Tuesday, September 05, 2017
The excitement on the faces of the Saywitz family from California was obvious to all when they arrived at American Independence Park
west of Jerusalem. After all, your child doesn’t celebrate his Bar Mitzvah every day, and doing so in Israel is extra special.
“We’ve already been planning this visit for a year, and I’m very happy for the privilege to be here,” said 13 year-old Ryan Benjamin Saywitz
from Newport Beach. “This is my first visit to Israel, and it’s been a pleasant surprise for me,” the young boy added.
The family came for a two-week visit to Israel, during which they toured the entire county from the Golan in the north
to Eilat in the south
, including celebrating Ryan’s Bar mitzvah at an unforgettable ceremony at the Western Wall. “I feel as if bringing my family to Israel is the greatest accomplishment of my life,” said Michael Saywitz
, as tears of emotion clouded his eyes.
Michael serves as the Chairman of the Board of JNF Palm Springs and Desert Region, but he came to Israel in a no less important role as Ryan’s grandfather. “I have visited Israel six times in the past, and each time I had a unique experience. Now I hope to transfer this deep connection to my grandson,” he said.
American Independence Park was established to mark the friendship between the people of Israel and the USA and also as an appreciation site for the friends and supporters
of JNF USA
. At the site, there are more than 5,000 plaques of appreciation for people, organizations and communities in the USA which support the implementation of many projects throughout Israel.
“As a representative of JNF USA, it is very impressive to see how much the organization has contributed to the country and made real changes in Israel,” Michael Saywitz said.
The renovation of the Donors Appreciation Center in the park was completed a few days before the visit, and the site looks new and inviting, with convenient walking trails, paths that are accessible for people with physical disabilities, and pleasant sitting corners. From all around there are views of the enchanting landscapes of the Judean hills and the forests
that were planted by KKL-JNF over the years.
“Since my childhood, I always felt that Israel was a part of my life, and it’s important for me to transfer that love to my grandchildren,” said Judy Saywitz
, Ryan’s grandmother.
The guests were greeted by KKL-JNF representative Avinoam Binder
, who explained: “Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees
today than it did one hundred years ago. KKL-JNF has planted 240,000,000 trees throughout Israel.”