The Jewish community in Colombia has a strong connection with Israel, and so naturally also with JNF, as one of the main organizations working on behalf of the state,” the ambassador said

May 25, 2010 15:14

kkl. (photo credit: kkl)


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The Colombian Ambassador to Israel Plants a Tree
in the Ambassadors Forest in the Negev
Three hundred trees have been planted in Ambassadors Forest in the Negev, contributed by KKL-JNF’s Friends in Colombia.  Colombia’s ambassador in Israel, Isaac Gilinski, took part in the planting ceremony, placing in the earth a tree in memory of his brother Lazar (Eliezer) Gilinski, who passed away earlier this year, and who also served as Colombia’s ambassador in Israel.

“The Jewish community in Colombia has a strong connection with Israel, and so naturally also with JNF, as one of the main organizations working on behalf of the state,” the ambassador said.  “I remember how when I was a kid we had a Blue Box at home, for putting in our donations to the KKL-JNF.  And it’s a real cause of happiness to me that KKL-JNF’s important work has never ceased over the years, and I am especially proud that the members of our Jewish community in Colombia are part of it.”

Gilinski was appointed his country’s ambassador in Israel about a year ago, following the death of his brother, who held the position before him.  He said that he sees himself as continuing in his brother’s path and also as following in the footsteps of their father, who arrived in this country in 1924, as part of the Third Aliyah (wave of immigration in the early 1920s).  His father became the president of the Jewish community in Colombia in 1936.

“It’s a great honor for me to be here today and, on behalf of the whole Jewish community in Colombia, to pay respect to the memory of my brother.  I thank KKL-JNF for making it possible for me to take part in this meaningful event,” he concluded.

The ambassador’s sister, Shulamit Simkovich, was also present at the ceremony, and remarked how tremendously impressed she was by KKL-JNF’s work in rolling back the desert. “What is happening here is a miracle,” she said.  “Turning the desert into a gorgeous, vibrant area is an amazing work of pioneering.”

At the ceremony’s end Simkovich, who was born in Ein Harod and has never forgotten what she learned in a kibbutz decades ago, planted with her own hands a carob tree in the Negev soil. 

The Ambassadors Forest was first planted by KKL-JNF in 2006, the year which was declared by the United Nations as the Year to Combat Desertification,  Envoys from all corners of the globe have now planted trees, including acacias, plums, carobs, sycamores, figs and eucalyptus in the 700 dunams (175 acres) of the forest.

The planting is carried out according to a special method developed by KKL-JNF for the Negev.  The water is collected in limans (artificial basins) and contoured earth terraces, to protect and nourish the young trees. For that purpose, shallow craters, small dirt mounds, or raised furrows are constructed, to help a substantial proportion of the rainfall to be stored deep enough in the ground to protect it against evaporation, but close enough to the surface for the plants to be able to make use of the water.  This method helps to reduce the strength of floodwaters and also prevents soil erosion, which is a major accelerant of the desertification process. To avoid damaging the landscape, planting in this way is done only at the tributaries of streams and not in the main channels.

The green patches that are formed in the desert become a refuge for plants, birds, mammals and insects.  These living things enrich the eco-system and can even serve as the source for repopulation and regeneration of areas that have already been hit by desertification processes.

Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ head of protocol, was one of those who initiated the Ambassadors Forest, as a joint project between the Foreign Ministry and KKL-JNF. “This site, in the heart of the Israeli desert, was not chosen by chance.  The struggle against desertification is one of the major challenges confronting the whole planet, and in Israel KKL-JNF is leading the fight,” said Ambassador Eldan.

Elisha Mizrahi, the head of the region in KKL-JNF, said that the Ambassadors Forest is part of an extensive project in KKL-JNF, to surround Beersheba and its environs with forests and woods.  “This green ring will not just contribute to the wellbeing of the people living here in this region, so that they can go out with their children into the greenery, but is also of enormous ecological importance. Around the world tens of millions of dunams of fruitful land are being lost every year, taken over by desert.  Here in Israel we are succeeding in conquering the desert, in making it bloom and are thereby doing our bit to prevent global warming.”

Rabbi Yerachmiel Barylka, who conducted the ceremony in the Ambassadors Forest, emphasized the good relations existing between Israel and Colombia.  In particular he pointed out the Gilinski family’s deep ties, across the generations, with the State of Israel. “KKL-JNF is not only trees,” the rabbi added in his remarks to the audience. “Without KKL-JNF’s land purchases and its multi-faceted activity to advance settlement and agriculture, the map of the State of Israel today would look completely different.”

Alexandra Kadden from KKL-JNF’s Latin American desk called attention to the fact that even though the Jewish community in Colombia is not large, numbering only around 5,000 people, KKL-JNF attaches great importance to its ties with the community and the nation.  “KKL-JNF’s activity in Colombia has been stepped up in the last few months, and we are sure that this will make a significant contribution to strengthening the connection between the Colombian Jewish community and the State of Israel.”

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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