Mississippi Governor plants a tree in Israel.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
“Standing here alongside the Kennedy Memorial in Jerusalem I feel compelled to repeat the words said by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to our President Barak Obama at their meeting in the White House just a few hours ago. He said that the relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted in shared values, is buttressed by shared interests and is driven forward by a sense of shared destiny.
“It is my honor along with the First Lady Deborah Hays Bryant to be part of this occasion.”
These were the words of Phil Bryant, Governor of the US State of Mississippi who braved early morning rain and fog to attend the tree planting ceremony on Tuesday, November 10 at the Kennedy Memorial site just outside the capital.
Governor Bryant arrived in Israel just a few days after winning his second term in office, accompanied by what he called “the largest delegation” that he has ever taken abroad.
KKL- JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson welcomed the visitors and apologized for the inclement weather. He explained that as an observant Jew he prays daily for rain, but today, he said, he hoped that it would remain dry. Mr. Michelson told the guests that the tradition is to plant a carob tree, which takes years to produce fruit, and therefore symbolizes preparing for the future.
He also revealed that Israel is the only country on the planet which had more trees at the end of the twentieth century than at the start. This is thanks to KKL-JNF, which has planted over 240 million trees since its establishment in 1901.
To emphasize the importance of trees in Jewish culture, Mr. Michelson noted that the Jewish sages instructed that if one is about to plant a tree and the Messiah suddenly arrives, the planter must first complete the planting before greeting the Messiah.
Member of the KKL-JNF World Executive Barbara Goldstein addressed the Mississippi delegation, saying that “the bond between Israel and the United States of America will never be broken” and that “since 1654, America has always been a sanctuary for Jews who were forced to wander the world”.
Ms. Goldstein told the Mississippi Governor that planting a tree in Israel is a sacred act because “the Lord instructed the children of Israel to plant trees when entering the land”.
Governor Bryant responded by saying that it is a particular honor for him to be at the Kennedy Memorial in Jerusalem, remembering one of the great presidents of the United States. He said that he is planting a tree dedicated to Israel, but also to the United States, and particularly to the state of Mississippi where trees are planted not only for economic reasons but also for the beauty that they add.
The Governor and his wife First Lady Deborah Hays Bryant were presented with Tree Planting Certificates by Barbara Goldstein
The ceremony ended with Governor Bryant reading the Planter's Prayer in English, and Barbara Goldstein reciting the prayer in Hebrew.
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