Happy Birthday Israel!
JNF-KKL Presents a Biospheric Park in Honor of the 60th
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • email@example.com
April 16, 2008 -- In honor of Israel's 60th anniversary, Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-KKL) and the Antiquities Authority presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a new national park on Tuesday as a present to the State of Israel.
Adulam Park, located between Kiryat Gat and Beit Shemesh in the Elah Valley, is a 50,000-dunam (12,300-acre) area that contains the archeological remains of two significant Jewish coastal plain settlements -- Etri and Burgin -- from the period of the Second Temple. Similar to today's Dan Region, these two communities served as the vibrant center of Jewish life during the Second Temple period. Hundreds of tunnel-like caves dating back to the Second Temple period run through it.
The park also boasts a brand-new single-track mountain bike path, built by JNF-KKL.JNF-KKL World Chairman Efi Stenzler, Antiquities director Shuka Dorfman and Olmert signed a framed copy of the park's founding declaration at a dedication ceremony held on Tuesday. The site was uncovered in 2000-2001 by archeologists Amir Ganor and Dr. Boaz Zissu of the Authority.
Olmert affirmed the importance of connecting to the roots of the Jewish people.
“We are slowly but inexorably moving toward renewing our connection with the past,” he said. “This is a reminder that cannot be erased of our history here. There can be no doubt that this is our country. If anyone doubts it, we'll bring them here to see how Jews of old lived. And they lived not so differently than we do now.”
The Etri ruin is identified with the ancient Jewish settlement of Kfar Etara mentioned in the The Jewish War by Josephus, who lived in the Second Temple period.Ganor believes that Horvat Burgin is in fact the settlemnt of Kfar Bish, which is mentioned in both the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud, as well as in Josephus's writings. Kfar Bish was one of the principal settlements of the Second Temple period, according to the Authority's website.“There is no worthier gift for Israel's 60th anniversary and in fact no worthier gift at any time,” said the prime minister, who was presented with a wooden JNF donation box.
The park was built by JNF-KKL according to a series of biospheric principles which are part of an initiative developed jointly by JNF-KKL and the area's regional council. The concept calls for protecting the park's open spaces while coordinating with the needs of the region's communities and in cooperation with their residents, in contrast to the antiquated approach of environmental organizations that viewed forests and nature reserves as sovereign entities of which they were the sole decision makers.
The biospheric region relates to all areas of life from the integration of industry and agriculture in an environmentally safe manner to the introduction of these concepts in the schools’ curriculum. The biosphere concept is currently implemented in numerous locations throughout the world and recognized by UNESCO.
“One of our guiding principles is to leave things as they are as much as possible in terms of the natural surroundings," said JNF-KKL Deputy Chairman Yigal Yasinov. "For example, if we need to plant new trees we will plant trees of species that already grow here. In addition,AdulamPark will serve as an educational focus for the entire region. JNF-KKL has invested in developing educational centers in nearby towns such as Yavne, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Malachi, just to mention a few. These centers will provide the cities with the tools to connect youth with their heritage, and will then direct them to Adulam Park, where they will see and learn about Jewish history firsthand. Each group that comes here will benefit from an educational program suited to its particular needs. The park will be the educational, ecological and historical hub of central Israel.”
The new 28-kilometer bike path that winds through the park was created according to internationally recognized bike-riding IMB standards and is intended solely for riders -- something relatively new in Israel, where bikers, hikers and off-road vehicles usually vie for space on the same trail.
The park will be officially opened to the public in a gala event on Israel's Independence Day, May 8, 2008.
Caption: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with JNF-KKL Wold Chairman Efi Stenzler.
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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.
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