KKL-JNF recently hosted a delegation of Russian-speaking journalists from all over the world. During their visit in Israel, the delegates took part in a festive event held in Tel Aviv for the country’s Russian-speaking population, to celebrate the 115th anniversary of the founding of KKL-JNF.
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“Every nation lives beneath its own sky, which is precisely the same size as the area of ground beneath its feet.”
This sentence passed into the history of the Jewish People at the start of the last century when it was pronounced by Zionist leader Menahem Ussishkin, the fourth chairman of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund. Ussishkin devoted his life and energies to the acquisition of territory in the Land of Israel, and this statement, which inspired his Zionist activism, was the banner under which the celebrations of the 115th anniversary of the founding of KKL-JNF took place.
On December 20th, a special event organized by KKL-JNF Euro-Asia was held at the Gesher Theater in Tel Aviv for members of Israel’s Russian-speaking population, and it drew large crowds. The event, held in the presence of Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, was attended by Russian-speaking residents of Israel, guests from abroad, Knesset members, mayors, journalists and KKL-JNF staff members.
Among the speakers were KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Chairman of the KKL-JNF Euro-Asia Board of Directors Attorney Amir Schneider and Euro-Asia Director-General Igal Yasinov.
The 115th anniversary celebrations began early in the morning with tours organized by KKL-JNF’s Russian-speaking department for participants from sixteen major cities in Israel. Visits to KKL-JNF sites were led by Russian-speaking guides, who had undergone a special course designed to extend KKL-JNF activities to the Russian-speaking community, in order to increase this sector’s involvement in KKL-JNF’s work and strengthen its identification with the Land of Israel.
An exhibition of historical photos from the KKL-JNF photo archive was on display in the lobby of the Gesher Theater, portraying events and major landmarks in the annals of settlement in the Land of Israel and the creation of the Jewish State, with special emphasis on the role played by KKL-JNF.
After the reception, honored guests lit the Hanukkah candles, and a special festive concert took place by their light.
Among those participating in the event was a delegation of journalists from Russian-language media outlets in the USA, Canada, Australia, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. These journalists were visiting Israel at the invitation of KKL-JNF Euro-Asia. During their stay they visited KKL-JNF sites all over the country, met with staff members from the organization, and talked with KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar.
During the four days they spent in Israel, the delegates toured the country with KKL-JNF staff members as their escorts and guides. They travelled all the way from the Golan Heights in the north to Kibbutz Ruhama in the Negev. Their guides showed them a variety of KKL-JNF projects ranging from the building of reservoirs and the rehabilitation of fire-stricken woodlands to the support of research and development stations and the promotion of community forests.
The tours were prefaced by a lecture from Dr. Aryeh Ben, founder and director of the KKL-JNF Museum, in the historic building on Tel Aviv’s Hermann Shapira Street.
The delegates were greatly impressed by their meeting with KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar, who spoke to them about KKL-JNF’s current activities in areas that are so vital for the residents of Israel. Atar described these activities as a classic expression of modern-day Zionism. The world chairman also told the delegates about the challenges that face KKL-JNF in this new era, and spoke to them of the organization’s plans to extend its activities among Russian-speaking communities both in Israel and abroad.
In northern Israel’s Lavie Forest, the journalists got to plant trees in a new woodland plot. All the delegates said that planting a tree in Israel was a highly exciting and significant event in their lives. Some shed a tear, while others asked if they could plant another tree in honor of a family member or in memory of parents. One journalist swore on the spot that he would bring his five sons to Israel in the summer and plant a tree for each one of them.
“This year, one hundred and fifteen years after the founding of KKL-JNF, we have launched a partner organization called KKL-JNF Euro-Asia, which is designed to help us extend KKL-JNF’s activities in the Former Soviet Union, and also, of course, among Russian-speaking citizens of Israel. KKL-JNF is prepared, and I shall be happy to cooperate with different countries in spheres where KKL-JNF leads the way and can make a contribution from its wealth of experience and scientific and technological expertise. I’m talking about areas such as the environment, cutting-edge agricultural techniques, water reservoir management, combating desertification, and, of course, forestry. We have a great many achievements and technological innovations to our credit in each of these spheres,” concluded KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar at his meeting with the journalists’ delegation.
Later on in the meeting, Danny Atar told the journalists that, to his satisfaction, since the establishment of KKL-JNF Euro-Asia several months ago, a great deal of very productive work has already been done.
“Among other things, the organization has taken part in celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel, which were held in Russia in September 2016. It has also constructed and displayed an exhibit at the Israel Opens Doors exhibition, which was visited by the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Now, as we celebrate the 115th birthday of KKL-JNF, we are planning an additional series of activities for Russian-speaking populations,” said the world chairman.