Israel Turns 70

Israel Turns 70
117 of KKL-JNF, 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel and the fulfilment of a 2,000 year-old dream. Ever since ithe dream's realization, with the support of its Friends and partners worldwide, KKL-JNF has been working hand in hand with the State of Israel, identifying national tasks and acting to fulfill them.
Please note: The story of Israel and KKL-JNF is rich with details, which helped form the tapestry of the State of Israel. We will be adding more interesting facts on Israel's establishment and KKL-JNF all the time - be sure to keep checking this page for new reading material!
A little blue box inspires a people
  • 1901 - KKL-JNF is established: On December 29, 1901, (19 Tevet 5638), delegates from around Europe at the Fifth Zionist Congress voted to establish a fund to redeem lands in Eretz Yisrael. After the votes were tallied, Theodor Herzl proclaimed: "The Jewish National Fund has been created."
  • 1901 - KKL-JNF recieves its first donation: Straight after the vote, Yona Kerementzky, who would become the Fund's first chairman, pledged £10. Theodor Herzl followed suit. One by one, delegates rushed to the dais to pledge their donations, even those who had voted against establishing the Fund. These contributions were to be inscribed on the first page of the first volume of the Fund's Golden Book.
  • 1902 - The Zion Stamp: Another fundraising initiative was the Zion Stamp. First produced in Vienna 1902 with a Star of David and the world ‘Zion’ on the foreground, it was distributed in over seventeen countries and represented the smallest currency units. Over the decades and ending in 2000, the Fund issued some 500 different series of stamps, featuring distinguished figures, different landscapes in various regions of the Land of Israel, historical sites and important Fund projects.
a country grows from sand and rocks
  • 1904 - First registered land purchase: Three years after the Fund was established to redeem the soil of Erez Israel, it registered the lands of Kfar Hittim in Lower Galilee as its first land purchase.
  • 1906 - First Hebrew city: That year, the Fund made loans totaling 250 thousand francs to build the Ahuzat Bayit quarter outside of Jaffa, the nucleus around which the first Hebrew city of Tel Aviv was to rise. Sixty out of the first 66 inhabitants of Tel Aviv built their homes with the help of KKL-JNF.
  • 1909 - First Kibbutz: On the lands of Umm Juni, which were purchased by KKL-JNF, a small kvutza – the forerunner of kibbutz – was created: Deganiya soon earned the title of "Mother of Kvutzot."
  • 1910 - First Hebrew high-school: Following the decision of the Zionist Congress to found a high school in Jaffa, KKL–JNF contributed a tract of land on Ahad Haam St. Tel Aviv for the Gymnasia Herzliya high school, built in 1910.
One forest becomes 240 million trees
  • 1912 - First forest: KKL-JNF's first forest is planted at Hulda in honor Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist Movement. The idea was conceived by KKL-JNF in 1908, and after a failed attempt at planting an olive grove, which was unsuited to the soils of Hulda, KKL-JNF planted a forest of pines in 1912. Herzl Forest is today encompassed in the much larger Hulda Forest, which contains a wide variety of trees.
  • 1948 - First tree planted after announcement of British departure: Tree of the State, a cypress planted at Kibbutz Degania on January 26, 1948. This was the first tree planted after the announcement and adoption by the UN of the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947.
  • 1950 - Planting of Martyrs Forest: Planters, among them survivors, plant six million trees in Martyrs Forest to remember the 6 million Jews on the road to Jerusalem.
  • 1960 - Afforestation of the Gilboa and the desert region
What about water?
  • 1936 - Laying water pipelines and water towers: From 1936 to 1939, 57 Tower and Stockade settlements were established around Israel on KKL-JNF land. Thanks to water towers and pipelines that were laid, they were able to survive.
  • 1987 - Reservoirs for water storage: After several years of drought, KKL-JNF Chairman Moshe Rivlin sets aside a large budget for water conservation and storage projects through building dams and digging water reservoirs. In 1987, the Hadassah-Eshet dam, one of the first, was constructed at Nahal Hayun in the Arava, mainly to collect rainwaters to enrich the aquifer as millions of cubic meters of floodwaters flow down from the Negev Plateau. By the early nineties, 100 reservoirs were being planned and built. 1993 was officially known as ‘reservoirs year’ due to the sheer amount of water storage facilities built around Israel.
