Today, March 22, 2018, Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) hosted members of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) and the Hungarian Embassy in a formal planting ceremony to celebrate Israel’s 70th.

The event, which took place in Tzora forest, included the planting of 35 trees, which will be complemented by 35 additional trees to be planted in Budapest, Hungary on May 6th. Among the attendees were Hungary’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Janos Lastofka, and KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Daniel Atar.

Photo by Yossi Selliger

Today’s ceremony marks the first collaboration between KKL-JNF and the Jewish community in Hungary. KKL-JNF first reached out to the Hungarian Jewish community about potential collaborations during the “MAHAR” conference in Montenegro for Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which took place in November, 2017. The dialogue continued following the Tu B’Shvat seminar in Montenegro in January, 2018 where various ideas were discussed, among them being a joint ceremony in Israel to mark 70 years of independence.

KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Daniel Atar, expressed the importance of maintaining strong ties with Jewish communities outside of Israel, “Even today, on the 70th year since Israel’s founding, the historic role Zionism has remains unchanged – to create a national home for the Jewish people. The state of Israel is not just a safe haven in turbulent times, it is a home for every Jew in the world, and every Jew has a part in it.” He continued that, “The trees we plant today, here in Israel, symbolize the deep commitment we all have for the next generations.”

President of MAZSIHISZ, Mr. András Heisler, said during the ceremony: “I am thrilled to be here and to take part in this exiting planting. I would like to thank the Keren Kayemet for accepting our request and organizing this wonderful event.
During the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I told him how important it is to strengthen the ties between the two countries. Alongside a strong Israel, a strong Judaism in the diaspora is also important. The plantings here in Israel and in Hungary symbolize the strengthening of this bond.”

Photo by Yossi Selliger

The budding cooperation between KKL-JNF and the Hungarian Jewish community opens up opportunities for collaboration in Hungary, where KKL-JNF could share its expertise in professional areas such as water, forestry, fire prevention, and fighting desertification, as it has done in countries all over the world. The various collaborations between KKL-JNF and other countries throughout the years includes knowledge-sharing in the field of agriculture and fighting desertification in Kenya, and in the field of forestation in Italy and Bosnia.