About KKL-JNF in the Holy Land

KKL-JNF nurtures the Holy Land for the benefit of all the different people living in Israel, no matter what their race or religion.

About KKL-JNF in the Holy Land

KKL-JNF has been active in the Holy Land over the past century in many spheres, including planting new forests; restoring and caring for existing forests and woods; reclaiming land for human settlement, agriculture, and tourism; and constructing reservoirs to provide desperately-needed water. Today we are one of the major environmental organizations in Israel and as such work for the benefit of all the different people living in Israel, no matter what their race or religion.

Since its founding, KKL-JNF has planted more than 220 million trees in Israel covering an area of some one hundred thousand hectares. Planting continues at the rate of approximately 2,000 hectares a year. KKL-JNF is also responsible for caring for some 40,000 hectares of natural woodland and has opened roads through the forests so that they can become accessible recreation areas for both tourists and local residents.

All this has not been solely a Jewish effort. Thousands of Christians have planted trees in the Land of the Bible in honor and in memory of their loved ones, friends, and leaders. The many projects in Nazareth Forest, the Millennium Forest, Jordan Park and Jerusalem are just a few examples of KKL-JNF activities to preserve and foster sites holy to members of all religions in the Land of the Bible.
Pope Benedict XVI plants the 'Tree of Peace', an olive tree from KKL-JNF's Eshtaol tree nursery, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Capernaum (Kfar Nahum)

"And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim." Matthew 4:13

Capernaum is located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). The remains of an ancient fishing village were found at the site and according to Christian tradition, Jesus selected it as the center of his activities in the Galilee after leaving Nazareth, and taught in the local synagogue. Capernaum was also the home of the apostles Peter, James, Andrew and John, who were fishermen and Matthew, the tax collector. One of the houses excavated at the site is believed to be the house of Peter. Two synagogues were found at the site, an early one from the time of Jesus and a larger, grander one dating back to the 4th century AD. In the 5th century, an octagonal church was built on the site of Peter’s house.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both visited the site when they were in the Holy Land. The site is owned by the Franciscan Order (the western section) and by the Greek Orthodox Church (the western section). In the eastern section is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles, built in 1931, standing out with its white walls and bright red domes. The inner walls are covered with unique frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament.

In expectation of the Millennium, KKL-JNF, the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority developed the entrance to the Capernaum National Park and a dock from which visitors can sail to Tiberias and Ein Gev.

Ancient Synagoge in Capernaum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin!..." Matthew 11: 21-22

It is not surprising that Pope John Paul II chose Korazim as the site for his main mass when visiting Israel in 2000. The area has preserved the natural landscape in which Jesus walked 2000 years ago and gives visitors the feeling that they are following in Jesus’ footsteps.

The ruins of Korazim overlook the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Korazim, along with Bethsaida and Capernaum, make up what is known as the “evangelical triangle”, because many of the teachings and miracles of Jesus occurred in this area. The towns were condemned by Jesus because their people refused to accept his teachings and repent.

KKL-JNF is now planning a park at Korazim in memory of Pope John Paul II who did so much to bring Jews and Christians together. The park will be established on the terraced basalt slopes of the Korazim ridge. A network of landscaped paths and steps will connect the various levels, among which will be pools and channels of water to create a welcoming tranquil atmosphere. A number of attractive elements will be developed overlooking the beautiful landscape of the Sea of Galilee. A central gathering area will be built for holding prayers and masses for the benefit of the many Christian pilgrims that visit the site. On the surrounding slopes biblical fruit trees and native vegetation will be planted.

Mass with the Pope in Korazim, 2009. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The Gospel Trail

The Gospel Trail is a complex of paths, sites and scenic attractions KKL-JNF developed for Christian pilgrims who would like to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in the cradle of Christianity in the Galilee.

As part of this project, KKL-JNF developed a 2.5-kilometer route that allows people to descend on foot from Mount Precipice to Iksal and join the trail.

The route has been marked with special Gospel Trail markers – two basalt stones bearing the trail logo. The path begins at a paved entrance near a KKL-JNF scenic lookout on the mountain summit that overlooks breathtaking biblical landscapes.

Cardinal Antonio Cañzares Llovera (middle), walks along part of the Gospel Trail. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Mount Precipice

Mount Precipice is one of the peaks in the Nazareth Mountains lying south of Nazareth, rising 397 m above sea level, and 60 m above the city and providing a breathtaking view of the Jezreel Valley and the surrounding hills. This is where Christ fled to when he enraged the Nazarenes following his sermon at the synagogue: "…And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way." (Luke 4: 29-30). A tradition dating back to the Crusader period claims that there are signs of where Jesus grabbed on to a rock so the angry Nazarenes would not cast him off the mountaintop.

KKL-JNF built a scenic road to these wonderful views. A number of trails head out from the parking area to the top of the mountain and to scenic lookouts. The Gospel Trail also starts at the parking area and leads to a number of Christian sites in the north, all the way to the Jordan Park, Bethsaida and Korazim.

Among the lookouts KKL-JNF has built on Precipice Mountain is the Three Faiths Lookout, where an olive tree flourishes that was planted in honor of Pope John Paul II in honor of worldwide peace among all faiths. Another charming spot is the Forester’s House Scenic Lookout, a structure that was used for guarding and maintenance in the forest during the British Mandate era. KKL-JNF built an impressive amphitheater here in honor of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, where he celebrated a mass attended by 40,000 people.

KKL-JNF lookout point from Mt. Precipice. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Tel Bet Tsayda (Bethsaida)

Tel Bethsaida is located in Jordan Park, a beautiful and peaceful green area along the banks of the eastern channel of the Jordan River. The park offers extensive opportunities for relaxation and has long been popular with visitors from all over Israel.

Bethsaida is one of the most frequently mentioned towns in the New Testament – the birthplace of the apostles Peter and Andrew and the home of the apostle Philip. Theodosius (530 CE), claims that Bethsaida was also the home of the fisherman Zebedee and his sons James and John. According to the New Testament, Bethsaida was the site of the feeding of the multitudes, healing of the blind man and near its shores Jesus was seen walking on the waters. Et-Tel, the mound identified as ancient Bethsaida, is located on a basaltic spur north of the Sea of Galilee, where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee. The tel is one of the largest in the Israel, rising 25 meters above the valley, which was once covered by the Sea of Galilee.

KKL-JNF works together with other agencies to restore the ancient remains and develop recreational activities in Jordan Park.

Remnants of ancient fishing village at Bethsaida. Photo: Wikimedia Commons