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steven sotloff 2Lives foundation, hostage, journalism, journalist, syria, middle east, beheading, ISIS




Artist: Tracy Ellyn

Title: SEEDS: In Memory of Steven Sotloff

Mixed media on metal and plexi




“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”     -Elie Wiesel


Commemorating the tragic loss of Steven Sotloff and in tribute to his commitment to excellence in news reporting, this memorial artwork helps to assure that the world never forgets his story. It is hoped that the professionalism, determination and strength of this extraordinary young journalist will continue to touch the lives of others for generations to come.


This 5 foot tall memorial makes no mention of Steven’s tragic passing, but rather of his wish for peace that he strove for through his journalism. In fact, the only symbolic hint of any Middle East conflict is the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount in the background. However, the Sim Shalom (Prayer to Grant Peace), written in the sky above Jerusalem where he lived as an adult, overcomes even that conflict, asking for peace, kindness, righteousness, blessing, mercy and life.

The pomegranates, symbols of Israel and the Middle East, are traditionally the fruits of righteousness, because they each are said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. They are the symbol of life in all the major religions, and because they are evergreen throughout the year, they are also the symbol of immortality of the soul.

Pomegranates are coming forth to us in the US from Jerusalem, spreading their seeds, from which new life is growing abundantly in the form of orchids. The orchid is known throughout history and cultures for its healing, disease-fighting and protective properties, and well as bravery and strength, and, of course, fertility or new life.

The now infamous words of Steven, smuggled out in two letters to his family while he was held hostage, are embedded copiously into all the lush new life of greenery that is growing into the foreground. One of his many sentences contained in the greenery is, “Everyone has two lives: the 2nd one begins when you realize you have only one.”


Other words depicted here from his two smuggled letters include, “Do what makes you happy. Be where you are happy. Love and respect each other. Don't fight over nonsense. Hug each other every day.  Eat dinner together. Live your lives to the fullest. Stay positive and patient. God rewards those who are patient."

Steven Sotloff art memorial by Tracy Ellyn

Look closely and you will see the Prayer for Peace above Jerusalem and excerpts from his last letter saying goodbye to his parents in the greenery up close in America.


Image Copyright 2014 Tracy Ellyn and Steven Sotloff Memorial 2Lives Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Collection of Greenspoon Marder Law Foundation and Temple Beth Am.



The Steven Sotloff Memorial Garden is located at the historic Pinecrest Gardens in Miami, near where Steven grew up. The memorial is located under the Great Banyan Tree in a shaded area with nearby seating.


The garden is centered on three water features, a long-time tenet of garden design, often referring to Heaven, Earth and Man. The water features are purpose-built to show harmonious yet quiet water movement, using travertine stone as the base stonework.


The garden plantings surrounding the water features are composed of a spectrum of plant types, with Peace Lilies as the forefront of the planting, paired with soft ferns and luxuriant Begonias, gingers, and palms.


The Sotloffs helped design the memorial by choosing the elements, plants and colors that would allow for meaningful reflection.


“I have known Steven's parents, Art and Shirley, for years, and knew Steven since his birth,” said Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. “Though he suffered a barbaric execution, publicized for the world to see, it must not be what we remember him by. Rather [we should remember] his desire as a young journalist to shed light on conflict and its impact on innocents all over the world. The Steven Sotloff memorial will shed this light for further reflection, to all who visit the Gardens.”

Home Depot was a principal partner, with their vendors contributing plants and supplies. The Pinecrest Home Depot staff contributed their time and good cheer on a recent morning to help plant the core plantings of the garden.

Steven Sotloff Memorial Garden in Pinecrest Gardens Miami Florida cindy lerner
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