(photo credit: KKL)
The Deputy Prime Minister of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Eckhard Uhlenberg and KKL-JNF World Chairman, Efi Stenzler, together unveiled a dedicatory plaque at the entrance recognition site of the German States Forest near Moshav Lehavim, named for North Rhine-Westphalia and its Prime Minister Dr. Juergen Ruettgers.
The boulevard of carob trees marks KKL-JNF's acknowledgement of the warm, friendly ties with the government of a significant state of the German Federation, through the extraordinary donation raised by KKL-JNF Düsseldorf Director, Paul Jurecky. KKL-JNF Resources & Development Division executive director, Avi Dickstein, escorted Echkard Uhlenberg, who serves as Minister for Environmental Quality in his government, together with the guests, to the site of the dedicatory center in the German States Forest where Uhlenberg was thrilled to read the names of his friends from Germany inscribed on the honor plaques.
Later, at the marquee erected to protect the guests from the bountiful rains, Paul Jurecky spoke. "When I was here several decades ago, all this was barren, dusty desert. One who had not seen it then would not believe so much has changed over the last 20 years - and all this because of the smaller and larger donations to make this desert bloom from thousands of people over these years. Today we are celebrating a boulevard of 60 trees to mark the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, a planting with deeply personal meaning for me because every root, trunk, branch and leaf symbolize the hope for peace and understanding. The words chiseled here in stone describing the German-Israel relationship as 'ties of friendship and devotion' express the ties between the citizens of Germany and Israel. I would like to thank the leaders of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and especially Prime Minister Urgen Rotgers for nurturing these ties and for their unstinting friendship."
Expressing his full agreement, Eckhard Uhlenberg added. "In my ministerial capacity, I have already planted many aisles and trees but a boulevard like this one, at Lehavim is quite different - firstly because it is not in my home country and secondly it has a different character. By planting this boulevard we are expressing our joy in the celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary. Who would have thought it possible that a German States Forest would be planted in Israel after all that happened during the Nazi period of rule? These tender saplings will grow into strong trees symbolizing the stability of our profound friendship and shared freedom."
Lehavim Council chairman Eli Levy said in appreciation. "We have been privileged today to experience one of the rare, lovelier days of the Negev and are delighted to host guests from Germany. Personally I feel that Germany is our best friend in the world."
KKL-JNF World Chairman, Efi Stenzler, recalled the visit over a year ago of the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Urgen Rotgers. "It wasn't hard then to persuade the visiting Prime Minister that this forest is actually located in the desert because it was one of the hottest days of the year when one could easily appreciate the difficulties of nurturing a forest here. One can seemingly see this forest as just trees but these breathtaking results of the German States Forest would not have been possible without the support of many Germans themselves. It should be remembered that behind each tree stands a person or group who deepen the friendship between North Rhine-Westphalia and KKL-JNF or between Germany and Israel. The tributary which flows from here into the Gerar stream is named after Avimelech, King of Gerar, who formed an alliance with our forefather Abraham, that Abraham marked by planting one tamarisk tree. You, our friends from Germany, planted an entire forest here. I am very happy about our friendship and hope you will consider yourselves not as guests but as family here.
After Deputy Prime Minister Uhlenberg read the Planters Prayer he and
Stenzler together planted an olive tree at the entrance to the
boulevard. "Grow beautifully," said Uhlenberg as he caressed the silver
leaves of the little sapling.
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