German City Inaugurates Landau Forest in the Negev.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On every Saturday for the past 10 years, German pastor Gerhard Heinzmann packed his car with a folding table, KKL-JNF and Israeli flags, and pamphlets, and set out for the local market in Landau to ask for donations for trees
, in order to plant a KKL-JNF forest
in Israel. It was not always easy, and he often had to suffer insults and name-calling from passersby who were not happy to see the Israeli flag.
But he would not be deterred.
When he reached 1,000 trees, he was told they could plant a grove on behalf of the city. But, as he told donors who had joined him on a trip to Israel to attend the inauguration of the Landau Forest on Oct. 30, he wanted to go the whole way and decided to continue his efforts until he reached his goal of 5,000 trees.
“I have dreamed about this for many years, but I didn’t think it would actually come true,” Heinzmann said at the inauguration ceremony held at the German States Forest Visitor's Center in the Negev. “I am glad my wife is here to support me and that we are all here together to celebrate this moment.”
Heinzmann first came up with the idea of a forest from the City of Landau after coming to Israel in 1967 and visiting Yad Vashem. There, he saw photographs of destroyed synagogues, including in Landau.
“I couldn’t stop seeing that horrible image and since then I have wanted to see the name of Landau representing something good in Israel, not something bad,” he said. “Now we have seen how Germans can unite to collect money to plant trees in Israel. We have to show history that in Landau there are people who care. We can’t change the past, but we can look forward to the future together.”
Among those who came from Landau for the occasion were Landau mayor Thomas Hirsch and several city council members. In addition to their visit to the Negev with KKL-JNF, the group is also scheduled to visit Tel Aviv and holy sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Galilee during their ten day stay.
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