Fruit Tree Grove in Carmel Forest Dedicated in Memory of Michael Sternheimer

Wednesday, May 06, 2015 3:41 PM

Fruit tree grove in Carmel Forest was dedicated in memory of Michael Sternheimer.

Ever since the huge Carmel Forest fire that took place in December 2010, KKL-JNF has been involved in rehabilitation efforts, with an emphasis on supporting natural renewal processes. On Wednesday, April 29, a fruit tree grove was dedicated to the memory of Michael Sternheimer, who passed away in 2008.

Michael Sternheimer's wife Gudrun Beierbach, Honorary Chairman of the German-Israeli Friendship Society Hans Georg-Meyer, and Ronit Arazi, sister of Michael Sternheimer, display certificates of appreciation from KKL-JNF. Photo: Tania Susskind

On Wednesday, April 29, a fruit tree grove on the slopes of the Carmel Forest was dedicated in memory of Michael Sternheimer, who grew up in the region and was active his entire life in promoting Israeli-German ties. Attending the ceremony were a number of guests who came especially from Germany, Michael's friends and family in Israel, and KKL-JNF personnel, including Shlomit Levy of KKL-JNF's German Desk. The fruit tree grove was planted on ancient terraces that were exposed as a result of the great 2010 Carmel Forest fire, restoring the scenery that had graced the Carmel for many years.

Newly planted fruit trees on the terraces. Photo: Tania Susskind

Ronit Arazi
, Michael's sister, described her brother and his life: "My brother and I were born and grew up next to the Carmel Forest. As a child, he was dyslexic before it had been identified as a learning problem, and his teachers thought that this incredibly industrious boy was just lazy. He became a simultaneous translator by chance, when a friend of his asked him to substitute for him at the trial of an Israeli criminal in Germany. For Michael, words were like music, and he translated like a musician who plays music written by someone else, beautifully and sensitively. He transmitted not only the words, but also the intent. He promoted ties between Germany and Israel and was a true lover of humanity. From him I learned love of family and friends, tolerance and openness. 

"When we were children, we would sneak into the forest and pick the wild fruits that grew there. There could be no better way of honoring Michael's memory than a fruit tree plantation in the Carmel. I would like to thank everybody who contributed to this effort, especially KKL-JNF, who supported and accompanied us from the very beginning."

KKL-JNF Forester Eran Zabadi. Photo: Tania Susskind

KKL-JNF forester Eran Zabadi, who studied forestry in Germany, welcomed the guests and thanked them for supporting this project. He reviewed KKL-JNF's history and also described the great Carmel forest fire that took place in December 2010. "The Carmel has not been the same since then," he said, "but in some ways, it is becoming healthier and more beautiful. On behalf of KKL-JNF, I want to thank you for being part of the forest's restoration process."

The German-Israeli Friendship Society was founded in 1983. Its task is to promote knowledge and understanding about the special relations between Israel and Germany and about Israel's history. Its goals include strengthening mutual tolerance between different cultures, promoting understanding between people, confronting Israel and Germany's history, organizing exchange programs between people of both nations, especially young people, and more.

Hans Georg-Meyer, honorary chairman of the German-Israeli Friendship Society, who had been a close friend of Michael's, noted that everyone who knew Michael "remembers his personality, his ability to express himself, his willingness to help, his laugh. For him, translation was an art. I was at a number of encounters between Israeli and Palestinian authors that Michael translated for. He had the amazing ability of sensitively using intonation to make the other side hear what was being said, even if they had no patience to whatsoever. He was a real mentsch, and I miss him very much."

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