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Photo: Masaryk Forest

Masaryk Forest

Masaryk Forest is located in the north of Israel in the Jezreel Valley. It was planted near Kibbutz Sarid in 1930 during the British Mandate of Palestine, thanks to the financial support of a collection organized by the Czechoslovak Committee of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) among Czech Jews. In the territory purchased by the Fund, a forest (according to the information provided, approximately 13,000 olive, pine and cypress seedlings) was planted and dedicated to Czechoslovak President T. G. Masaryk on the occasion of his 80th birthday. It was a symbolic gesture to recognize his contribution to the fight against anti-semitism and appreciate his Zionist vision.

The opening ceremony of the Masaryk Forest in April 1930 was attended by the Czechoslovak General Consul, the representative of the Yishuv (Jewish population under British administration) - Menachem Usishkin, at that time head of the KKL-JNF, and prominent personalities of the then British Mandatory Palestine.

After the Second World War, there were only a few survivors who remembered the collections from the times of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Over the years, Masaryk Forest was forgotten, especially due to the closure of the Jewish National Fund's branch in Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s, when anti-zionist and anti-semitic trials took place in the country. In 1991, the Czech branch of the KKL was reestablished and it immediately began organizing fundraisers for further tree planting in Israel.

After nearly ninety years, the forest requires a total revitalization, both replanting of saplings and removal of unwanted vegetation. Through revitalization, KKL - JNF intends to create a place of dignity to remind the public of our first President's relationship with Israel. However, the site should also serve as a recreational area for residents of the surrounding towns and villages as well as a tourist destination. Individuals interested in planting trees in the Masaryk Forest can purchase a tree planting through the Jewish National Fund's Czech Committee website and contribute to the restoration of the site.

Students and experts from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology of Mendel University in Brno (Mendel) are also involved in the revitalisation from 2020. Simultaneously, they are taking care of the tree saplings from previous years. An important part of the project is the removal of invasive trees such as parkinsonia, spider plant, acacia and leapfrog.

The year 2023 brought further investments made by the Czech side. On 7 February, representatives of the Masaryk Forest School in Křtiny handed over a voucher for the planting of 100 trees to the Jewish National Fund. This was on the occasion of a fundraising event held by the organization together with Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský at the Czernin Palace in Prague.

Markéta Pekarová Adamová, Speak of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, began her official visit to Israel in Masaryk Forest in June 2023. On Monday, June 19, she met with representatives of KKL Israel and KKL Czech Republic and then had a meeting with representatives of the Israeli Friends of the Czech Republic in the adjacent Kibbutz Sarid.