(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
"When I decided to coach the team, I thought this was just about sports. Now that I've been here for a week, as far as I'm concerned, the medal has already been won," said Canadian junior soccer team coach Samuel Medeiros, at KKL-JNF's Nachshon Forest Tree Planting Center in Israel's central region. On Wednesday July 17, Samuel was with a group of 250 young Canadian athletes who are participating in the Maccabiah Games taking place in Israel. "If you believe in religion," Samuel went on to say, "you realize that it's not just about believing, it's about feeling religion. I'm not Jewish, but I am religious and I can feel the higher power here in Israel. This is my first time here, and I love every moment."
At the ceremony, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson said that although planting a tree is a relatively simple act, "it's very important in our tradition. In the future, the trees that you are planting today will look like the forest you see around us. The Maccabiah Games, which we co-sponsor, is one of the many ways that KKL-JNF serves as a bridge between the Diaspora and Israel. I wish you all good luck, and hope that when you plant your trees here today, it will be the beginning of a love affair between you and Israel."
Nachshon Forest spreads out over an area where there are agricultural fields in the valleys. Trees are planted on the rocky hills surrounding the fields. The KKL-JNF Tree Planting Center is operational all year long, and both conifers and also broad-leafed trees are planted here. During the hot summer months, the new saplings are watered to enable them to survive until Israel's rainy season begins.
Sarah Bergman (19), from Montreal, is also on the basketball team. "We were in Masada, where I had a Bat Mitzvah, together with some of the other girls. Planting a tree is great, I really love the idea. This is my first time in Israel, and I can already say that I'm definitely coming back."
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