(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
A flourishing young almond tree has been added to the Japanese Garden situated between Moshav Shoresh and Neveh Ilan, overlooking Shaar HaGai. The tree was planted by the outgoing Chairman of the Japanese Christian Beit Shalom (“House of Peace”) organization, Takeo Sato, at the site this Israel-friendly movement has chosen as the commemorative center for its activities on Israel’s behalf.
Dozens of members of this Christian organization, which was founded after the Second World War by the late Father Takeji Otsuki, arrived in Israel to take part in this special ceremony of appreciation, whose Israeli guest of honor was the country’s fifth president, Yitzhak Navon. Other prominent Beit Shalom members from Israel also participated in the event.
In his address, Yitzhak Navon expressed his sincere affection for the Beit Shalom members and the path they follow:
“Ostensibly, when a distinguished person, a leader or a prophet departs this world, his thoughts die with him. But this is not the case with our prophets, nor with the Prophet Muhammad, with Moses our teacher or with Father Otsuki, whose spirit and teachings you all follow. Two years ago, we planted a tree here in memory of Father Otsuki, whom we all greatly admired, and today we are planting a tree in honor of Beit Shalom’s retiring Chairman, Takeo Sato. I should like to extend a special welcome to Takeo, who has honored us by coming here today. This tree symbolizes our profound esteem for our friend who has worked so hard to bring our two peoples together and strengthen the bond between Beit Shalom members in Japan and their faithful friends in Israel. This work continues all the time, modestly, yet devotedly.”
Takeo Sato expressed his thanks emotionally, in Hebrew: “I wasn’t expecting this, and I’m profoundly moved. At present, we are commemorating the eighth anniversary of Father Otsuki’s death, and are striving to follow in his footsteps. This is the end of my two terms of office as Chairman of Beit Shalom, but it is not the end of my love for Israel or my prayers for Jerusalem.”
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