Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Holiday vacationers who participated in KKL-JNF activities in British Park over the recent Sukkot holiday.
Walking the Israel Trail. Photo: Tania Susskind
"Did you know that British Park covers an area of approximately 40,000 dunams, about 10,000 acres? In comparison, Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city, covers an area of 51,000 dunams." Tal, a KKL-JNF National Service volunteer, was speaking to one of many groups of holiday vacationers who participated in KKL-JNF activities in British Park over the recent Sukkot holiday. The audience was quite amazed to get a sense of just how big the park is.
Tal continued: "British Park began as Masuah Forest in the 1950's. Thanks to contributions from friends of JNF in the United Kingdom
, for whom the park was named, it grew and expanded and now includes recreation and picnic areas, scenic lookouts, archaeological sites, many trails, and much more. It is an ecological corridor and a model of sustainable development, which means that the social-ecological aspects of development and planning are taken into consideration in order to protect this unique area for coming generations."
Tal then invited the group to join him on a hike along the section of the Israel National Trail that climbs Tel Azeqa. In honor of its 111th anniversary, KKL-JNF is promoting walks for families and for experienced hikers along segments of the Israel Trail that go through KKL-JNF forests and parks, and many Sukkot activities focused on this theme. Tel Azeqa is an archaeological tel (hill) that overlooks Elah Valley, where David met Goliath’s challenge during a battle between the Jews and the Philistines that took place almost 3000 years ago. All along the path ascending Tel Azaka, KKL-JNF installed stones inscribed with the biblical verses that tell the story of David's unforgettable public debut.
The view from Tel Azeka. Photo: Tania Susskind
But there was no need to go back in time to see the famous battle. As the group sat under a tree with a panoramic view of British Park and the entire vicinity, Tal gave a plastic sword and shield to Yaki, one of the members of the group, and a slingshot to his son Tal. Father and son reenacted the biblical scene, and Yaki, who was Goliath, displayed an impressive knowledge of the relevant biblical sources. When Yaki-Goliath asked who was willing to fight him, Tal-David jumped up without hesitation.
"When we signed up for this KKL-JNF activity," Yaki said, "I didn't know that I would be getting in trouble with my own son."
Playing David and Goliath. Photo: Tania Susskind
The group climbed back down the hill and continued hiking on a beautiful stretch of the Israel Trail, enjoying the trees and shrubs indigenous to British Park. After going back to their cars, everyone drove to the area of the amphitheater in nature, which was built thanks to a contribution by Jaffa Hyman in 2004
. A succah and six activity stations manned by National Service volunteers awaited the families and their children. Activities focused on the Succot holiday, ecology, British Park and the Israel Trail. At the special KKL-JNF activity station, the children could put cardboard coins in a giant Blue Box
and sign their names (or draw a picture) on the pages of a replica of a KKL-JNF Book of Honor
Signing in a KKL-JNFBook of Honor replica. Photos: Tania Susskind
Blue Box activities
Oranit, who came with her friend Tal and their children, said that they go to KKL-JNF forests
quite often, "but this was the first time we took part in organized activities. We're having a great time, and you'll probably see us again at KKL-JNF activities in the future."
Another family from Ein Tzurim organized a number of their friends to spend the day in British Park. "We very much believe in familiarizing our children with nature. What's nice about KKL-JNF activities is that they're not too crowded and you always learn something new, no matter how many times you might have visited the area previously."
The day ended with a concert in the amphitheater by the Inbalim ensemble, who took the audience on a fascinating musical journey through the traditional music of Israel's various ethnicities.
Nine-year old Etai was very unequivocal in his appreciation of the day's activities: "I told my neighbors that they should come with me, but they wanted to stay home, watch TV and play with their computer. When I get home, I'll tell them about everything we did, and then let's see if they don't want to come with me next time."