(photo credit: KKL)
Members of the Japanese-based Makuya movement from both Japan and the United States visited the Carmel Forest on Monday, February 21, where they planted a symbolic tree and paid their respects to the people who were killed in the Carmel fire. The Makuya, Christians who are staunch supporters of Israel and the Jewish people, gave a substantial contribution to KKL-JNF for the Carmel rehabilitation campaign.
The group was greeted on the lawn of the Carmel Forests Spa Resort by KKL-JNF's Eran Zavadi, who graciously emceed the ceremony in the group's honor and spoke about the ties between the Makuya, Israel, the Carmel and KKL-JNF: "The Makuya are old friends of KKL-JNF and have supported us through good times and sad times. You have stood by our side when others turned their backs on us. On this beautiful green and pristine morning, it's hard to imagine the hell that broke lose here only two months ago, when Israel experienced the worst fire in its history.
"Mt. Carmel is one of the most beautiful and unique sites in Israel. In the Bible, the Carmel is a symbol of beauty, well-being and bounty. Throughout the world, there are towns and cities named Carmel, and many women are named Carmela, all based on the heritage of this lovely mountain. It was the home of the prophet Elijah, a man who always told the truth. He was not afraid to tell the people that they had acted badly and defied God's commandments. The citizens of Israel must also get to the truth of exactly what happened here and work on ways of preventing a recurrence in the future. The fire did not break out on its own, it was the result of negligence, and we must not spare ourselves from self-criticism.
"KKL-JNF is now in the midst of a major effort to rehabilitate the Carmel. With the help of its friends all over the world, the organization has embarked on a tremendous journey, the goal of which is to make this region green again. The Makuya are such friends. We are very appreciative of your contribution towards the restoration of the Carmel, a process that demands a great deal of patience. We look forward to the day when the Carmel will be green not only after the winter rains. We thank our partners all over the world, who walk hand-in-hand with us towards a better and greener future."
Mr. Yirmiyahu Kado, representative of the Makuya in Israel, showed the audience news clippings from the Israeli press that described the terrible fire, and told us a bit about the group's visit: "This group is the Makuya's 59th delegation to Israel. This morning, before we came here, we planted seventy trees near the KKL-JNF tree nursery at the Golani Junction, and yesterday, we planted trees at Ashalim in the Negev. On the way here today, we stopped at the turn on the narrow road where the bus went up in flames. Personally, I have already visited this spot twice, together with my wife. We placed flowers on the memorial and we prayed."
Mr. Nagahara Shin spoke on behalf of the Makuya: "I would like to take advantage of this occasion to tell you how honored and pleased we are to be here today. We heard about the Carmel tragedy while we were in the middle of planning this pilgrimage. We immediately called Jerusalem and asked how we could help. I am very grateful to KKL-JNF for giving us the opportunity to plant a symbolic tree here today. I was surprised and saddened to see the mountains covered by black ashes. We offer our deepest condolences to Israel for the people and the trees that were destroyed. We look forward to returning here and seeing the Carmel in its full beauty once again."
After Eran Zavadi read the Planter's Prayer, Mr. Nagahara planted a carob tree. "In the Jewish tradition," Eran explained, "the carob tree is a symbol of longevity and future generations. In fact, the carob tree is not just a symbol of longevity; it is longevity, because it lives long. I know you will pray for the tree's wellbeing in your hearts."
One of the people honored to plant the tree was John, a commercial airplane pilot from Anchorage, Alaska: "I'm originally from Ireland, and my wife is Japanese. I learned about the Makuya movement from her, and I identify with many of its principles. My work has taken me to many Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, but this is the first time I'm in Israel. We spent some time in the Negev desert, and all in all, I find Israel to be a very beautiful country. Seeing Israel for the first time, I am beginning to understand why God chose it to be His chosen country."
The Makuya are fervently identified with the cause of Israel, viewing the establishment of the State of Israel and the unification of Jerusalem as a fulfillment of biblical prophecies. “Makuya” is the Japanese equivalent for the Hebrew word mishkan, which refers to the children of Israel's portable shrine in the desert. This name was chosen to express the basic religious orientation of the Makuyas, who emphasize the significance of the personal encounter with the Divine Presence in everyday life. This experience, according to them, must not be substituted by a dogmatic belief in creeds, an idea symbolized by the image of the mishkan, the portable shrine. The Makuyas stress "a return to the dynamic faith of the original Gospel of early Hebraic Christianity."
Yirmiyahu Kado elaborated: "Our teacher, Professor Abraham (Ikuro) Teshima, of
blessed memory, taught us that the way to learn the Bible is to get to know the people of the Bible and the land of the Bible. It is very significant for us to be planting a tree in the land of Israel. We do not count people, so we don't know exactly how many Makuya there are all over the world, but I can tell you that our newsletter reaches 300,000 people monthly."
Professor Teshima's name was inscribed twice in KKL-JNF's Golden Book, once in September, 1967, in honor of his staunch support for Israel during the Six-Day War and once in January, 1974, honoring his passing.
After the moving ceremony, the members of the Makuya drove through the Carmel Forest, where thanks to the recent rains, wildflowers and patches of green can now be seen between the burnt trees and black ashes, a sign of hope for the Carmel's future.
For Articles, comments or use please contact
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493