(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
For the first time, the Beit Hatefutsot Museum in Tel Aviv held a Sukkot festival for the entire family, featuring family trees, music and Jewish culture. As part of the event, major Jewish and Zionist organizations were invited to set up sukkot or pavilions in the museum courtyard, where festival participants could learn about the various organizations' activities. One of the favorite stops was the KKL-JNF pavilion, which featured activities for children and a table where visitors could sign up as members of KKL-JNF's e-yarok weekly touring newsletter.
Amit and Rachel, the two KKL-JNF national service volunteers who were running the KKL-JNF pavilion, said that almost everyone at the festival was interested in KKL-JNF: "They see Rachel dressed up like Herzl and that catches their attention," Amit said. The main activity for the children at the pavilion was learning about the connection between KKL-JNF activities in Israel and the support it receives from its friends all over the world. After Rachel talked about KKL-JNF's history and its iconic Blue Box, Amit invited each child to take a string, one end of which was attached to the name of a country on a map of the world. She then asked the children to attach the other end of the string to a spot on a map of Israel that marked the site of one of the country's KKL-JNF projects. "Friends of KKL-JNF all over the world donate money for Israel," Amit explained, "because there are so many important things that need to be taken care of, like planting trees, building water reservoirs, restoring rivers, and much more.
"What country is your string attached to? Argentina? Okay, they donated fire trucks to fight forest fires in the north. Denmark? That would be the Mashabei Sadeh reservoir in the Negev. And the USA? - Security roads on the northern border. Holland? - Hazorea Forest in the north. Colombia? - The Eshtaol Forest, not far from Jerusalem."
And so on and so forth until the map of Israel was totally connected to countries all over the world. "These are just a few examples," Amit added. "There are many more countries that support us, and there are so many projects that there's not enough space on a map for all of them. And now, for your next task – spending the next few years visiting all these amazing places!"
Amnon Mizrahi, the KKL-JNF person signing everyone up for e-Yarok, had his hands full: "Dozens of people sign up every few hours. They're always amazed that it's totally free of charge. I tell them that if they want, they can buy buttons with KKL-JNF magic forest characters for the kids or Blue Boxes."
We spoke with Nili Sender, who just signed up for KKL-JNF's e-Yarok: "In general, I'm very involved in anything 'green'. Until now, we haven't really had the opportunity to participate in KKL-JNF hikes and activities, because our children were small and we needed to do things at their pace. We like to camp out in nature. For example, we spent a wonderful time in Haruvit Forest not too long ago. Before that, we were in Lavi Forest in the north, and we were really impressed to see how clean it was. On the other hand, when we camped out in Goren Park in the Western Galilee, we were attacked by a swarm of wasps!"
Sharon, from Netanya, told us that her family loves being outdoors, but
that they've been a bit lazy recently: "Our children are from ages
1-13. I hope that getting a weekly email from KKL-JNF with all the
week's activities will help push us out the door. Before the kids were
born, we loved hiking in the Negev. Now, we need to go places where we
can manage with baby carriages. Amnon told me that many KKL-JNF sites
are stroller-friendly, so I'm really looking forward to being back in
Vered, a Tel Aviv resident who was at the festival with her son Lior -
"I have two other children at home, and to tell you the truth, spending
time outdoors is not something we do regularly. Recently I was thinking
that maybe we should put hiking and biking on our priority list, and
now I just saw the KKL-JNF pavilion and thought, here's my chance. I'd
like for us to start now, during the fall, when the weather is just
perfect for outings in nature."
Maya and her son Itamar came from faraway Kadesh Barnea, a village on
the Egyptian border: "I did sign up, although I'm not sure how much
we'll be able to take advantage of the activities, since we live in an
isolated area that is far away from almost anywhere. Maybe this will
help us come up north once in a while. But I must tell you, we don't
need to come to Tel Aviv to hear about KKL-JNF. Wherever you turn your
head in Kadesh Barnea, you see something KKL-JNF did, from landscaping
to preparing the land for new homes and agriculture. Now that I think
about it, it's not just in Kadesh Barnea. Wherever you might go, or
wherever you might be in Israel, you'll always see something done by
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