The KKL-JNF France delegation currently visiting Israel has split up into a number of different groups, to a set out to explore the country under the banner “Science in Israel and Shaping the Future with Renewable Technologies.” The Toulouse delegates traveled north to inaugurate a number of new KKL-JNF projects in Afula’s Emek Medical Center and Nahal HaMoreh Park, while other groups visited Israel Aerospace Industries near Ben-Gurion Airport, Aeronautics Defense Systems in Yavne, HP-Indigo in Kiryat Gat and the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
Emek Medical Center (Beit Holim HaEmek) – Choosing life
At the Emek Medical Center in Afula the delegation inaugurated three projects established with funds donated by the estate of Estera Kornfeld of Nice. A garden in memory of her daughter Lucie Frydman has been created adjacent to the new health and research building currently under construction at the hospital.
Little Lucie was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of three, together with many other members of her family. “Estera Kornfeld was forced to take part in Mengele’s vicious experiments and thus, in making this donation to health, she was choosing life and in some measure exacting her revenge from the Nazi oppressors,” said KKL-JNF Advisor on Funds and Estates Yitzhak Mufsik. Mengele’s experiments rendered Estera Kornfeld infertile, and Yitzhak Mufsik emphasized the symbolism inherent in the fact that the new building would include a fertility laboratory.
“The struggle for the founding of the State is not yet over, and the mere fact of your presence here helps us,” said the hospital’s CEO Dr Orna Blondheim, as she thanked KKL-JNF warmly for its support.
A second project includes a square named after Kornfeld at the entrance to the multi-functional building to be established at the hospital. The square will be carefully landscaped to imbue the site with a fresh natural atmosphere.
The third project is a health trail that will encircle the hospital and bear the name of Estera Kornfeld’s parents. This path, which is in the planning stage at present, will be bordered by playgrounds and exercise equipment that will serve the needs of both visitors to the hospital and the local Afula population.
Afula Mayor Yitzhak Miron told his guests that every move to strengthen the hospital also strengthens the city as a whole. “I attach great importance to our relationship with Jewish communities throughout the world, and strengthening ties with them is one of the most important challenges we face,” he declared.
“We want to contribute to the patients’ quality of life and provide them with a little peace and tranquility in their difficult moments,” said KKL-JNF Board of Directors Co-Chairman Eli Aflalo, who is himself a resident of Afula. “As the hospital serves a large cross section of the general public in northern Israel, this donation on the part of KKL-JNF will help to promote co-existence and support the country’s periphery,” he added.
President of KKL-JNF France Raymond Bunan promised to strengthen ties with Afula. “I’m sure that we’ll do great things here together in times to come,” he said.
Nahal HaMoreh Park – In memory of the boys
After the ceremony at the Emek Medical Center, the delegates made their way to the foundation stone laying ceremony at Afula’s Moreh River Park, which will be established in memory of Eyal Yifrach, Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Michael Shaar of blessed memory, the three teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered last summer. This project will transform a neglected and abandoned area into a beautiful green urban park that will serve the needs of the local neighborhood and of the city as a whole. The site has already been cleared of rubbish, infrastructure work has been carried out and planting has begun. Once the work is complete, this fine verdant park will include playground equipment, seating areas, footpaths and cycle trails.
The delegation members met with the late Eyal Yifrach’s father Uri Yifrach, who touched the hearts of all those present when he said, “Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali loved the countryside and spent a lot of time exploring it.
There is no better way to perpetuate their memory than this park where children will get out into nature and connect with the land. The People of Israel are fighting for their existence in Israel, but this is our natural place in the world.”
As Flavien Sellem, President of KKL-JNF Toulouse, spoke of the connection between the murder of the three young Israelis and the shooting of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, his eyes filled with tears. “Children have been murdered simply because they were Jewish,” he said, and emphasized how important it is to visit Israel, get involved and become closely familiar with KKL-JNF’s activities.
“The murdered children are no longer here among us, but their memory will remain with us forever,” said Eli Aflalo. “The Jewish People are united, and we shall stay together in times of both sadness and joy,” added Mayor Yitzhak Miron.
Haim Hemi, Director of the Kishon River and Drainage Authority, told his listeners that it is the connection with the French Jewish community that has made it possible to create urban park facilities for the benefit of local residents.
Pupils from Afula’s Alumot School, who participated in the ceremony, have adopted the new park and are helping to care for it. As fourth-grade student Talia explained: “We’re all working together to rehabilitate the river. We’re changing the environment and taking care of the park for us children and for everyone in the community.”
The Toulouse delegates enjoyed meeting the Israeli children and talked with them in Hebrew, French and English, with hand gestures and – most of all – in the universal language of kisses and embraces.
Adulam-France Park – Nature, History and Archeology
Later in the day all the groups reunited for a joint ceremony in Adulam-France Park at Givat Yeshayahu, where a donors’ appreciation center was inaugurated. KKL-JNF Education Emissary to France Efraim Edery presided.
KKL-JNF Emissary to France Reuven Naamat told those present about the park, which covers an area of around 50,000 dunam (approx 12,500 acres) in the Judean Plain. He described the site as combining magnificent landscapes, historical ruins, footpaths and cycle trails. In the past, he said, the area had been neglected and abandoned – until KKL-JNF came along and began to develop it into a park that would attract nature and archeology enthusiasts. KKL-JNF’s Friends in France adopted the park in 2009 and ever since then, they have been helping to transform it into a tourist attraction that will draw visitors from all over Israel.
“This area has a great many parks named in honor of a variety of different countries – Canada, the USA and Britain – and now we’ve got an impressive park of our own that is a fine symbol of the relationship between Israel and France,” declared President of KKL-JNF France Raymond Bunan.
In Adulam Park, delegation member Caroline Pozmentier inaugurated a copse of trees in memory of her father, who was a committed Zionist. “We’ve come here to engage with the things close to our hearts – water, forest and land,” she said.
Some members of the French delegation had time for a motorized tour of the park before darkness fell, and they were particularly impressed by the magnificent view, the routes through the park, and the Etri and Borgin ruins – two historic Jewish sites that date back to the Second Temple Period. Everyone was delighted to learn that the threat hanging over the park has now dissipated, as plans for an experimental oil-shale extraction project at the site have been cancelled.
“This park has been developed thanks to you,” declared Haim Messing, Director of KKL-JNF’s Central Region, before he went on to enumerate a number of projects developed there by KKL-JNF, including archeological sites, footpaths and cycle trails. “We hope to establish a large visitors’ center here to showcase the Jewish People’s heritage past and present,” he announced in conclusion.