Israeli Forest to be Planted in Memory of Coretta Scott King
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • email@example.com
April 27, 2006 -- New York,NY-- An initiative to plant a forest in the northern Galilee of Israel in memory of Coretta Scott King was launched yesterday in Washington,DC.
At a ceremony held at the Faith Tabernacle United Holy Church near the Capitol, Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor said that the forest will be a living memorial to King's legacy of peace and justice.
The Coretta Scott King Forest, to be planted by Jewish National Fund, will be comprised of at least 10,000 trees and will be the second King forest in Israel. In 1976, the King Forest was launched in memory of the slain civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then, 39 trees -- symbolizing each year of his life -- were ceremoniously planted in the southern Galilee. Today that forest boasts thousands of trees.
It is hoped that the initiative, which includes a fundraising partnership with African-American churches in the United States, will strengthen ties between African-Americans and Jews fostered during the early Civil Rights Movement.
"Jews and blacks share a common historical bond of persecution and perseverance," said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., as he and Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., helped plant a ceremonial cherry tree at the church.
Other partners include the Embassy of Israel, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Alliance for Community Trees, who all are collaborating together in this effort as well as in urban reforestry community service projects throughout the United States.
The Coretta Scott King Forest will be in the Birya Forest, badly damaged in last summer’s war with Hezbollah. All told, northern Israel lost approximately two million trees as a result of Katyusha rockets that scorched the earth. Reforestation is but one part of JNF’s $400 million, 10-year campaign to rebuild northern Israel. Other aspects include upgrading parks and recreation sites; developing tourism; preparing land for agriculture and providing research and development; working on preparedness (more fire trucks, accessible hydrants and equipment storage); the purchase of a firefighting airplane; year-round camps for children; a housing loan program to encourage families to move to the north; funding of Hugey Sayarut, Israel’s elite youth movement; and volunteer activities.
Rabbi Dr. Eric Lankin, Chief of Institutional Advancement and Education at JNF, noted that the rebuilding and replanting has already begun in the north. "The spirit of Israel is to not allow its enemies to determine its destiny," he said. "The injustice has been met with a recommitment to justice in the spirit of Coretta Scott King."
Coretta Scott King died in 2006, nearly 40 years after the assassination of her husband. She would have celebrated her 80th birthday Friday.
Meridor said he was inspired by the Kings as a young child in Israel. "They made the world a better place, and we think made all of us better human beings," he said.
For information, or to make a donation, visit www.jnf.org/king
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.