JNF Opens Second Recreation Park

The Jewish National Fund has opened Israel’s second “active recreation park” in the Herzl Forest at Ben Shemen, near Lydda. The park is one of four planned and executed jointly by the JNF and the sports authority of the Education Ministry. It offers apparatus for physical exercise for campers and pioneers of all ages, along with rustic tables and benches, barbecue grills, piped water and lavatories–to enable families and school groups to spend the day in the woods, exercising, eating and relaxing. The first such park was opened last autumn at Hazorea in the Galilee and two more are planned, at Kiryat Gat in the south and in Safed in the far north.

Opening the park, JNF Chairman Jacob Tsur said it was built to serve the main Tel Aviv area with a novel form of healthy and invigorating recreational activity. Sports authority head Yariv Oren said Israeli pioneers could now enjoy fun and exercise along with the customary “shishlik” cooked over the open forest barbecue fires. Tsur, Oren and their sides then strolled along the 1100-meter apparatus course, Oren and the sides trying out the various facilities while Tsur encouraged and applauded their efforts.

Tsur told a group of assembled children that the Herzl Forest at Ben Shemen was the first JNF forest in Israel. The first trees planted there had been olive trees, he said. Documents of the time (1904) showed that it had been the planters’ hope that their income from olive oil would suffice to found and fund a Hebrew University at Jerusalem. After World War I the project collapsed, and pines have now taken the place of the olive trees.

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