Opening Reception of KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference

Sunday, June 16, 2013 1:58 PM

Looking Ahead for the Benefit of Future Generations: The 2013 KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference opens on Saturday night in Jerusalem with a gala reception.

The 2013 KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference opened last night in Jerusalem with a gala reception attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and 250 KKL-JNF leaders from 35 countries worldwide. “KKL-JNF representatives all over the world are partners to all our work,” said KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler at the opening reception of the conference. “Assisted by the tireless efforts of our friends, we are building the State of Israel for future generations.”

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. Photo: Yoav Devir

The gala opening event was also attended by KKL-JNF co-chair Eli Aflalo, KKL-JNF executive board members and KKL-JNF senior executive officers. The World Leadership Conference (WLC) convenes every two years, and this year the focus is on sustainability and creating a sustainable future for the next generations.

Some 250 KKL-JNF representatives from 35 countries worldwide are taking part in the KKL-JNF WLC this year and participating in discussion forums, professional tours and collective think tanks on the organization's policies. As KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler said to the representatives at the conclusion of his greetings, “Together we will plot KKL-JNF's path for the years ahead.”

KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Eli Aflalo. Photo: Yoav Devir

KKL-JNF Co-Chairman Eli Aflalo noted that KKL-JNF work in diverse fields - forestry, water, parks, and so on - is for the benefit of all the people in Israel, regardless of religion or nationality. “Without people like you, I don’t know what the State of Israel would look like,” he said to the KKL-JNF leaders. He especially emphasized his appreciation for the KKL-JNF presidents, who work for Israel as volunteers, and said, “With your help, we will determine KKL-JNF's future agenda.”

Bruce Gould of JNF USA, who is co-chairing the conference, served as the chair for the opening event. “I have been actively involved with KKL-JNF for twenty years,” he said in a personal tone, “and during this time I have made wonderful friends all over the USA and the world.” Gould presented the main speaker of the evening, Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem.

“I remember,” began Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, “when I was a young boy, we used to contribute to the Blue Box, and now, as Mayor, I understand that KKL-JNF is not only an organization that collects contributions but that it is also a strategic partner in the development of the country. Jerusalem represents the unity of Jews and non-Jews, and likewise, cooperation with KKL-JNF enables the development of parks and sites where all of the city’s residents can meet, which is exactly our vision for Jerusalem.” 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Photo: Yoav Devir

In his greetings, Barkat related to the development of the city in different areas - health services, tourism, economy and employment. “The achievement of our goals is made possible thanks to our friends all over the world. I know your hearts are with us,” he said to the KKL-JNF leaders, “and I feel very privileged to be thanking you personally on behalf of the people of Jerusalem.”

The Hora Jerusalem choir performed in between the addresses of the speakers, singing songs written by senior Israeli artists as well as immigrants from the four corners of the earth, to symbolize the ingathering of the exiles and the merging of the different cultures.

The opening reception concluded with the singing of Hatikva, and it was hard to imagine a more moving sound than the national anthem being sung by people who love Israel, who had arrived from all over the world, with the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in the background.

Video Clip: WLC 2013 Opening Gala

At the opening night gala in Mamilla, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, Co-Chairman Eli Aflalo and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat extend a warm welcome to the 250 guests, who lead KKL-JNF all over the world.

Photo Gallery: Click on each image to enlarge.