(photo credit: KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
Members of Australian youth movements, who are currently in Israel for a year of volunteer activity, took part in a day of tree planting and a tour of the local projects implemented by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund.
The event was held on ‘Green Sunday’ - a fundraising event held by JNF Australia for environmental projects in Israel. This year, money was raised for desert afforestation.
Taking part in the event were hundreds of high school graduates from various youth movements: Beitar, Bnei Akiva, Hashomer Hatzair, Habonim Dror, Hineni and Netzer. The day commenced with a tree planting ceremony in the Ramot Forest near Beer Sheba. The forest is part of the green belt that KKL-JNF is developing that will surround the city, with the support of KKL-JNF in Australia and around the world. The city will be encircled by 6,000 acres of forest and leisure sites, for the benefit of the environment and the city’s residents, tourists and visitors from Israel and around the world.
Before the ceremony, the teenagers who are currently visiting Israel spoke to their friends who volunteered at the Green Sunday event in Sydney and Melbourne via Skype. They described their experiences in Israel with great excitement, and received news from home. The entire ceremony was broadcast live in Australia, so that even those who could not be present at the Israeli event could share in the experience.
Gael Grunewald, Vice Chairman of KKL-JNF, noted that the tree planting symbolized the connection between the past and the present. “Today, you are creating a direct connection with Abraham our forefather, who also planted a tree in Beer Sheba. JNF in Australia and New Zealand have contributed a great deal to the development of the Negev. Together with you, we will continue to build the country.”
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