(photo credit: KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
KKL-JNF's Tu Bishvat events are always exciting and fun, but the tree planting celebration that took place on Friday, January 25 in the Carmel Forest was an extra special occasion. This was the first time that trees were being planted in the Carmel since the devastating forest fire that broke out two years ago, and the holiday atmosphere was palpable. Hundreds of people from all over the country came to a designated parking lot where they left their cars and then boarded busses provided by KKL-JNF free of charge, which took them to a destination near the Carmel Forest Spa Hotel. From there, everyone walked about one and a half kilometers to the tree planting site, stopping on the way at activity stations for children manned by KKL-JNF National Service volunteers.
There were also special guests on hand. Karel, Stanislav, Vladimir, Rudolph and Libor are foresters and laborers from the Czech Republic who are in Israel for two weeks, working from sunrise to sunset in the Carmel, doing whatever is necessary to help rehabilitate the forest.
The day's events were expertly coordinated by KKL-JNF's Eti Azulai, who welcomed everyone personally, including a group of some of the staff of the Department of Cardiac Surgery of the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, where her son-in-law Itzik is a nurse. The Rambam group was led by Dr. Gil Bolotin, the director of the department, who came to plant trees with his three daughters, Shiri, Maya and Romi. He said that about 25 staff members had come with their families, since "after all, we had to leave a few people on duty at the hospital. We do various activities together, it's a way of spending time with each other outside of our work environment," Dr. Bolotin said. "It seemed only natural for us to come here to plant trees on Tu Bishvat."
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