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Telfed Tiyul to Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Friends of Zion Museum

Early morning and bright sunshine on 28 June saw a group of 45 South African expats board a tour bus in Raanana, headed for the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. The visit, facilitated by South African expat, Alan Berkley, Chairman of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, and his team was an absolute winner.

Besides the fact that our group was feted and treated as VIPs from arrival to departure, the Gardens themselves were   revelation. After a scrumptious welcome consisting of drinks and freshly picked vegetables, we were introduced to the Kaima programme, an experimental hydroponic herb and vegetable growing project. 

Besides the advantages to agriculture, this programme benefits at risk youth who participate in the programme in such a way as to improve their self image and develop a sense of self worth. From there it was onto the JBG train and a tour of the Gardens, starting with the South African section which has been so well done, you could believe yourself to be in South Africa. From bushveld shrub vegetation to Cape fynbos with aloes, acacia and yellowwood  trees thrown in, it was really a trip down  memory lane for me, having been an avid walker in the Eastern and Western Transvaal as well as in the Knysna Forests. This was followed by the sections with plants and trees representative of almost every global climatic area that comes to mind.

The visit ended with a delightful picnic lunch under the trees on tables kindly arranged by Alan Berkley and his team at JBG, for which we are truly grateful. Return visits are a must, together with children and grandchildren to enjoy the amazing children’s programmes that are also on offer.

The visit to JBG was followed by a visit to the Friends of Zion Museum, also in Jerusalem. This is a museum that has been established and funded by non-Jewish believers in the Zionist ideal to highlight the contribution of non-Jewish Zionists to the establishment of the State of Israel. This museum cannot be compared in any way to the conventional museums we have come to know.

There are no artifacts, but rather virtual displays of numerous individuals important to Zionism during the past 200 years. Not only does one see virtual images of the personalities, they talk to you and tell their story in such a way that you feel they are telling  you personally about their lives and deeds.

Once again, a remarkable experience not to be missed, to see and hear the information as well as to experience the cutting edge technology used in this museum.

Report written by Peter Bailey


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