Russia and Israel celebrate 30 years of friendship in Tzora Forest. Photo: Yossi Zeliger, KKL-JNF Spokesperson Unit
In a moving ceremony that took place in Tzora Forest, near the city of Beit Shemesh, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Embassy of Russia in Israel and NATIV - the National Center for Jewish Studies, Identity and Conversion marked 30 years since the State of Israel established diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation - planting 30 new trees as a symbol of the prosperous friendship between the two countries.
Since their renewal in 1991 with the nomination of the first Russian Ambassador to Israel - Alexander Bovin, the two countries' diplomatic ties have been a key element in the massive immigration (Aliyah) waves of Jews from the ex-Soviet states into Israel
. This resulted in Israel becoming part Russophone (large population of Russian speakers), and is today considered to be the world's only part Russophone country outside the former Soviet Union. Russian is the 3rd most spoken language in Israel.
The ceremony in KKL-JNF's Tzora Forest
- a large pine forest that extends over 11,000 acres and contains several important monuments - was broadcast live, simultaneously, in the Israeli Embassy in Russia. This just days after Israeli PM Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first phone call since PM Bennett took office.
Representing KKL-JNF at the ceremony was Chief Development Officer Ronnie Vinnikov, who greeted the honorable guests, saying: “Today, we plant 30 trees, as a symbol of the strong bond our two states hold, and as a celebration of 30 years of the thriving, courageous and close friendship we share.
"Russia and Israel’s relations are now, more than ever - flourishing in every field – be it trade, culture, sports, industry, Zionism
or diplomatic relations. We are proud to stand beside you, our dear friends, here today on Israeli soil, as we look back on all that we have already accomplished together, and all that we look forward to achieving in the future.
"On behalf of KKL-JNF, I wish us all that our close alliance will continue to thrive for years to come.”
Also attending the ceremony were former Chief of Staff to Russian President Medvedev Mr. Arkady Dvorkovich, Russian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Anatoly Viktorov, and other honorable guests.