US Senators and Advisors Plant Trees near Jerusalem.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On a pleasant summer afternoon in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson welcomed Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, at the KKL-JNF VIP tree planting center next to the Kennedy Memorial
. The two senators are the only African-American senators currently serving in the United States Senate, and in spite of the fact that they are from different political parties, they are the best of friends.
Senator Scott said: “In order to realize the goal of coexistence for disparate communities, you need to have trust and the ability to work with each other. Just as both of us are planting this tree, different people need to find common ground. We hope to affect others with our spirit over time.” Senator Booker agreed. “Since I am a Democrat and Senator Scott is a Republican, planting a tree together in the Holy Land
is a true symbol of bipartisan cooperation.”
Mr. Michelson briefly described KKL-JNF’s history
to the senators and mentioned the extensive cooperation between KKL-JNF foresters and the United States Forestry Service
. He also noted that KKL-JNF’s VIP tree planting site is located next to the Kennedy Memorial, “where Israeli schoolchildren learn about democracy and how one person, like President Kennedy, can really make a change.”
After the senators recited the Planters Prayer and planted their tree
, Senator Booker noted that “although I have been to Israel in the past, this is the first time I have planted a tree here. Doing so is very meaningful, it contributes both to the environment and also to the settling of the land. Planting this tree gives me a great feeling of pride.”
Directly after the senators finished planting their tree, a group of twelve bipartisan congressional advisors arrived on the scene to plant two trees after they too were welcomed by Andy Michelson. The advisors, many of whom were in Israel for the first time, were on the third day of their five-day visit. Ms. Rachel Hoven Lipsey, defense and foreign affairs advisor to Senator Joe Donnelly, said that she found Israel to be an incredible country. “I am very impressed by how kindly and compassionate people are here, and also by their dedication and strength. Planting a tree here is a way to keep a connection with Israel even after we’ve left. I hope the tree will grow strong and healthy, and I wish the same for the relationship between our two countries.”
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