(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
A very moving experience took place at a tree planting ceremony in Golda Park yesterday, November 8, 2010, where a group of forty Japanese Christians who love Israel, in ceremonial garb, were singing in Hebrew, quoting verses from the Bible and planting trees in the heart of the desert.
A mission of the Makuya movement planted a tree in the Makuya section of Golda Park in the Negev near Kibbutz Revivim. The tree was planted in memory of Chiyoko Teshima, the widow of the founder of the Makuya movement, Professor Abraham Ikuro Teshima.
The Makuya have a deep and unique connection to the people of Israel. The leader of the mission, Ryuichi Yugeta, said that Professor Teshima saw the Bible as a light for all mankind. “The establishment of the State of Israel is a realization of the biblical prophecy,” said Yugeta.
For the Makuya, spiritual love for the book of books and for the Jewish people is not enough. They are also involved in daily life in Israel, and they contribute a great deal to KKL-JNF for various projects from the Galilee to the Negev. Their projects include forests they planted in northern Israel, and they have also contributed towards construction of reservoirs in southern Israel.
Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of KKL-JNF's Resources and Development Division, noted that the members of the Makuya are loyal partners of KKL-JNF in promoting important projects. ”They helped us develop the Galilee and plant thousands of trees after the damage caused by forest fires during the Second Lebanese War. With their assistance, we constructed many reservoirs in the Negev, which bring life to the desert.”
Dickstein linked the establishment of the reservoirs to the Bible and said, “Our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked for water in the desert. In those days they dug cisterns and wells, while today we construct large reservoirs. Sixty percent of the area of Israel is desert, and our friends from Japan help us bring water to the Negev, make the wilderness bloom and establish settlements in the desert.”
During the ceremony in Golda Park, members of the Makuya sang, in Japanese and in Hebrew, a song with words from Psalms 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He shall lay me down in green meadows and lead me to tranquil waters.” No words could have better expressed the unique moment and the location, with the green lawns and beautiful lake in the background, a desert oasis created by KKL-JNF.
The large park, which was named after Golda Meir, Israel’s fourth prime minister, covers an expanse of 540 dunams and includes picnic areas and a scenic lookout. Although the region is arid, the park is green. The Revivim stream runs through the middle of it, and in rainy years a small lake is created here. The lake also gets water from the nearby baths, since water is so precious in Israel that every drop must be utilized and recycled.
At an area in the park that was constructed thanks to a contribution from the Makuya, there is a recognition plaque that reads: “KKL-JNF expresses its gratitude to the members of the Makuya movement, for their wholehearted support of the State of Israel and of KKL-JNF, and for their generosity, which facilitates the development of water sources, infrastructure, settlement and the quality of life and of the environment in the Negev.”
Efrat Benbenisti, of KKL-JNF's Books of Honor department, who has been accompanying the Makuya for years, told the people attending the ceremony that the Bible compares people to trees. She quoted the verse: "For man is a tree of the field,” and said, "Trees and people need the same four elements in order to survive - earth, air, fire (sun) and water.”
Efraim Sadao Ajiki, a member of the mission, said that the role of the Jewish people is to be a singular nation and to live in the land of Israel, and the role of the Makuya is to help them actualize this.
Yeremy Kado, the Makuya representative in Jerusalem, explained that the members of the movement study the Hebrew language and come to Israel in order to get acquainted with the Land of Israel close up. “But we don’t only want to learn. We want to be involved. We want to assist. We have great appreciation for KKL-JNF's welcome endeavors, and contributing to KKL-JNF is our way of helping the State of Israel, make the desert bloom.”
Later this week, members of the mission will be meeting KKL-JNF World
Chairman Efi Stenzler and visiting the KKL-JNF Books of Honor hall in
KKL-JNF's main offices in Jerusalem. These unique books have great
historic and artistic value, and their covers were designed by prominent
Upon conclusion of their visit in Israel, the members of the mission
will be returning to their homes. The trees they planted will remain in
the Land of Israel for generations, yet another testimony to the
steadfast bond between the Makuya movement, the people of Israel and the
Land of Israel
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