The "Natural" Thing to do after the Inter. Bible Contest

"KKL-JNF has been planting trees in Israel ever since it was founded 109 years ago, and since then, we have planted over 240,000,000 trees.

April 26, 2010 11:41
4 minute read.

1. (photo credit: kkl)

Planting Trees – The "Natural" Thing to Do after the
International Bible Contest

Every year on the afternoon of Israel Independence Day, tens of thousands of Israelis are glued to their television sets to watch the International Bible Contest (Hidon Hatanach). The contest is a worldwide competition for high school students that was originally founded by David Ben Gurion, and the winner is awarded a four-year scholarship to Bar Ilan University. Out of about 45 participants who came from all over the world, sixteen finalists competed in the Independence Day contest. This year's winner was Or Ashoel (17) from Kfar Saba, Israel, and the two runner-ups were Elad Nachshon (17) from Rehovot, Israel, and Avner Netanyahu (15), the son of Prime Minister Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu.

The morning after the competition found all the participants at KKL-JNF's Aminadav Tree Planting Center in the Judean Mountains, where they were greeted by Michael Ben-Abu, director of KKL-JNF's Israel Fundraising Department: "It is the Bible that tells us that our roots are in the land of Israel. You are connected to your roots through your impressive knowledge of the Bible, and now, you will be planting trees in the soil of the land of Israel, trees that will be taking root and growing, like the Jewish people in its ancient homeland.

"KKL-JNF has been planting trees in Israel ever since it was founded 109 years ago, and since then, we have planted over 240,000,000 trees. These trees will make our country more beautiful and help the environment by absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Everyone will receive a special tree-planting certificate, but before handing them out, I call on Or Ashoel, the winner of the contest, to read the Planter's Prayer."

After planting her tree, Or said that this was the perfect thing to do the day after the contest: "In Leviticus 19:23, it says, 'When you come to the land, you plant trees'. That is especially the case for the kids who came from abroad, and it connects all of us to the land. This was the first time I planted a tree, until now,
I planted flowers.

"Bible study has been a tradition in my family ever since I was young. My father was a runner-up in the contest when he was in high school. Our family tours Israel a lot, and wherever we go, my father asks us to quote where the particular spot is mentioned in the Bible. The truth is that I really didn't expect to win first place, it's a bit of a surprise for me."

Elad Nahshon of Rehovot, the first runner-up, said that he had always loved the Bible: "I started studying seriously only about a year and a half ago, and I didn't really think about whether I would win or not. All the participants have been together the last two weeks in a special camp, which will continue for another week and a half. Besides studying, we tour the country and meet all sorts of people. Everyone has been very supportive of everyone else, whether they won or not."

Yael Goldsmidt is one of two high school students representing Argentina at the Bible Contest: "We started preparing for the contest about two and a half years ago and yes, I believed from the beginning that I would make it to the finals in Israel. I was one of the sixteen finalists. During the contest, I tried not to get too excited and to keep my cool, because I needed my mind to be as clear as possible. After the competition was over, I let myself feel how exciting it is to be a part of this."

Sarah Sheindal Kaltmann of Melbourne, Australia, participated in the Australian contest last year, but didn't make it: "I knew I would this year. The truth is that I haven't done so well in my other subjects because all my learning energy has gone into Bible study. Participating in the Bible Contest is a family tradition for us. My sister Naomi was a finalist in 2006, as was my brother David in 2009."

Alex Maged (16), studies at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto: "When I got on the plane to come to Israel, I thought the main thing would be the competition, but now that I'm here, it's been the camp that's been incredible for me and for all of us.  
Planting a tree in Israel is really cool. You always see pictures of people planting trees in Israel, and now I'll have my own picture of me doing it!"

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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