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The 2012 Magshim Israel Yafa (“Beautiful Israel Award”) was presented to KKL-JNF on the 110th anniversary of its foundation. The festive award ceremony took place at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem last week.

Prior to the official ceremony, 500 guests including KKL-JNF personnel from all over Israel, government ministers, chairmen of regional councils and other dignitaries were welcomed at a garden reception.

The award ceremony was hosted by the journalist Oren Weigenfeld who described the virtues and accomplishments of KKL-JNF and the reasons for its selection for this year’s award: "For building a bridge between the Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel, and for developing the land so it could be used for inhabitation and for cultivation."

A video clip featured a variety of projects undertaken by KKL-JNF since its establishment. Rivka Michaeli, veteran actress and Rag Bar Natan, actor and comedian, presented KKL’s achievements via humorous skits and songs. However, it was President Peres who stole the show with his witty anecdotes eliciting waves of laughter.

In his speech, President Peres described Israel’s existence as a phenomenon that defies the laws of nature. “We live in a land that is impossible to farm, but we are known all over the world for our agriculture. From every drop of water, we produce five drops….No diplomatic efforts can succeed better than the ability of Israel to help countries overcome desert aridity, water scarcity and hunger.”

Photo by Batya Basdanowski

The President of Israel and the Chairman of the Council for a Beautiful Israel presented the Beautiful Israel award to KKL-JNF world chairman Mr. Efi Stentzler. In return, Mr. Stenzler and KKL chairman Eli Aflalo presented to President Peres a symbolic gift of a blue box constructed of olive wood.

President Peres concluded the ceremony with his vision for KKL-JNF: "This award is only a stepping stone in the path of the organization, which will continue to unite our people and ensure that our children grow up in a beautiful country.”

Photo by Batya Basdanowski