Forty representatives of Keren Hayesod campaigns in Europe completed the southern part of the world-famous Israel Trail on November 11 on the first Keren Hayesod-UIA Walk Israel mission - in what is hopefully the beginning of an annual tradition.
The entire trail - 1,000 spectacular kilometers of history and nature, from Mount Hermon in the North to the Gulf of Eilat in the South - is expected to be completed in five years.
Kol hakavod! - Congratulations to Collectieve Israel Actie - Keren Hayesod Holland and to Erez Manhaimer our representative, for dreaming up this mission and making it happen!
The mission, supporting Keren Hayesod projects that benefit children in Israel, began on Sunday, November 6, after months of preparation.
(Erez Manhaimer, Keren Hayesod representative in Holland)
Immediately after arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, the group drove down to Yeruham in the South, where they enjoyed an opening dinner together with Mayor Michael Biton. A native son of what was then a poverty-stricken small town, Biton helped transform Yeruham into a true desert oasis, with beautiful public buildings, varied educational and cultural programs and a strong community spirit.
The hike began early the next morning with a walk through breathtaking desert scenery.
Later the group visited the Vidor Center, an R&D center for high-tech agriculture, and learned how Israel is advancing methods to overcome the desert’s challenging land, water, and climate conditions and developing scientific-agricultural solutions for extreme climate conditions and ways to optimize the use of water, wind and sun.
The next day began with a stop at the Small Crater, which was followed by a visit to the revolutionary Keren Hayesod-supported Youth Futures mentoring program in Yeruham.
(At the Youth Futures mentoring program in Yeruham)
The group then paid their respects to Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, with a visit to his grave and that of his wife Paula, in Sde Boker, where they sang Israel’s anthem, Hatikva.
In the evening, they enjoyed legendary Bedouin hospitality and fabulous desert cuisine at a Bedouin “hafla”. They learned about the lifestyle of these romantic "warriors of the desert" and how they have retained their ancient traditions in the 21st century.
Wednesday featured a hike to the Ramon Crate - a geological wonder over 40 km. long - and a visit to the Israel Solar Energy Field at Kibbutz Ketura, the first solar photovoltaic sun field in the Middle East.
They walked, they climbed, they sweated, they laughed, they prayed when it was too hard, they met Israeli children, they got to know each other - and after four days, they completed the hike.
“This track was a challenge and everybody met it”, concludes Thierry from France. “We are all proud to support Israel, its children and Keren Hayesod's programs. It was an amazing week in our nation-country!”
“We overcame this challenge together”, adds Madalena from Portugal “We are friends for life!"
Aviva from Holland confirms, “We will never forget this wonderful week with Keren Hayesod We had a lot of fun, we met very nice people!"
"Once again, deepest thanks you for letting us visit this country in a different way”, says Eric from France, summarizing the sentiments of all the participants.
Remember – “Walk Israel 2017"! is just around the corner! Explore the breathtaking Israel Trail with Keren Keren Hayesod.
As they say, "Every journey of 1,000 kilometers begins with one little step...."
Painted by Mireille Cherqui.