Walkathon and Activities in Aminadav Forest

Monday, April 19, 2010 10:14 AM
In cooperation with KKL-JNF, the Israel Cancer Association sponsored a walkathon in Aminadav Forest in the Jerusalem Mountains on Wednesday, March 31.


Participants could select the circular, accessible route, the long circular route, or the 4 km adventure walk.  In addition, KKL-JNF guides enriched the experience by providing activities for children and arts and crafts related to environmental and historical topics, including learning about US President John F. Kennedy, who is enshrined at the nearby Kennedy Memorial. The area is also perfect for biking, and many businesses and companies organized their employees for a holiday single. Families and the general public were able to combine a contribution to the Israel Cancer Association with physical fitness and contact with the land.


The Aminadav Forest, planted by KKL-JNF spreads over 7,000 dunams and connects the naturally occurring woods.  Together they form the largest and most impressive open, green space available to Jerusalem residents.  With the help of friends of KKL-JNF Germany, KKL-JNF has developed delightful recreation areas and picnic sites for the enjoyment of visitors to the forest.


Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive


Ron Makrin, Israel Cancer Association (ICA) marketing director and fundraiser, told us that this was the second year in a row that KKL-JNF was collaborating with the ICA on sponsoring a Pessah fundraising event: "Last year we were in Tel Hadid, not far from Tel Aviv. We believe in sport and exercise, and hiking and biking are great ways for people to keep healthy. When we first had the idea of doing a holiday fundraiser in the forest, we contacted KKL-JNF, and they were more than happy to cooperate with us. As you see, not only did they give us the site and plan hikes and bicycling routes, they even provided volunteers to lead activities with the children.  We very much identify with KKL-JNF goals and it's great to see people enjoying our country's beautiful landscapes."

The ICA and KKL-JNF station was manned by volunteers from the Ramle chapter of Rotary Israel. Beila Cohen, one of the volunteers, spoke about why they were here: "There is a very strong link between KKL-JNF and Rotary Israel, thanks to the Paul Harris Forest in the north. Paul Harris founded Rotary International in 1905, and this is the only forest in the world named for him. Every year, on his birthday, all the Rotary volunteers in Israel go to the forest for our main ceremony. We do all sorts of volunteer work. Today we are promoting the Israel Cancer Association and 'Green Light', an organization dedicated to lowering the number of car accidents in Israel."


Rahel Erel and Esther Levana are also members of Rotary and the Israel Cancer Association: Rahel: "Although it is usually KKL-JNF policy not to charge an entrance fee at any of its sites, today's activities cost 15 shekels for each participant or 50 shekels for families. All the proceeds go to the ICA, and people are more than happy to pay."


Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive


Shaul Cohen spoke about Rotary Israel and the rehabilitation of Paul Harris Forest after the second Lebanese War: "Between the first and second Lebanese Wars, katyusha rockets were fired on the Paul Harris Forest in the north, burning a lot of the trees. Together with KKL-JNF, we decided to rehabilitate the forest, and we even received special pins from KKL-JNF in appreciation of our efforts. We contacted Rotary Lebanon and suggested that they initiate a similar campaign to restore their burnt forests, but unfortunately, they wanted nothing to do with us, even for the sake of planting trees. We are currently speaking with KKL-JNF about planting more trees in the Paul Harris Forest."


Haya and Hillel Lev, their 6 year old son Asaf and 2 month old daughter Na'ama, didn't have to go far to participate in the day's activities, since they live in Jerusalem: "We are on KKL-JNF's e-yarok email list and are always on the lookout for events like this on holidays. This is the best possible way to take advantage of the holiday. Although a lot of families like to go to shopping malls, our Asaf can't stand them. The forest is where he feels at home."


Some people's children might be middle aged, if, for example, the parents are senior citizens, like Hadassah: "I live in Jerusalem, and this is what I love doing on holidays. So I demanded that my daughter Galila join me!"


KKL-JNF's 1.5 kilometer Aminadav trail is accessible for people in wheelchairs and the visually impaired. Eliyahu and Sima Isaac and their two children, Leora and Hadassah, were thrilled to be out hiking on Pessah: "This is the first time we were able to hike through the forest with our family, thanks to this path, which is accessible for special needs children. Our kids are both so happy, what a discovery for us! We were going to ask KKL-JNF to make more trails like this one, but then we found out that they already have, throughout the country. We have a lot to look forward to!"