World Environment Day now an annual tradition takes place every June. In Israel too, Green organizations are joining the worldwide focus on the environment. World Environment Day is an international event supported by the United Nations to raise awareness of environmental issues and to encourage political-environmental action.
In Israel, KKL-JNF joined local Green organizations in marking the day, emphasizing educational events for both children within local schools and also for adults. In the North, the Technion arranged a "Green Day" in cooperation with other Green organizations, including KKL-JNF, with activities connected to environmental quality, culminating in 150 new members joining the KKL-JNF Friends Club in Israel. Technion staff cleaned up the groves nearby, when KKL-JNF, in response to their request, provided working gloves and garbage sacks.
In Tel-Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood, over 150 children from Rokach School and youth centers, enjoyed KKL-JNF's "educational caravan," splitting up between five stations to study the geography of the land, run between points of a giant map of Israel and learn about saplings, forestry, rivers, water infrastructure, fire prevention, recycling and preservation of the environment.
In the South, World Environment Day activities, with KKL-JNF cooperation with Intel, focused on schools in Kiryat Malachi, northern Negev town, whose inhabitants were warm and welcoming.
Ahvat Ahim elementary school is part of KKL-JNF's Maof program in the south. KKL-JNF is very committed to Kiryat Malachi. There is a large immigrant population there and it is our job to familiarize the people with the history and environment of the Land of Israel - starting with the schoolchildren. KKL-JNF recently dedicated a promenade and beautiful urban park in Kiryat Malachi, thanks to contributions from JNF America.
The fruits of the Maof program in Kiryat Malachi, supported by JNF Canada, are evident everywhere. As Clara Levi, a schoolteacher, explained: "At our school, it's not just on World Environment Day that we learn about and care for the environment. For example, we recently had an energy conservation competition, in which the different classes had to figure out how to save energy and natural resources, for example by making sure water faucets are never left running or switching off air conditioners and lights, and we can proudly say that they have internalized this value."
After cleaning up the schoolyard, the children fanned out into the neighborhood with their green sacks. Ofra Yisahaya, the school principal: "Two of our homerooms finished in the top twenty of a national schools competition for projects related to environment. One classroom dealt with sanitation, waste disposal and recycling, while the other winning classroom worked on a project called "our backyard," in which they actually worked with local apartment buildings in encouraging them to take responsibility for their grounds. We were even awarded an Environmental Cup - of which the children are very proud."
The Mayor of Kiryat Malachi, Motti Malka:
"KKL-JNF has improved Kiryat Malachi's public spaces by building a promenade, green corners and of course the urban park. In addition, KKL-JNF's involvement in education is most meaningful to me. What KKL-JNF imparts to the children by means of the Maof program reminds us, the adults, of values we learned as children."
The Ahvat Ahim and Eli Cohen schools were holding special KKL-JNF Blue Box exhibitions, displaying blue boxes innovatively redesigned by the schoolchildren - sometimes together with their parents. The Eli Cohen School is across the street from the urban park - which used to be a junkyard and public hazard.
The principal, Aliza Shani, described how KKL-JNF was part of the school's daily curriculum: "We have a regular KKL-JNF corner and study about KKL-JNF's role in the history of Zionism, love of the land and its natural landscape. The KKL-JNF 'educational caravan' initiates games for parents and children that enable awareness of these values. KKL-JNF even helped us create a "Seven Species of Israel" garden in our schoolyard - not to mention planting trees on Tu Bishvat, which we do every year. Our shared goal is to get the local population to make these values their own."
In the schoolyard corner where they had just begun planting the Seven Species garden, we received a parting message from ten-year old Pasicca: "What I learned in school was that the ones responsible for making our world clean are the children, because if we don't do it, who will?"