Published on : 09/10/2015
By : Arista Asmawati
The Prime Minister of Lithuania, Dr. Algirdas Butkevicius, planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem several days before the Jewish New Year.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Dr. Algirdas Butkevicius was the 75th head of state to plant a tree in the Grove of Nations, where presidents and prime ministers plant a tree as a sign of friendship with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and as a blessing for peace.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this festive ceremony and glad that relations between Lithuania and Israel are developing,” said PM Algirdas Butkevicius.
In his greetings, KKL-JNF Vice Chairman Mr. Gael Grunewald noted the firm friendship between the two countries, and Lithuania’s support for Israel at the UN. He spoke about the work of KKL-JNF over the last 114 years for the development of Israel and said, “Planting a tree is a meaningful symbol, and we are sure that relations between our countries shall become stronger, just as the tree we have planted shall grow and become bigger.”
The ceremony was emceed by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Mr. Andy Michelson. Michelson informed the guests that this year was a shmita year, when the Land of Israel lays fallow, and trees are not planted. He explained that this was why the planting was being done in a large planter rather than in the ground. In a few days, however, right after the New Year, the fallow year will be over, and KKL-JNF foresters will be planting the tree in the ground.
The tree planting ceremony took place following the Lithuanian delegation’s visit to Israel's Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem, next to which the Grove of Nations is located. “After the emotionally difficult tour in Yad Vashem, where we viewed the tragedy of the Jewish people, we proceeded to plant a tree, which symbolizes life and peace, and this has been an exceptional and moving experience for all of us,” said the Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Edminas Bagdonas, at the conclusion of the ceremony.
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