Holiday Cheer as KKL-JNF Distributes Christmas Trees in Givat Yeshayahu

Sunday, December 21, 2014 3:27 PM

At the scene at the KKL-JNF offices in Givat Yeshayahu, where KKL-JNF Christmas tree distribution is underway.

KKL-JNF's forests and trees are for the benefit of all the residents of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnic affiliation. In anticipation of Christmas, beautiful Arizona cypress trees were distributed to Israel's Christian community at KKL-JNF centers in central and northern Israel.

Sister Martha and Brother Pierre of the Orthodox School of the Resurrection with their chosen Christmas trees. Photo: Tania Susskind

In accordance with what has now become an annual tradition, KKL-JNF is distributing Christmas trees to local churches, monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists and the general public at its Givat Yeshayahu offices in Central Israel, and at Nazareth and Shefaram in the north. From 8 AM on Wednesday, December 17, people could be seen loading beautiful Arizona cypresses into their cars and trucks. The pungent scent of the freshly cut trees permeated the air, enhancing the festive holiday atmosphere.  

Sister Martha, who is originally from Germany, and Brother Pierre from France, took two trees for the Orthodox School of the Resurrection, which is located in Bethany. The school, which is for both Christian and Muslim pupils, begins with kindergarten and continues through high school. "This is the first year we're getting trees from KKL-JNF," said Sister Martha. "We didn't know about this possibility and we used artificial trees until now. NTV, a Russian television station, did a program about our school, and they were the ones who told us about KKL-JNF's generosity. On Friday, December 19, we celebrate our traditional Saint Nicholas Children's Feast, which is a lot of fun for the children, and these beautiful trees will make our celebration even more special."

Marion with her Christmas tree. Photo: Tania Susskind

Marion, who is also from Germany, lives in the Neve Zedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv and has been coming to get her Christmas tree from KKL-JNF for the past ten years. "When my children were younger, we used to go to Germany for Christmas, but now we stay here. I've been living in Israel for the past thirty years and if you ask me what I'm doing here, I would answer that I'm having a great time.”

According to Mira Zer, KKL-JNF Coastal Plains Region Forest and Community Coordinator, hundreds of trees are distributed annually by KKL-JNF. They are provided free of charge to organizations and churches, and private individuals can purchase them for the token sum of 80 shekels. The trees are originally planted at the KKL-JNF tree nursery in Eshtaol, and after about a year, are replanted at Givat Yeshayahu, and are then cut for distribution when they are 3-4 years old.

Joseph Sa'ad and Maida. Photo: Tania Susskind

Josef Sa'ad
, who serves as driver for the Latvian ambassador, took two trees for the embassy. He was with his friend Maida, who is from Jerusalem. "It's very nice to be here," Maida said. "It sort of reminds me of my first Christmas in California, which was so beautiful. It also makes me think of my father, who always used to bring us a tree for the holiday."

People also came to take trees for buildings that house organizations, like the International Red Cross and UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, whose headquarters is located at the historic Government House in Jerusalem, next to the Haas Promenade in Talpiyot. "It's already become a tradition for us to get trees from KKL-JNF for Christmas," said one of the UNTSO employees, as he was loading trees into his truck. "We're taking about 20 trees, and we'll be putting them all around the compound."

Tree distribution at the KKL-JNF offices in Givat Yishayahu took place on December 17-18, in accordance with lists provided by the Ministry of the Interior, the Jerusalem Municipality and other organizations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted local diplomats and ordered over 200 trees for them.

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