pope visit kkl.
(photo credit: )
On Monday, 11th May, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI will begin his official visit to Israel, which will include Jerusalem - the President's Residence, the Chief Rabbinate and Gethsemane - Bethlehem and the Precipice Mountain near Nazareth. In anticipation of the Pope's visit, KKL-JNF has been making preparations both at the President's Residence Gardens and also at the Precipice Mountain site, where an open-air mass will be held for an estimated 45,000 people.
On Wednesday, 6th May, Yehiel Cohen, deputy director of KKL-JNF's Jerusalem Region, chose an olive sapling from KKL-JNF's Eshta'ol tree nursery in the Judean Hills, to be planted in the gardens of the President's Residence. "I was asked to choose one of our finest specimens," Cohen declared. "We will be taking this olive tree to the President's Residence today, where it will await the Pope, who will complete its planting and declare it the "Tree of Peace".
The tree was indeed lovingly transported by KKL-JNF employees from Eshta'ol to the gardens of the President's Residence in Jerusalem, where it awaits the Pope. The gardens, which are currently being renovated by KKL-JNF, through its friends worldwide, are a miniature version of the Land of Israel and as such, KKL-JNF, the "gardener of the Land of Israel" has gladly accepted the Residence's request to undertake certain changes in the gardens. In the planning, particular emphasis was placed on water conservation: wasteful expanses of lawn have made way for thrifty plants that require little water; a new water conserving irrigation system has been designed and work was speeded up so that the project would be completed for the Pope's visit. An employee at the President's exclaimed when she first saw the "Tree of Peace" and the site chosen for it: "What a beautiful tree! Its shape and size are exactly right for the spot chosen."
KKL-JNF has also been busy in the Galilee, where KKL-JNF bulldozers worked around the clock to prepare the site of the open-air mass to be held by the Pope at Precipice Mountain. KKL-JNF enlarged the area of the amphitheater located on the slope of the mountain, where the mass will be held and in addition, upgraded roads in the area and renovated other projects located on the mountain.
On Wednesday, 6th May, an ancient olive tree, estimated to be 500-600 years old, was moved from an Israeli Army naval base that is undergoing extensive renovations to the Precipice Mountain site. KKL-JNF decided that due to its historical importance and its being a traditional symbol of peace, the olive tree would be replanted in the "Reconciliation Forest" near Nazareth in honor of Pope John Paul II.
The site chosen for the tree is on the route to be taken by the Pope and his entourage on their way to the amphitheater where the mass will be held. The Pope will stop by the tree and bless it, expressing the hope that peace will soon come to this troubled region of the world, one of the central messages of the Pope's pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
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