Tuesday, May 27, 2014 2:26 PM
"Because the world was created by God’s hand, it is holy and we must treat it with respect.”
“I have planted a great many trees on my travels throughout the world, but planting a tree in the Holy Land has special value,” said Patriarch Bartholomew I as he planted an olive tree in a ceremony at the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. The event took place during Pope Francis’s visit to Israel. “Through this tree I move backwards in time to our shared roots and our shared patriarch Abraham,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.
Leaders from all over the world have planted trees in the Jerusalem Forest’s Grove of Nations, as a gesture of friendship towards the State of Israel and identification with the Jewish People, and as a symbol of peace between all nations.
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler welcomed the Patriarch at the Grove of Nations and said, “The tree you plant here today is a symbolic step along the path to cooperation. I believe that Orthodox Christians from all over the world will follow the Patriarch’s example by planting trees in Israel and praying for a better, greener world.”
The World Chairman spoke of KKL-JNF’s activities over the years and said emphatically: “KKL-JNF is leading the Jewish world in a giant afforestation project. Together we have transformed this barren terrain into a wonderful green land.”
Efi Stenzler greets Patriarch Bartholomew. Photos: Yoav Devir
Bartholomew I next to planted tree
His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch is considered the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians all over the world. Apart from his official duties, Bartholomew is also renowned for his unofficial activities on behalf of the environment, which have earned him the informal title of “The Green Patriarch.”
“We work to protect the environment and to raise public awareness of the issue. Because the world was created by God’s hand, it is holy and we must treat it with respect,” declared the Patriarch emphatically.
Throughout the ceremony, harpist Maria Golberg and violinist Idan Denesh accompanied the proceedings with a rendition of Bach’s Ave Maria. The event was presided over by Elisha Mizrahi of KKL-JNF's Resources, Development and Public Relations Division, who invited members of the delegation to plant an olive tree with the words: “This tree that you are about to plant joins over 240 million others that KKL-JNF has planted throughout our country.”
After the speeches were over, the Patriarch and his entourage, escorted by the KKL-JNF World Chairman, set out to plant trees. “Now I feel more closely connected to the Holy Land. Please regard me as an honorary member of your nation and your land,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.