On Sunday, March 25, schoolchildren from the Arnon School of Ramat Gan arrived at the Aminadav Forest near Jerusalem to plant trees that were donated by the children of an elementary school in Palermo, Italy. Rafi Ovadia, KKL-JNF emissary to Italy, explained how this joint project came about: "Every year, the school in Palermo publishes a calendar with pictures drawn by the schoolchildren. This year, they decided that the theme would be the environment, so they got in touch with the Israeli embassy in Italy and asked if they could recommend some project. The embassy referred them to KKL-JNF, and we had the idea of jointly creating a calendar with drawings of children from both schools that would be related to environmental protection. The kids in Italy were so moved by this project that they decided to donate money for planting trees in Israel. Since the schoolchildren from the Arnon School have been working together with the Italian children, it seemed only natural that they should plant the trees here on their behalf."
Gili Amit, fifth grade homeroom teacher, told us about the group: "This is a group of 53 fifth graders from the Arnon School in Ramat Gan. We place a great deal of emphasis on ecological studies during the school year, so this joint project with the children from Italy was really right up our alley."
Rafi Ovadia told the schoolchildren about Italy's Jewish community: "There are only about 30,000 Jews in Italy, but they are very strong supporters of Israel and they express their love by contributing towards projects that KKL-JNF carries out in Israel. They know that the state of Israel has to be strong and secure, and that it is the home of the entire Jewish people. In addition, there are a lot of non-Jews who love Israel, support her and visit the country as pilgrims. They are aware that Israel is an island of freedom and democracy in the Middle East."
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