,’ like in the movies. I will never be able to have a catch with my son again. But so many dads and hopefully a lot of moms will be out here having a catch with their kids, and everyone who has worked on this field will look on with pride and happiness and knowledge that we have overcome evil by creating something beautiful.”
The field is expected to be finished within the year.
Send 'Warm Winter' Care Packages to Israeli Soldiers - They are Cold!
We are honored to thank the young men and women of the IDF who risk their lives every day to defend the citizens of Israel.
Join us in sending winter care packages and personal notes of support to Israeli soldiers who are out in the cold all day.
Warm up a soldier's heart with essential winter wear including fleece jackets. Keep an entire unit warm by ordering 10 packages... The soldiers truly appreciate your love and concern!