Between Tiberius and JerusalemAndreas Pritzker
Friends of KKL-JNF Switzerland Visit Israel
, a resident of the town of Brugg, which is located between Basel and Zurich, didn't need to be encouraged during his recent visit to Israel. Pritzker is full of joy and humor, playing with one of the sheep sculptures recently installed in the Se'adim Recreation Area in Aminadav Forest near Jerusalem: "The more I come to Israel, the more I realize how vital KKL-JNF is for Israel, for its development and its quality of life. I first came to Israel as a student in 1968 to specialize in physics at the Hebrew University. We toured Israel a lot as guests of the Israeli Students Association. Today, a few decades later, I am amazed each time anew to see how fast Israel is developing, both in terms of urban development and also in terms of nature and the landscape."
Pritzker, a friend of KKL-JNF Switzerland, already visited Israel a number of times. This time, he was part of a diverse group of a few dozen friends of KKL-JNF, who arrived for a week of tours and visits to various projects being carried out in Israel with the help of contributions of the Swiss community. This is a mixed group of Jews and Christians, most of them Swiss citizens, but also including four German citizens and two Austrians. They arrived in Israel before the air flight crisis that happened as a result of the volcanic ash from Iceland.
Missing from this year's mission was KKL-JNF Switzerland General Manager, Jariv Sultan
, who was stuck without a flight, after having participated in a special event marking the 150th birthday of Israel's founding father, Dr. Theodore Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl. The ceremony took place in Basel with the participation of KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Executive Director of KKL-JNF Resources and Development Division, Avi Dickstein.
The mission's visit began in the Jordan Valley, which they toured on bicycles from Tiberius to the "Yardenit" baptism site. Afterwards, in Swiss Forest that overlooks Tiberius and the Kinneret, they participated in a festive ceremony to dedicate the Bern Forest, which was named for the capitol of Switzerland. The ceremony, with the participation of the mayor of Tiberius, Mr. Zohar Ovad, was conducted by the former rabbi of the Bern Jewish community, Rabbi Marcel Marcus. An honorary guest at the ceremony was the president of KKL-JNF Bern, Mr. Ralph Eli and his wife Muriel
. The mission concluded its busy day at the Hula Lake Park, towards whose development and care a noteworthy contribution was made by friends of KKL-JNF in Switzerland.
The members of the mission spent their second day on a tour that began at Kibbutz Malkia and the security roads paved by KKL-JNF on the Lebanese border, after which they went to Kfar Nahum. They spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, going for walks or visiting and praying at the Western Wall. On Sunday, before going to the tree planting ceremony in Aminadav Forest, the members of the mission visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, where they had a very moving conversation with a Holocaust survivor. The mission spent Israel Remembrance Day visiting various KKL-JNF projects supported by the Swiss in the Negev, and they participated in the Remembrance Day ceremony at KKL-JNF's Gilat Nursery in the south.
The tree planting ceremony in the Aminadav Forest was friendly and
informal. After reading the Planter's Prayer together, the mission went
to plant terebinth trees in the "bald spots" of the conifer forest that
is undergoing a process of renewal and diversification. At the end of
the ceremony, Ulrich Hartmann
one of the most active people in the community of friends of KKL-JNF
Switzerland, told us how the urge to plant a forest grove in Israel
came up: "I visited a gardening fair that took place in the city of
Basel, which was the first place I heard about KKL-JNF activities in
Israel. In 1980, I joined a group that visited Israel to realize what I
had always dreamed about: we went to plant a forest grove in the Carmel
Mountains. As a result of that experience, we went back to the KKL-JNF
offices in Switzerland with a large amount of contributions. There was
no one in that group who didn't contribute."
Since that experience, Mr. Hartmann has been one of KKL-JNF's loyal
friends, all of whom have adopted projects in Israel and are proud of
them. The forest grove in the Carmel was just the beginning. It was
followed by the idea of Switzerland Forest, which covers the ridge
between Tiberius and Poriya, and then by a coexistence tree planting
project in Nahal Iron. The list of projects that Ulrich Hartmann and
his friends are involved in is long and includes building KKL-JNF
information stations in Beersheva and Ramat Hanegev, along with river
restoration projects and building reservoirs, the last of which was
built in the Bedouin city of Rahat.
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