Friends of JNF Canada delegation at the Tzora Planting Center.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
A delegation of JNF Canada Friends, hailing from the Jewish and Christian communities in Canada, made time in their packed ‘Taste of Israel’ touring itinerary to plant trees on November 1st at the KKL-JNF Tzora planting center. The group was led by long-time JNF Canada friends and supporters Bill and Lily Lister.
“This is my 18th visit to Israel, my “chai” visit, but it is the first time I have ever planted a tree here,” noted Lily Lister. “It feels like I’ve gotten my hands in the earth of Israel. I can really feel the earth of the land.”
The group was welcomed to the site by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, Gioia Menasce of KKL-JNF’s Canadian Desk and KKL-JNF Forester Eran Zabadi, who is in charge of the tree planting center.
Michelson imparted to the group some of KKL-JNF’s rich history, saying that the fund was founded in 1901 following the fifth Zionist congress in Basel, in order to help create the Jewish State.
Each participant received a Terenbinth sapling to plant. Eran Zabadi explained the proper procedure of planting the young trees.
“This tree planting center makes it possible for anybody to plant a tree here any time. We provide the irrigation for the tree during the dry season for the first two years, after which its root system will be strong enough to take root on its own. So this place is very important for us,” he said.
Michelson noted that 95 percent of Israel’s forests have been hand-planted. He suggested that as a gesture of continuity, each guest take home two pebbles from the planting site: one to keep as a memento and the other to give to a friend to bring back to Israel.
Before planting the saplings, the groups recited the non-denominational Planters’ Prayer, led by participant Julie George of Calgary.
After the tree planting, each participant was presented with a personalized KKL-JNF certificate of appreciation.
“It feels like all those quarters I put into the little blue pushka box
when I was a child have finally come to fruition,” said tour participant Sharon Hapton.
Bill Lister, a leader of the delegation and past president JNF in Calgary, noted that despite the many trips he had made to Israel, he had never had the opportunity to plant a tree himself.
“This is really something,” he said. “By putting your hands in the soil you really feel a connection to the land.”
Read more, see photos of the JNF Canada tree planting session in Tzora Forest