A Young Boy Paints the Carmel Green

What makes an eight-year-old boy in Chicago get up one day and decide to plant a grove on the Carmel in memory of his grandfather?

January 17, 2012 15:40
3 minute read.

KKL_170112_D. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)


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What makes an eight-year-old boy in Chicago get up one day and decide to plant a grove on the Carmel in memory of his grandfather? Thanks to the extraordinary initiative of Erel Amit, who collected donations from his friends and teachers at the Solomon Schechter School, and the support of his family, KKL JNF will be planting a grove on the Carmel in memory of the late Uri Amit, former Mayor of Ramat Gan. The grove will be planted once the earth of the Carmel forest has properly recovered from the fire.

“We were thinking of how to make me a special birthday party,” said Erel, “and the idea came up that instead of presents, we would ask that all the guests help us plant trees on the Carmel in memory of Saba.”

So the Amit family sent a notice to all their guests about the original initiative, and they were surprised by how enthusiastic the responses were. “All my friends and their parents, even the teachers in school, contributed gladly,” said Erel.

A modest family ceremony followed, on January 9, 2012, in American Independence Park, when the Amits visited Israel. The park, which is in the Judean Hills, was developed by KKL JNF in appreciation of the American people, whose generosity deepens the friendship between the two nations, and also as an appreciation site for friends of KKL JNF in the USA, whose contributions have helped KKL JNF carry out numerous projects all over Israel for the benefit of people and the environment.

A few days before the ceremony, the Amit family had visited the Carmel. “When I saw how much damage was done to the burnt forest, I understood how important it was for us to make it green again,” said Erel.

His father, Savyon Amit, said, “It’s very important to me to see that the children are also staying connected to Israel. When we come to Israel in the future, we won’t be travelling to a foreign country. We’ll be coming home.”

Uri Amit, Erel’s grandfather, went to school in Kibbutz Yagur after immigrating to Israel from Iraq, so the Carmel was a very significant part of the landscapes ofKKL his youth. “I once asked Uri what period of his life was the happiest,” said his niece Osnat Raz, “and he said there was no one happier than he was, when he worked in the fields of the kibbutz, especially when they let him drive a tractor. I have no doubt that he would have been very proud of Erel and very pleased by the idea of planting a grove on the Carmel.”

Liat Itzhak of KKL JNF's American Desk, who accompanied the family, thanked them warmly and said that trees symbolize life. “There is no better memorial than combining remembrance and life,” she said. Liat welcomed the Amits to the KKL-JNF family, and she presented Erel a special gift; an aerial photo of the State of Israel.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Amit family drove to Aminadav Forest, where they planted trees and experienced a physical connection to the land of Israel.

Ela, Erel's little sister, got to plant a tree she shares a name with - the Ela Eretzyisraelit, or the Pistacia Palestina, which is famous for its vivid pink flowers. Little Ela was very excited about the planting experience, and danced around the planting site, dressed, incidentally, in her much beloved color: pink.

When little Erel was born eight years ago, the Tel Aviv Municipality planted a tree in his honor, as they do for every child born in the city. Erel has now completed the circle by planting an entire grove in the country of his birth, as a birthday gift from him to Israel.

For Articles, comments or use please contact
Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
Email: ahuvab@kkl.org.il
Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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