  • 1990 - Action to rehabilitate the country’s polluted rivers and waterways: In the early 1990’s, KKL-JNF and the Ministry of the Environment established the River Rehabilitation Administration, with the aim of removing damaging pollutants from coastal rivers and restoring them to their natural state. Examples of rivers that have been cleaned up with the support of Friends of KKL-JNF worldwide include Nahal Alexander in the Hefer Valley; Nahal Lakhish near Ashdod, segments of the Yarkon River in central Israel, and the Kishon River near Haifa.
one small bench in the woods becomes a culture
  • 1972 - First picnic table in KKL-JNF forests: The first bench was installed in 1972 at Menashe Forest near Kibbutz Hazore'a, as part of the organization’s bid to open its forests up to the public. This was just the start of the many benches, picnic tables and facilities available in KKL-JNF’s forest, serving as invitations to the visitor.
  • 1970’s - KKL-JNF makes its forests available to the public: Trails were fixed and marked amid the trees. As access improved, thousands of Israelis began to flock to forests and parks on weekends and holidays. This ingress into forests changed Israel's leisure culture. To acquaint the public with the sites, KKL-JNF's Information Department invited organizations and institutions on trips to forests.
  • 1980’s - KKL-JNF helps excavate archaeological sites: Excavated and preserved in this period were Beit She'an, an ancient Roman city was unearthed; at Zippori, Beit Govrin, and Maresha, important historical remains were discovered and incorporated into expansive public parks.
A tradition of innovation
  • 1912 - First attempts at mixed agriculture: In 1912, KKL-JNF founded an experimental farm at Ben Shemen, where the first attempts at mixed agriculture were conducted.
  • 1943 - First Negev outpost (experimental station): The first outpost, Gvulot, was established in the western Negev in May of 1943, followed by Beit Eshel and Revivim. KKL-JNF built dirt access roads to the outposts, where agricultural research was conducted by both the pioneers and experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot.
  • 1985 - Perspectives on forestry change: UN declares the Year of Forests and KKL-JNF marks its 80th afforestation anniversary. The Year of Forests, with its focus on the forests’ ecological needs, was the start of modern forestry in Israel. That year, KKL-JNF carried out countless research on local forests through its Ecology Fund.
  • 1996 - Undertaking to support agricultural research institutes: KKL-JNF supports R&D stations in the Negev, the Arava and the Galilee, which help find solutions for agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions with no water. This is in line with KKL-JNF's commitment to advancing Israel's outlying regions.
Nurturing our children, our future
  • 1926 - Youth Section established in Jerusalem to educate Diaspora youth movements: Early Hebrew poet Haim Nachman Bialik said "the idea of land redemption must become the symbol of our national rebirth." The Youth Section took this to heart, and to this end, a Blue Box was put in every classroom for the purposes of educating and inspiring. The schools also revived agricultural festivals: bringing in the Omer - the wheat - and first fruits of spring (Shavuot); the harvest holiday in autumn (Succot) and, of course, Tu Bishvat, "the new year of the trees," which became a tree planting holiday. To help it in its work, the Youth Section recruited illustrators, writers, and poets to create books, songs and stories about the love of the land and the cultivation of the soil.
  • 1926 - First Hebrew song written for KKL-JNF: The Youth Section, among many other educational activities, commissioned songs on Eretz Yisrael –the first song written for KKL-JNF and published with its assistance was Shirat HaEmek (song of the Jezreel Valley) - composed by Yoel Engel, Yishuv’s leading musician, and written by Yehuda Karni. This song appeared in every KKL-JNF song book.
  • 1927 - First Zionist teachers movement: In 1927 teachers convened at the Children's Village on the slopes of Givat Hamoreh in the Jezreel Valley to establish the Teachers Council for KKL-JNF, based on their earlier successful work of the Youth Section. Baruch Ben Yehuda, principal of the Gymnasia Herzliya high school, was the chairman of the new educational council; a few years later, it changed its name to the Teachers Movement for KKL-JNF.