January 17, 2017 (Tevet 19 on the Jewish calendar) marked 115 years since Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) was founded in 1901 at the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel.
On that same date in 1878, the first furrow had been dug in Petah Tikva, symbolically beginning the replanting and revitalization of the land of Israel for which KKL-JNF would become so well known.
Though the organization grew to include many projects in sustainability, education, tourism, agriculture, road and reservoir development and even programs in other countries to share Israeli expertise, KKL-JNF remains synonymous with planting trees.
Responsible for about 400,000 acres of forests and natural woodlands in cooperation with the Israeli government, KKL-JNF has planted some 240 million trees in the past 115 years. All these trees help mitigate effects of climate change, prevent soil erosion and desertification, create green lungs around residential areas, and promote biodiversity.
Lots of people from across the world relish the opportunity not just to contribute to afforesting Israel but to come and plant trees with their own hands.
Here are rare photos from the KKL-JNF archive of some of the celebrities who did so from the 1960s to 1980s.