Forest in Jerusalem Dedicated in Honor of Lord Sacks

Tree planting has been the backbone of KKL-JNF's work since it was founded 109 years ago. It is an expression of the connection that Jews all over the world have with the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

June 17, 2010 15:30

KKL. (photo credit: KKL)

Forest in Jerusalem Dedicated in Honor of
Lord Sacks, UK Chief Rabbi

On Wednesday, June 16, KKL-JNF's Aminadav Forest, which is located in the mountains of Jerusalem, was the site of a moving and impressive ceremony dedicating a forest in honor of Lord Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, who was recently elevated to peerage. Mr. Samuel Hayek, chairman of JNF UK and the moving force behind this initiative, greeted the distinguished guest: "It is my honor and pleasure to be in this stunning location. When Rabbi Sacks was elected to the House of Lords, it was a tribute to the entire Jewish community, and it is most fitting to mark the occasion by planting a forest and beautifying Jerusalem. "Tree planting has been the backbone of KKL-JNF's work since it was founded 109 years ago. It is an expression of the connection that Jews all over the world have with the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. JNF UK chose to mark the elevation of Rabbi Sacks to peerage by dedicating a forest of 25,000 trees here in Aminadav. Aminadav means 'my people is generous', and the campaign we launched only three months ago in synagogues, community centers and schools in the UK on behalf of this forest proved this to be the case. The forest is an expression of our love of Israel and of Lord Sacks, and is a contribution to ecology, a topic the world is concerned with today and a field in which KKL-JNF is a pioneering organization."

"Roots secure the land and make it green, as you saw today during your visit to the Negev, where you met the people settling Halutziyot, the Zionist pioneers of the 21st century. This forest, which will provide oxygen, beauty and enjoyment for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, is Rabbi Sack's eternal footprint in the land of Israel. In the words of Psalm 96, "Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it, then shall all the trees of the wood sing with joy."

Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF's Chief of Protocol, who emceed the ceremony, opened the event by inviting Lord and Lady Sacks to unveil the stone plaque with the forest's name. Mr. Michelson welcomed the many distinguished guests, and then called on Samuel Hayek to award special certificates to guests who had purchased forest groves in the newly dedicated forest.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke on behalf of the Israeli government: "The honor bestowed on Rabbi Sacks is a tribute to the entire Jewish community. Lord Sacks is a towering figure whose stature is recognized beyond the confines of the Jewish community. He is a great defender of his people and at the same time an original thinker who helps build bridges between faiths. His book, 'The Dignity of Difference' presents a thought-provoking new paradigm for coexistence which seeks not only the common ground but emphasizes the need to make room for difference.

"Rabbi Sack's unique approach is especially important at a time when an effort is being made to de-legitimize Israel through false propaganda and the false use of humanistic western terminology. All people, especially Jews, must resist this offensive.

"I salute KKL-JNF for its untiring efforts on behalf of the land of Israel, and the important support our country receives from JNF UK under the leadership of Samuel Hayek. There is no more fitting manner to mark the strong connection between the Jewish people and its land than this initiative to plant a forest in the Jerusalem mountains."

The ambassador of Great Britain to Israel, His Excellency Sir Tom Phillips, expressed his delight at being in such a remarkable place: "When I was preparing to come to Israel in 2006, I met leading members of the Jewish community. I will never forget my conversation with Rabbi Sacks, who spoke with me about the ideas that he set forth in his book, 'The Dignity of Difference.' I also visited the KKL-JNF offices in London and began to understand this organization's great contribution to Israel. KKL-JNF is an ecological organization that promotes people-to-people links, which are at the core of all bilateral relations."

Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Ron Prosor, said that this forest was the best present that Lord Sacks could possibly receive: "In Israel, we face such great challenges that we often cannot see the forest because of the trees. KKL-JNF has nurtured forests for over 100 years, shaping the landscape and laying roots in our land. As of today, Rabbi Sacks, who 'branches out' to the entire community, is 'embedded' in the soil of Israel. It is fitting that as Rabbi Sacks takes his place in the House of Lords, there should be a forest in his honor near the site where King Solomon built the House of the Lord. From London to Jerusalem, we recognize Lord Sacks' contribution to world Jewry, which will continue to blossom and to bloom."

KKL-JNF World Co-Chairman Avraham Duvdevani, who was just appointed head of the World Zionist Organization, congratulated Lord Sacks on behalf of both organizations: "Trees were the first thing that Adam and Eve saw in the Garden of Eden, and trees have accompanied man ever since. When Moses sent the twelve spies to see the land of Israel, he told them to see if 'there was a tree there or not.' Trees giving fruit are an eternal symbol of redemption. I speak on behalf of myself and also on behalf of KKL-JNF's Director General, Ms. Yael Shealtieli, who is with us today, when I say that KKL-JNF in Israel is proud to be a partner to the initiatives of JNF UK, here in Jerusalem and throughout the country."

Lord Sacks, a world-renowned speaker, said that he and his wife Elaine were honored and touched: "There is no honor we have received or could receive that is greater than to have a forest dedicated in our name in the place that the Jewish nation calls home. I would like to thank KKL-JNF, an extraordinary organization, for everything they have done. Rachel Carson drew attention to the impending environmental crisis when she published her book 'Silent Spring' in 1942, but KKL-JNF has been ecologically oriented since it was founded 109 years ago at the Fifth Zionist Congress. It has transformed the landscapes of Israel, which earlier travelers described as barren and desolate. Now, I challenge you to find a vision more magnificent than the view we enjoy from this beautiful site as the sun sets anywhere else in the world.

"Earlier in the day we visited Halutziyot in the Negev, where KKL-JNF is building new villages in the middle of nowhere. Seeing where these brave people chose to live, I thought to myself that God must have chosen the Jewish people because we are the craziest people on earth. It was there that I understood the words of the prophet Jeremiah: 'Thus says the Lord: I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.' There in the Negev and here in the mountains of Jerusalem I know that the great truth which moved the Jewish heart 28 centuries ago still moves the Jewish heart today.

"Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, the Talmudic sage who should have invented KKL-JNF, said that if you are planting a tree and hear that the Messiah has arrived, carry on planting your tree. That is religious politics we can live by. The Messiah will come not as the result of supernatural intervention, but by planting trees.

"Last Shabbat, we read the story of Korah in the Bible. Korah presented the most serious challenge to Moses' leadership, and even when the earth swallowed him and his followers, the Jewish people was still not convinced. God's response was to command Moses to take twelve sticks, and when Aaron's stick blossomed and bloomed, his leadership was confirmed. That is the greatness of the people of Israel and the state of Israel. We are the people who plant trees and make things grow. May God bless Israel and KKL-JNF."

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rabbi Sacks and Samuel Hayek read the Planter's Prayer, and Rabbi Sacks was presented with a certificate commemorating the occasion. Together with the many guests, Lord and Lady Sacks turned words into action by planting trees in the newly dedicated forest. The music of the excellent quartet invited to the ceremony by KKL-JNF combined with the light of the setting sun so unique to Jerusalem to create a moment no one present will ever forget.

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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