A delegation of El Salvadorian Legislators
Plants Trees in Jerusalem
Recalling the important role El Salvador played in saving the lives of thousands of European Jews during the Holocaust, KKL-JNF Emissary to South America Michael Adari
gave a heartfelt welcome to a delegation of El Salvadorian legislators led by Ciro Cruz Zepeda Pen~a
, President of the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of El Salvador, to the VIP Tree Planting Center at the Kennedy Memorial on July 6.
“We owe a very important debt of gratitude to El Salvador,” Adari said. “The Jewish nation has a long memory and we see it as an obligation taken from the Bible to remember the good which has been done. El Salvador distinguished itself during the darkest period of Jewish History - the Holocaust - when thanks to the passports it issued to European Jews, thousands of Jewish lives were saved.”The eight-person strong El Salvadorian delegation, which included the legislators, their wives and El Salvador Ambassador to Israel Susana Hasenson
were on a three-day official visit to the State of Israel which came in the wake of the recent visit to the country by El Salvador President Mauricio Funes
Among those on the delegation were the Orthon Sigfrido Reyes Morales
, vice president of the Parliament, Dr. Donato Vaquerano
, head of the ARENA opposition political party and Luis Roberto Angulo
, coordinator of the opposition PCN, the oldest political party in El Salvador.
Prior to coming to the tree planting center the parliamentary delegation visited the nearby grave of Theodore Herzl where Zepeda Pen~a placed a memorial wreath on the tomb.
Adari recalled that several years ago he had attended a Holocaust Memorial Service in a forest dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust not far from the planting site together with Ambassador Hasenson. One of those who attended the service, said Adari, was a Jewish man who had survived the Holocaust thanks to one of the passports which had been issued by the El Salvadorian government.
Emphasizing also the strong ties between Israel and El Salvador Adari noted that Israel has never forgotten that El Salvador was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel when the Jewish State declared its independence in 1948. “This makes the ties connecting us very strong and very, very important,” he said.
On a more current note, Adari revealed to the delegation that he had just recently met with members of the El Salvadorian Diaspora and El Salvador Consul General Walter Duran
in Los Angeles at the behest of the El Salvadorian government which requested help from the KKL-JNF to create an organization similar to the KKL-JNF. The government would like to follow such a model to better organize and distribute donations coming in from the El Salvador Diaspora which are important to the country’s economy.
With the picturesque backdrop of the Jerusalem Forest behind him, Adari told the delegation that according to Jewish tradition the act of planting a tree is an affirmation of life. “In our Jewish tradition the act of planting a tree is to continue life through that act,” he said. “By planting this tree you will leave strong footsteps in this country. We invite you to return to Israel in a few years so that you can see how the tree has grown and strengthened, which we also wish upon this delegation.”Any Zaidenwerg
, of the KKL-JNF South American Desk, who conducted the ceremony, explained to the delegation that the many beautiful young and old trees they could gaze upon, not only at the planting center and the surrounding Jerusalem Forest but also throughout the country, had been planted by KKL-JNF with the help of its many supporters around the world. “With the planting of this tree you are joining an important tradition and a sort of ecological revolution which is to make the desert blossom.”
Speaking in the name of his colleagues, Zepeda Pen~a
expressed their happiness at being able to undertake such an important visit to Israel, which he characterized as a strong friend with whom El Salvador “totally identifies.”
“We feel very happy to have this unique experience of planting a tree in Israel because it is a very symbolic act not only for Israel but for all human beings, since we will be planting something which will contribute to the improvement of life on our planet and especially in this region which is so important for the whole world and for all religions,” he said.
He noted that Catholics around the world would like to have the privilege to visit the holy and sacred places which they so revere in Israel.
Following the reading of the Planter’s Prayer by Zepeda Pen~a’s wife,
Ileana Margarita Lopez de Zepeda
, the delegation members took to heart
Zaidenwerg’s invitation “to roll up their sleeves and get their hands
dirty” and removed their suit jackets, rolled up their sleeves and
prepared to plant the carob tree sapling.
Several dozen trees including fig, pomegranate, oak, cedar, olive and
carob trees have been planted by visiting dignitaries and personalities
at the tree planting center since its inauguration some three years
ago. Visibly enjoying the physical contact with tree, earth and water
the men worked together to plant and water the young sapling.
At the conclusion of the planting ceremony, Adari presented Zepeda
Pen~a with a specially framed certificate of appreciation. Zepeda Pen~a
expressed interest in the purpose of the plastic tubing placed around
some of the saplings and Adari explained how the plastic is used to
protect the young trees from being injured by small animals as well as
a way of gathering the optimum amount of dew and channeling it directly
to the tree’s roots.
“What better way to leave such important footsteps in this land,” said Zepeda Pen~a.
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