Monday, June 11, 2012
"It's a privilege for me to be part of this."
"This is really magnificent. I'm sorry my parents aren't here, they would have loved to have seen this." Miles Nadal
of Toronto, Canada, had just arrived at Ayalon Canada
Park to see how the park had been upgraded, thanks to his very generous donation. At the entrance to the park, where a new sign welcomes visitors to the Miles S. Nadal and Family Environmental Community, Mr. Nadal was met by Avi Dickstein
, Executive Director of KKL-JNF's Resources and Development Division, Jessica Lawson
of KKL-JNF's Canadian Desk, Gilad Mastai
, Director of KKL-JNF's Coastal Plain Region, and Hagai Yablovitch
, regional forester who is also responsible for Ayalon Canada Park.
At Valley of Springs Lake in Canada Park. Photo: Tania Susskind
In response to Mr. Nadal's questions, KKL-JNF officials described the park: "Ayalon Canada Park is about 3,000 dunams large. It may not be Israel's largest park, but it is certainly one of the most centrally located. Besides serving as a recreation site for families from all over the country, it is also an educational center where children learn
about ecology and Jewish history in the land of Israel. On weekends, there are literally thousands of people here who enjoy the park's breathtaking scenery, archaeological sites and artificial lake."
Mr. Nadal was taken on a drive on the park road which was recently upgraded thanks to his donation. The first stop was at an ancient wine press, where he learned how wine was produced 2,000 years ago. From there, the group proceeded to a hill with a commanding view of the entire region, where they met Michal and Yvgeny, two archaeologists who had just begun excavating the site there, which includes a Hasmonean fortress that dates back to the Second Temple era.
Miles wanted to know how they knew to dig at this specific place. "Every excavation begins with surveys and sources," Michal answered. "There are sources in both the Book of Macabees and also Josephus that describe massive fortifications in this region, and we saw the remains of walls, along with pottery shards. We just started digging here five weeks ago, and we are euphoric. I've been working in archaeology for the past ten years and I can honestly say that this site is very rich in findings." Michal showed Miles some stone artifacts they had recently found. "This proves that this was a Jewish site," Michal explained, "because stone vessels were used in addition to earthenware, since the rabbis decided that stone vessels could not become ritually impure."
Miles Nadal in front of welcome sign. Photo: Tania Susskind
Miles shared a bit of his story and philosophy of life with the small group. "I grew up in a home where there wasn't a lot of income, but I had loving parents who gave me the drive and determination to succeed. Very early in life I learned that it is a privilege to give. There is a famous quote that I really like: 'One hundred years from now, no one will remember the car you drove, the house you lived in, or for that matter how much money you had in the bank, but the world will be a different place if you make a difference in the life of the young.' That's what I feel when I see the young people working at this beautiful site.
"I have a soft spot for Israel and for the environment. I'm in Israel for only two days, I have a million things to do, but I didn't want to miss visiting Ayalon Canada Park. I knew it would be good for my soul."
The visit concluded with a short ceremony by the artificial lake in the Valley of the Springs, where a plaque honoring the Miles Nadal Family's contribution to Ayalon Canada Park was unveiled. Jessica Lawson thanked Miles, "on behalf of all the people who are connected to this park, those who live it every day and know its needs. I hope you got a small picture of what's happening here and we all look forward to seeing you here again."
View from park over Modiin. Photo: Tania Susskind
Avi Dickstein noted that Miles was "a man of vision and deeds, not of words. We are very grateful to you and to your family. You have made a tremendous change here. I know you like quotes, so I have two that I feel are especially apt for you: David Ben Gurion said that in Israel, believing in miracles is being practical, and Abraham Lincoln said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. This is what you have done in Ayalon Canada Park."
Miles Nadal thanked everyone for their graciousness and hospitality, and spoke about his connection to the park and to KKL-JNF
: "When I first got involved, I really didn't know exactly what this park was about, but I knew that it had to be good, because it was connected to Israel and to the environment. I saw pictures of it, but now that I have actually been here, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of the park's beauty and the opportunities for the future. It is a privilege and an honor for me and my family to be part of this.
"It was at the 2007 Toronto Negev Dinner that the idea of the park first came up. For me, it was especially meaningful, because my parents were both very connected to Israel, and they would have been very proud to see that I had helped upgrade such a beautiful site in Israel. I can assure you that I will be back here in the near future, together with my family. Canada Park is a great source of joy to me, and I am both humbled and also honored by the reception you have given me today."