On Monday evening, February 10, 2020, a festive evening took place on Tu Bishvat at the Archbishop's Palace in Hradčanské Square, Prague.
The host of the evening was His Eminence, Cardinal Dominik Duka, who expressed his appreciation of KKL-JNF and its activities related to planting new trees in Israel. KKL-JNF Czech Republic organized the event with the support the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, who was represented at the event by Mr. Jiří Oberfalzer, the Senate Vice-President.
In his speech, Mr. Michael Pacovský, President of KKL-JNF in the Czech Republic, thanked all the sponsors of the event, and spoke about the significance of Tu Bishvat for today's generation. The microphone was then handed to the guest of honor of the evening, Israeli Ambassador His Excellency Daniel Meron, who extended Tu Bishvat greetings on behalf of the State of Israel.
Josef Kšica on the harpsichord and Jan Thuri on the oboe accompanied the evening at the majestic premises with uplifting music. Their repertoire included Jewish favorites such as the Oseh Shalom prayer for peace, which the audience enthusiastically received with rounds of applause.
The guests then gathered around a table for a merry Tu Bishvat seder led by Rabbi Karol Efraim Sidon, the Chief Rabbi of the Czech Republic, who guided the participants in the customs and traditions of Tu Bishvat. The seder ended with a ceremonial toast by Ms.Michaela Vidláková to the rehabilitation of the Masaryk Forest in northern Israel. Vidláková is the daughter of Jiří Laušer, the founder of Kibbutz Sarid, which is adjacent to the Masaryk Forest. Michaela raised her glass in honor of all those who care for and contribute to the forest, and to the good health of all present.
As a memento, each participant received a certificate inscribed with two trees planted in his/her name in Israel. The fragrant wine from Michlovský, and the wonderful refreshments and friendly service of the Adolph Kolping High School of Gastronomy added to making this evening truly unforgettable.
“I am not aware of any other place in the world where a Zionist organization celebrated a Jewish festival with their country’s supreme representative of the Catholic Church and the Cardinal,” said Michael Pacovský, President of KKL-JNF in the Czech Republic. “It is a rare opportunity to set an example of how we can work together to uphold the shared values of Western civilization. Undoubtedly, it is also a strong signal of unified support of Israel. We look forward to 2021, when we will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the establishment of KKL-JNF.”