(photo credit: KKL)
By now, most people already realize that KKL-JNF is not just about trees, water and land, but even so, it may have come as a surprise to find KKL-JNF represented at the recent 25th annual International Book Fair that took place in Jerusalem from February 20 - 25. In fact, the KKL-JNF booth at the fair attracted hundreds of visitors, primarily due to the impressive Golden Book that was on display for public view. This was one of the book's very rare trips out of KKL-JNF's head office in Jerusalem, where it is on permanent exhibition.
KKL-JNF's Efrat Benbenisti, the person responsible for KKL-JNF's Books of Honor, described the history of the Golden Books in general, and of the Second Golden Book in particular: " It was none other than Theodore Herzl who first had the idea of creating the Golden Books as a way of raising money for KKL-JNF at the Third Zionist Congress in 1901, when KKL-JNF was founded. People or organizations have their names inscribed in the books and contribute money to KKL-JNF. It was decided that each book would be a work of art, and the names of contributors are inscribed by a calligrapher.
"The Second KKL-JNF Golden Book covers the years 1913-1922, and it was designed at the Betzalel Art School. It celebrates the Yemenite artists who were active at Betzalel at the time. The gold work was done by Boris Shatz, the founder of Betzalel, the ivory border is the work of Meir Gur Arieh, and the filigree was done by Ze'ev Raban. Artists who see the book immediately identify the artistic style of the Betzalel artists. The scene depicted on the cover is a farmer plowing his field, which is very much in accordance with how the Yemenite immigrants understood the return to the land of Israel, which for them was a return to biblical times and working the land.
"To date, KKL-JNF's Golden Books include 26 volumes, each boasting a unique design and concept. There are also a number of special volumes, for example, in honor of Israel's independence in 1948 and in honor of the Six Day War in 1967. The second volume has 8,000 inscriptions and weighs about eighty kilograms. At the present time, about 3,000 people per year ask to be inscribed in a Golden Book.
"Visitors to the Book Fair cannot help but notice the beautiful volume, and we have heard countless stories of people who were either inscribed themselves or knew someone who was inscribed in a Golden Book. When reading its pages, one has a strong sense of history and the connection of the Jewish people to Israel's rebirth.
"Every visitor to the KKL-JNF booth is offered material about KKL-JNF activities and events. The response has been fantastic, and there is no doubt that KKL-JNF's presence at the Book Fair provides us with a unique opportunity to meet people and promote KKL-JNF's green agenda."
David Tziburnik (Amitzur) was surprised to find KKL-JNF at the Book Fair, but even more surprised to see the Golden Book on display: "My parents told me that when I was born, back in 1936, they inscribed me in a KKL-JNF Golden Book, but I had never actually seen one. If I'm not mistaken, they donated for another inscription in honor of my Bar Mitzvah. Who would have thought that this is what I would find at the Book Fair, although when you think about it, it's actually the
perfect place to display such a treasure."
First held in 1963, the Jerusalem International Book Fair is a unique biennial event which draws over 1200 publishers from more than 40 countries, who display more than 100,000 books in different languages. At the fair, various literary events take place for the general public. One of the fair's main attractions is the renowned Jerusalem Prize, Israel's highest literary honor for foreign writers. This year’s prize was awarded to the English author Ian McEwan at a ceremony that took place on February 20th, the opening evening of the book fair. The Jerusalem Prize is considered one of the most renowned international literary prizes.
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