KKL-JNF Parks and Forests Packed During Pessah
Earth Day Happening in Ben Shemen Forest
According to official statistics, approximately 3 million people visited KKL-JNF parks and forests and other natural sites during the recent Pessah holiday. KKL-JNF organized various activities in the southern, central and northern regions of the country for all ages, including guided hikes, biking trails and activities geared towards learning about the environment and how to protect it. One such activity was entitled "We've got the Whole Earth in our Hands" in Ben Shemen Forest in Israel's central region, in anticipation of International Earth Day, which will take place on Thursday, April 22. Earth Day is based on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income, or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment. More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.
Ben Shemen Forest is located in Israel's central region, near the country's largest population center. A steady stream of cars followed the signs to the KKL-JNF registration booth in the heart of the forest, where families signed up for one of the many groups that went for a three to four hour walk through the forest, stopping every so often for activities and explanations about our responsibility to protect the earth and care for it. Guy
, one of the many KKL-JNF volunteer guides leading the groups, warned everyone to watch out for the many bikers enjoying the forest trails while hiking. In order to demonstrate how fragile the earth really is, he had the children stand in a circle and throw a painted globe to each other. When someone missed and the globe fell on the forest floor, it became dented, which initiated a conversation on how if we're not careful, the earth is damaged.
The children were then given the opportunity to create their own globes, using balloons and old newspapers, which they dipped in glue and pasted to the balloons. The globes were hung to dry out on strings tied to trees and when the hike was over, the children took them home with them. Other activities included learning about camouflage in nature, the history of the development of the universe, global warming, water issues, trees and forests, and dealing with waste products. The children displayed an impressive degree of knowledge about environmental issues, reflecting the emphasis placed on this subject in Israel's schools in recent years and KKL-JNF's dedication to promoting environmental education. Irit and Nir Hamtzani
and their three children, Nitzan, Ofir and Shachar
, didn't have to travel far to Ben Shemen Forest, since they live in Modi'in, Israel's newest city, which is basically adjacent to the forest. "We are registered on KKL-JNF's 'e-yarok' email list, so we are always updated about what's going on in nature during the holidays and all year long. It's really nice to have such a huge and beautiful forest right next to our home."
Many families invited their neighbors to join them for KKL-JNF holiday activities, like Marius, Irene, David and Efrat
, all from Rehovot, along with 5 1/2 year-old Ron. Irene was very impressed by the KKL-JNF volunteers: "Is it possible to invite them to organize activities in nature all year long, for example, for birthdays or end of the school year happenings? This is so much nicer and more meaningful for the children than loud parties in shopping malls or halls. I would like to already reserve them for Ron's birthday in August!"
It was occasionally possible to meet three generations of holiday vacationers, like the Tzubari family
Yahud: "We're here with our children and their grandparents. The
children loved figuring out where the chameleon is in the picture that
shows how it changes its color to hide itself from its predators. This
is a great way of bringing the family together."Ron and Neta
two children from Rishon Letziyon, seemed to know the answers to all
the questions. When Guy explained about the greenhouse effect and how
dangerous gasses were trapped in the earth's atmosphere, Neta added:
"The gasses have names, like carbon and nitrates, and there's too much
of them because we burn too much fuel."Adar Lucia
said that "this is really great stuff. My industrious wife Ofir looked
up what we could do for the holidays and came up with this idea. It's
perfect." Inbal, their daughter, assured us that she was having a great
time: "Maybe it's unusual for girls my age, but I can't stand shopping
malls. This is the sort of thing I really enjoy doing. I come home
tired, happy and hungry, which is lucky, because tonight we have to eat
another holiday meal!"
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