Finnish TV Channel Dedicates Tree Grove on Mount Tabor

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

“Cooperation between KKL-JNF and Heaven TV7 began in the summer of 2012, since then Finnish visitors have planted 4,219 trees in the Holy Land”

On October 25th KKL-JNF held a ceremony of appreciation for Martti Ojares, CEO and founder of the Finnish television channel Heaven TV7, and his wife Mirja, as an expression of thanks for their donation to the establishment of a grove of trees on Mount Tabor. This is the second grove donated by the Ojares family: the first was dedicated three years ago, on Mount Precipice in the Nazareth area.
The ceremony took place at KKL-JNF’s planting center at Golani Junction. KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, who presided over the event, told those present about KKL-JNF’s work to develop and preserve Israel’s forests and about Mr. and Mrs. Ojares’ important contribution both to KKL-JNF and to the Ohalo College of Education, where students from all sectors of Israel’s population study together.

Also present at the ceremony were additional representatives of Heaven TV7; Deputy Head of Mission at the Finnish Embassy in Israel Niina Nykänen and other embassy officials; Ethel Salutskij, President of KKL-JNF Finland; students from Katzrin’s Ohalo College; and Liri Eitan-Drai of KKL-JNF’s Finland Desk.

Martti Ojares’ special connection with Israel began in 2007, during a visit to Jerusalem. He had the idea of establishing a television channel that would broadcast from Israel, too, and, despite difficult beginnings, today the channel is flourishing and has hundreds of thousands of regular viewers in Finland, Sweden and Estonia – and, of course, a studio in Jerusalem.

In his speech at the ceremony, Martti Ojares told his listeners: “In November 2007 I visited Jerusalem, and even back then I already had a few ideas for a news channel from Israel. There were a number of obstacles: I wasn’t familiar with Israel and I didn’t speak the language. You can understand that it was a difficult task. To make a long story short, everything that has happened since has been like a poem. I began to feel great love coming from Israel. In Finland there are a lot of people who love Israel. Just as God has blessed Israel, we, too, are blessed when we contribute to it.” In conclusion he thanked KKL-JNF foresters for planting the trees, and KKL-JNF’s Liri Eitan-Drai.

President of KKL-JNF Finland Ethel Salutskij explained at the ceremony: “We are gathered here to celebrate the establishment of TV7’s second grove of trees, this time on Mount Tabor. The first grove was inaugurated three years ago in the beautiful Nazareth area. Mount Tabor, which is situated in northern Israel’s Galilee region, is 600 meters above sea level, and it is an important site in both the Old and New Testaments. Today it boasts a leisure area for excursions and a launching site for paragliding.”

“Cooperation between KKL-JNF and TV7 began in the summer of 2012, and since then Finnish visitors with the channel have planted 4,219 trees in the Holy Land,” added Ethel Salutskij. “This is a great achievement, and I should like to thank the TV channel and KKL-JNF Jerusalem for this excellent result. For us at KKL-JNF Finland it has been a pleasure to work with the TV channel in an agreeable and sociable atmosphere. At meetings and at events where we have chanced to work together, there has always been a sense of family, because Mirja and Martti are very warm people who make everyone feel welcome.”

Deputy Head of Mission at the Finnish Embassy in Israel Niina Nykänen spoke in similar terms: “It’s a privilege to be a part of the ceremony here today,” she said. “Finland and Israel have always had strong parliamentary relations, and that’s important. There is a bridge between the two countries, and KKL-JNF in both countries is an example of this. There’s a great deal of symbolism in a tree-planting of the kind these organizations do – it’s a portent for the future. For me, as I come from a country of large forests, trees are a symbol of home.”

“We at the embassy want to believe that we are also planting seeds, with the projects that we support. For example, the project that, through sports and information-technology studies, brings together Jews and Arabs who would not otherwise have met,” continued Niina Nykänen. “That’s the message we want to convey as we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Finland’s independence. At the embassy, the idea of peace in the Middle East is constantly before us. I am greatly impressed by KKL-JNF’s project, which is helping to bring a better future to the region.”

Just as they donate towards the establishment of woodlands in Israel, so, too, Martti and Mirja Ojares donate scholarships for students of scarce economic means who are studying education and teaching at Ohalo College of Education in Katzrin. The couple’s connection with the college began about five years ago through Netanel Bar David, a technical assistant at the college who was also present at the ceremony on October 25th.

Dr. Or Levental, Dean of Students at Ohalo College, spoke of Martti and Mirja Ojares’ support: “These wonderful people from Finland present extremely generous scholarships to students who really need them. This is an excellent opportunity for us to express our thanks to them.”

After the ceremony and the unveiling of the appreciatory plaque, Martti and Mirja Ojares, Ethel Salutskij and a number of students were led by KKL-JNF forester Shmuel Wiesel on a guided tour of Mount Precipice. The excursion included views of the Jezreel Valley from the Mount Precipice scenic lookout and a visit to the site where trees donated by Martti and Mirja Ojares were planted three years ago.