From Copenhagen to the Casuarina Circle at Ilanot.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
A short time after landing at Ben Gurion Airport, members of the Go Green delegation from KKL Denmark visited the Ilanot Botanical Garden in the Sharon region. This destination was not selected at random. Thanks to an exceptionally generous donation of funds raised by the KKL Denmark office, KKL-JNF can now transform the old library building in Ilanot Forest into a well equipped visitors’ center – the first of its kind in Israel – that will provide information on trees and forestry. During their time at the forest the delegates also visited the Casuarina Circle that will be dedicated to the memory of Dan Uzan, who was murdered in a terrorist attack in Copenhagen in 2015.
The afternoon hours of September 20th were extremely pleasant. The group members convened in a recreation area in the shade of the trees, and after some post-flight cooling drinks and light refreshments they listened to a talk by Liri Eitan Drai, Director of KKL-JNF’s Scandinavian Desk, about the history of Ilanot Forest
and KKL-JNF’s role in it.
Yehiel Cohen, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF’s Central Region, accompanied the visitors to the building that will house the visitors’ center. Amid electric cables, planks and wooden beams he deployed plans, consulted his tablet computer and explained how the site would operate: “The center will provide information by the most sophisticated means available today,” he said. “Visitors will receive information about forests in Israel and abroad and about tree biology and ecology, all communicated in the form of a unique and memorable experience.”
For example, visitors will be able to ride a form of stationary bicycle while wearing special glasses that will reveal to them, as they pedal along, a virtual route above the treetops and images of the various animals that live in the forest. Focusing directly on any of these images will conjure up information about it. There will also be a multimedia display, trivia quizzes on touchscreens, and more. If everything proceeds as planned, the center should begin to operate in mid-2017.
The second reason for the delegates’ presence at Ilanot was their desire to visit the memorial to Dan Uzan, who was murdered at the age of 37 in a terrorist attack in Copenhagen on February 14th, 2015. The delegation made its way through the well-tended garden to the twenty-five or so casuarina trees someone was inspired to plant in a circle decades ago. Standing inside the embrace of these tall trees, which leave room for only a small patch of sky, gives one the feeling of being under a mild enchantment.
The Casuarina Circle was the site chosen for the memorial to Dan Uzan. “I was there when it happened,” said Eva Blum. “It was after midnight, at the cultural center where we’d been celebrating a bat mitzvah. Two policemen were standing outside. Dan was on guard there, too, but civilian guards aren’t allowed to carry weapons in Denmark. The terrorist had planned to take us hostage, but Dan confronted him and barred the way with his body. The terrorist shot and killed him on the spot. Now that the plot was revealed, the terrorist shot at the police who approached him, then fled. Dan Uzan saved my life and the lives of everyone else who was there. The whole community knew and loved him, and we all owe him a huge debt.”
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KKL-JNF – Information and Internet Department