Friday, September 07, 2012
President of the Central Bank of Uruguay Mario Bergara plants a carob tree at the KKL-JNF Yad Kennedy VIP planting center near Jerusalem.
L-R: Yair Seroussi, Mario Bergara and Arieh Edelheit. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
In honor of the special relationship between Israel and Uruguay, Mario Bergara
, the president of the Central Bank of Uruguay, planted a carob tree sapling at the KKL-JNF Yad Kennedy VIP planting center
just outside of Jerusalem.
Inspired by the vista of the green Aminadav Forest at the edge of the Judean Desert, Bergara said that Uruguay has had a privileged place in the history of Israel and it was up to everybody to maintain that connection.
“I will take back with me lots of academic and professional knowledge from Israel, but it is this type of human connection which one comes searching for and is surprised by,” said Bergara at the warm and intimate planting ceremony. “I am grateful for this opportunity which has expanded my visit to Israel both culturally and personally, with this added human connection to Israel.”
Bergara was welcomed by Arieh Edelheit
and Alejandra Kadan
, of KKL-JNF's Latin America
Desk. Prior to the KKL-JNF ceremony, Bergara had met with officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry and was scheduled to meet with representatives of the Latin American Friends of Tel Aviv University later in the day.
Joining Bergara at the early September planting was his colleague, Yair Seroussi, Chairman of the Board of Bank Hapoalim, who noted that his own familial roots were in Uruguay. Seroussi expressed his delight in participating in the tree planting ceremony with Bergara.
“When we speak of Zionism, KKL-JNF is one of the most essential organizations for Israel,” he said, adding that Bank Hapoalim and KKL-JNF enjoy a very strong relationship. “Whatever you see here has been created in the last 100 years. Here you see the ancient together with the new.”
The two bankers were accompanied by Uruguayan Ambassador to Israel H.E. Bernardo Greiver.
“Planting a tree is an emotional event because a tree symbolizes life,” said Greiver. “The deeper the roots of a tree, the taller it grows. So it is among nations. Hopefully many more such trees which be planted by different countries.
View of Yad Kennedy from forest. KKL-JNF Archive
Protective sleeves for new trees. KKL-JNF Archive
"Just as there are many olive trees standing in the special VIP grove, so too it is the hope of Uruguay that the fields of war will be replaced by groves of olive trees, the symbol of peace," he said.
Greeting the Uruguayan guests was the KKL-JNF emissary to Latin America Michael Adari, who enumerated some of the important ecological projects that KKL-JNF has been involved in around the world, including water sustainability and the fight against desertification. Indeed, he said, he had just returned that morning from Guatemala, where KKL-JNF was working on a project to help its government harness Guatemala's numerous water resources, which largely go unused, due to most of it going back into the sea.
Reading the Planter's Prayer. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
"But the concept of ecology is nothing new really," said Adari. "Already in the Bible when God created the Garden of Eden the concept of “ecology” existed.
“God did not create a city but a garden. We are told that God gives the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve and tells them to protect it and develop it, which is the beginning of what we today call 'sustainable development' and which we at KKL-JNF in our small and modest way are champions of,” he said.
Following the planters prayer, which was recited in Hebrew by Seroussi and in Spanish be Bergara, the two men proceeded to plant the saplings.
Bergara expressed wonder at how the trees were able to survive in such dry soil. Edelheit explained that special plastic sleeves around the trees kept in the moisture from the morning dew, ensuring adequate water for the plants.
The two honored guests were presented with special framed certificates to mark the occasion.
L-R: Michael Adari, Arieh Edelheit, Yair Seroussi, Mario Bergara and H.E. Bernardo Greiver. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
“It is a pleasure for me to take on the responsibility which planting a tree entails, of coming back to see how it grows,” said Bergara. “It really is symbolic also of what human relations are and of the relations between countries: It is not enough to have once-off connections, we need to maintain these links and contacts.”