Ceremony Honors Chile’s National Hero General O’Higgins

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 12:58 PM

KKL-JNF holds the annual ceremony in memory of Chile’s liberator, General Bermardo O’Higgins, in Chile Forest near Jerusalem, on August 10.

The O'Higgins memorial ceremony was attended by the Chilean ambassador to Israel, ambassadors of other Latin American countries and representatives of KKL-JNF. The ceremonial plaza, which was built by KKL-JNF with donations from its Friends in Chile and from former Chileans now living in Israel, is named after General O’Higgins. Bernardo O’Higgins (1778-1842) was one of the leaders of Chile’s War of Independence as it struggled to free itself from the yoke of Spanish rule, and one of the founding fathers of the independent state of Chile.

Ceremony participants lay flowers at the monument honoring General O'Higgins in Chile Forest in Eshtaol. Photo: Yoav Devir

Chilean Ambassador to Israel Jorge Montero. Photo: Yoav Devir“It is very important to us that we have the opportunity to pay our respects here in Israel to the liberator of Chile,” said Chilean Ambassador to Israel Jorge Montero. “This ceremony is a wonderful example of the good relations between our two countries. Although Chile’s Jewish community is not large, it is very active and it plays an important role in the life of the country. Jews who left Chile in order to immigrate to Israel provide a link between our two peoples,” he added.

The development of Chile Forest, which is situated within Eshtaol Forest on the way to Jerusalem, was made possible thanks to KKL-JNF’s Friends in Chile. Apart from serving as a venue for meetings, ceremonies and other events for former Chileans and visiting Chilean delegations, the forest also attracts a great many visitors. Facilities provided by this popular site include a recreation area dedicated to the memory of Noy and Rosa Furman of Santiago, which offers picnic spots and playground equipment for children; a decorative stone plaza named after National Senator Angel Faivovich; and attractive stone paths that link the various sites to one another. Touvia Goldstein, President of the Israel-Chile Cultural Institute. Photo: Yoav DevirThe main forest trail bears the name of social pioneer Leon Kaplun, who initiated the establishment of the O’Higgins Plaza. The bike path that passes nearby attracts large numbers of cyclists, and on the day of the ceremony, too, riders could be seen pedaling along the path.

Touvia Goldstein, President of the Israel-Chile Cultural Institute, told his listeners that O’Higgins had been adopted by Jewish parents who had raised and educated him, and had thus laid the foundations of his special relationship with Judaism. “He was not just a national hero, he was also a humanist whose world view was informed by respect of the other,” emphasized Goldstein in his speech at the ceremony.

Juan Ibanez, the Chilean military attaché in Israel. Photo: Yoav DevirThe Israel-Chile Cultural Institute works to strengthen links between the two countries, and it has been holding the memorial ceremony in Chile Forest ever since the ceremonial plaza was inaugurated some twenty-five years ago. Touvia Goldstein pointed out that KKL-JNF plays a major role in the activities of the Institute by helping to foster ties between the two nations. For example, the Institute is currently hosting an exhibition of photographs taken by Israeli backpackers who visited Chile and photographed its beautiful landscapes; now, with the help of KKL Chile, this exhibition is simultaneously touring different cities throughout both Chile and Israel.

Honored guests at the ceremony laid wreaths at the foot of the impressive stone monument that commemorates General O’Higgins, which incorporates a metal plaque embossed with his portrait.

Ariel Goldgewicht, Director of KKL-JNF’s Latin America Desk. Photo: Yoav Devir Juan Ibanez, the Chilean military attaché in Israel, said that the general exemplifies the links between Chile and Israel. “He is a national hero who led the struggle for our independence. Chile and Israel are both small nations that strive to preserve their freedom in a complex environment,” he explained.  

Director of KKL-JNF’s Latin America Desk Ariel Goldgewicht described KKL-JNF’s extensive activities for the further development of Israel, including tree planting, community development in the Negev and Galilee, agriculture and the building of reservoirs. “General O’Higgins fought for a better world, and we, today, follow in his footsteps,” he said. “The forests planted in the Jerusalem Hills protect the environment, create life and provide a place where we can remember the heroes of the past,” he concluded.

Photo Gallery: Click on each thumbnail for the full image