Summer Lovin’ in the Time of Corona, in KKL-JNF Forests: 2021 Roundup

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

A sampling of awesome events held by KKL-JNF in its forests, cheering up the public after a hard year and a particularly challenging summer.

KKL-JNF has been organizing popular and diverse summer activities for years, but the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 meant that the summer of 2021 could not be taken for granted. KKL-JNF opened up its forests and parks to the general public, providing many varied and colorful summertime activities in a safe outdoor atmosphere where all government health regulations were scrupulously upheld.
In honor of the organization's 120th anniversary, KKL-JNF organized night adventures dubbed “The Enchanted Forest”, in Ben Shemen Forest in Israel's central region, complete with exhibits, videos, and special lighting and sound that told the story of how KKL-JNF has developed and evolved over the past 120 years as Israel's largest and most influential green organization.
The summer festival of Tu B'Av is known in Israel as the "holiday of love", and in honor of this special day, KKL-JNF invited the general public to forest sites in Israel's northern, central and southern regions, where the full moon was celebrated with song, dance, stories and a special lover's cocktail. In addition, a photography exhibit based on pictures from KKL-JNF's photo archive could also be viewed, featuring pictures of loving couples from different eras, including early Zionist pioneers in the Hula Valley, a wedding of Holocaust survivors in Kibbutz Hanita, and much more.
At Ayalon-Canada Park and British Park in the Judean lowlands, visitors participated in professional drawing workshops after a hike through the park, enjoying the open air.
In the south, there was an impressive happening at the Mirsham Farm complex, including music, a juggling performance, arts and crafts and archaeological remains.
Nighttime was the right time for lantern-lit outings for families that began at twilight. At 12 different sites from the north to the south, families walked on forest paths, learned about the forest nightlife, and listened to riveting stories and anecdotes about the forests. And at Beersheva River Park (Park Nahal Beersheva), the children even made their lanterns themselves!
Some of the summer events were a combination of walking and singing, for example, the hike on the Escape Trail (Shvil HaBricha) in Hof HaCarmel Forest. Participants walked through the heart of the forest and heard the story of the "Escape Movement" – the Zionist organization that was responsible for smuggling in Holocaust survivors from Europe to Israel in the face of harsh British restrictions on Jewish immigration, and concluded the evening with a singalong.
And at Ilanot Forest, a forest unlike any other in Israel, where 350 different types of trees grow next to each other, visitors experienced the story of these special trees through storytelling and song.
Events at the Upper Galilee Regional Council included musical performances, hikes, a show for children, and the inauguration of a new 29 km. long bicycle single at the Baal Shem Tov Forest that traverses magnificent scenery.
In the city of Arad in the south, some 1,500 people participated in an environmental  festival, the theme being ancient arts. Activities included handicrafts, sculpting, and drumming workshops, along with performances for the entire family.
Hundreds of people celebrated the 110th birthday of Israeli poetess and author Leah Goldberg at KKL-JNF events around Israel: Blue Valley Park near Tzfat in the north, Ben Shemen Forest in the central region, and Hamalachim Forest in the south.
Continuing on to butterflies – at the Hula Lake Park in the north, visitors learned about the life and times of butterflies through tours, plays, a special butterfly-making kit, and even had butterflies painted on their faces!
Back to the south, a happening at Lahav Forest included performances, actors, workshops and learning about the history of KKL-JNF and Zionism, while another happening at Mitzpe Gevulot offered crafts workshops, baking bread at the Negev's first bakery, and a colorful fair where local produce was sold.
Besides the events for the general public, there were also special events, including a climate change conference led by the Chief KKL-JNF Scientist and a joint event sponsored by KKL-JNF and the Na'amat Women's Organization, where over 1,000 women from all over Israel celebrated KKL-JNF’s 120th birthday and Na’amat’s 100th birthday, and above all, celebrated being in the forest through song and dance.
After such a summer, one can only wonder what KKL-JNF has in store for the upcoming fall and winter…