Nothing stands in the way of 11-year-old Adi Goldsmith, who, despite suffering from muscular atrophy, planted a tree with KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar.
(photo credit: YEHUDA PERETZ/KKL-JNF PHOTO ARCHIVE)
Thousands of people from all sectors of Israel’s populace went out on Tu Bishvat to plant trees throughout the country.
The central ceremony took place in Lahav Forest in the Northern Negev with the participation of students, soldiers, the heads of KKL-JNF and the heads of local regional authorities. 70 new trees were planted in the forest, marking 70 years since Israel was founded.
Lahav Forest was first planted in the 1960s, and today the forest spreads out over an area of about 9,000 acres, including approximately a million trees. Over the years, KKL-JNF foresters developed unique techniques for planting in arid and semi-arid areas. Trees are planted in limans – shallow water harvesting pools, and in shikhim – earth embankments that help prevent erosion. The expertise of KKL-JNF’s foresters has earned the organization international acclaim in the field of combating desertification.
The Tu Bishvat plantings took place in ridges that were prepared in advance by KKL-JNF personnel. The muddy ground, which was the result of a week of welcome rains, did not deter the young planters from the Netaim-Meitarim School, who took over the area and began planting.
“We learned how important trees are for the environment, and also for people,” said 11 year-old Lior Istaharov, who learns at the pluralist Netaim-Meitarim school in Beersheba. “Thanks to these plantings, the desert will be greener.’
“I wish us all a happy KKL-JNF holiday,” said Salaam Abu Ayish, the mayor of Lakia, a nearby Bedouin town. “We all work together and cooperate on behalf of all the inhabitants of the Negev, and we all want to see a green Negev.”
The ceremony was moderated by Tamir Steinman, a reporter for the Hadashot 2 TV station in the south. Children from the ‘Sounds of Ofakim’ ensemble sang songs of the land of Israel. IDF representative Sharon Vaknin read the Planter’s Prayer and gave the sign to begin the ceremonial planting.
Seven pairs of planters, marking Israel’s seventieth anniversary, took part in the festive plantings. The pairs represented different sectors and faces of Israeli society: Jews and Arabs, Reform and Conservative Jews, religious and secular Jews, right and left. Especially moving was the joint tree planting of KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar together with 11 year-old Adi Goldsmith from Moshav Maslul, who, in spite of the fact that he suffers from muscular atrophy, proved that nothing stands in the way of a strong will when he planted the tree with his own hands.
“KKL-JNF mends the rending among our people and plants the roots of Zionism throughout the country,” Atar concluded. “This is the bridge on which the entire Israeli society can march together."
Read more, see photos of the Planting for Unity event in Lahav Forest
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