Olive Tree Forest KKL.
(photo credit: )
In the heart of the young communal town of Meitar, north of the capital of the Negev, Beersheba, KKL-JNF has established a central park, which serves as a green lung for the community and its surroundings. Meitar was established in 1984. Back then, all one could see here was sand, stones and a few lone bushes in the desert wilderness. Currently, some 1,500 families live in the town.
The mission from Germany arrived to the Olive Tree Park dedication on one of the only three days of the year in which it rained in this desert area. Gray clouds hung in the sky and the rain came heavily down - almost like in Germany.
Waiting in the community's sports center for the mission were members of KKL-JNF, the head of the local council, a representative of the Water Authority and children from two classes, whose faces were concealed beneath the green KKL-JNF hats they wore. Following a musical introduction that was provided by the children, who sang and played the recorder, began the ceremony in honor of the delegation from Germany, whose contributions helped KKL-JNF establish the Meitar Olive Tree Park.
The delegation arrived in Israel for a ten-day tour that was organized by Reuven Barak, KKL-JNF emissary to Germany. In the course of the tour the delegation made its way from Nes Amim, which is near Nahariya, through the Galilee, the Golan Heights, the Kinneret, Haifa and Jerusalem, all the way to the sports center in Meitar. Here they were received by Jana Marcus from KKL-JNF European Desk. The local residents and KKL-JNF thanked the donors warmly for their initiative and their solidarity with Israel.
The head of the local council, Avner Ben Gara, cited the importance of the contribution to the community and the area. "The park constitutes not only a destination for local recreation in the heart of the community, but also serves educational and social purposes. The olives are picked by the community's children. They are pressed, and the olive oil that is gleaned from them is sold. The revenues are earmarked for social purposes."
Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of KKL-JNF Resources and Development Division, underscored in his speech the special connection between Israel and Germany. "For the past 106 years, the KKL-JNF has been operating to develop the Land of Israel and its communities. Contributions in the past from Germany have helped realize numerous projects throughout the Land of Israel. But great and important work still awaits us because the Israel's existence and peace are tied to the water sources. The global crisis is principally an ecological crisis, a crisis of water."
The desire to contribute to peace in Israel and to the quality of its residents' lives manifested itself in the statements that were made by Mr. Stephan Gukeritz, who with the assistance of his wife, Sylvia, made his way to the podium. His statements reflected the caring and love he felt for Israel.
The young and talented pianist, Stepha Tschalamoff, who donated the gifts she received for her fifteenth birthday, which was celebrated in a special ceremony at church, to planting trees and developing the Olive Tree Park.
The contribution made by Ingrid and Hans Dieter-Roth helped KKL-JNF build the observation tower in the Meitar Forest. The observation tower overlooks the forest and its surroundings, and allows KKL-JNF foresters protect the forest from the numerous fires that occur here during the hot summer months, which threat the forest and its surroundings.
Those moving contributions were cited by the KKL-JNF at the recognition site at the entrance to the park, where the participants went to unveil the plaques that bear the names of the donors in gratitude.
Upon the conclusion of the ceremony in Meitar, the delegation proceeded to the recognition site at German States Forest, near Lehavim. There a ceremony was held in honor of other members of the delegation, whose contributions have helped develop the forest. Hanging on the 16 recognition poles in the impressive site are the names of the 16 German states that have contributed to the establishment of the forest and its development. Another two plaques were added to those poles.
The first was a plaque in honor of Mr. Raimund Meyer, who donated his labor compensation funds to the planting of 1,000 trees in the German States Forest.
The second was a plaque in honor of the sisters Irene Endrass, Ruth Markhauser, Maneula Hoffman and Christina ter Haseborg, who dedicated the entire grove in memory of their parents as the Broackhaus Grove.
The new recognition plaques were unveiled at the ceremony under the pouring desert rain, which filled the air and hearts with much happiness.
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