Agriculture Award Presented at Succah Celebration

City Council President Andrew Stein and actress Ann Jackson presented a New York state farmer with the first Volcani International Scholarship and Research Fund award Tuesday in a ceremony commemorating Israel’s 40th anniversary and the Jewish holiday of Succoth, held under the roof of what is billed as the world’s largest succah, located on 14th Street in Manhattan.

The Volcani Center established the award, which was presented to Wayne Stoker, to educate farmers and graduate students about the fields of agriculture in which they are ignorant, so that they can be self-sufficient. Stoker, from Munnsville, NY, will be spending two to four weeks at the Volcani Water and Soil Conservation Center in Israel, where he will learn how to cope with the problematic contaminated landfills and water supplies on his farm.

“We are also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the State of Israel today,” Stein, who organized the succah project, said upon presenting the award. “No two states have more in common than Israel and New York. Therefore it is only fitting that in the City of New York, with the largest Jewish population, that we have the largest succah and celebrate Israel’s 40th anniversary.”

‘SUCCAT SHALOM: TABERNACLE OF PEACE’

The succah, which measures 80 by 60 ft., was named “Succat Shalom: Tabernacle of Peace,” commemorating the 40 years of friendship between Israel and New York and expressing the hope for future peace in the Middle East.

“No people want peace more than the people of Israel or have done more for peace,” said Israel’s UN Ambassador, Binyamin Netanyahu, who also addressed the approximately 350 people present. “The one thing that has changed for Jews in this century is that they have taken control of their own destiny with the founding of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu added that in his opinion no succah has ever captured the mood of the Israeli people as much as this “Succat Shalom,” which was filled with various exhibits representing many of Israel’s different accomplishments since it was founded in 1948.

On display were Israeli products, such as a Carmel Cabernet Blanc 1986, which is produced entirely from grapes grown in Israel’s Samson region; sugar-and-chocolate coated almonds and hazelnuts from Kibbutz Geva in Israel; and Motorola Israel computer systems, designed to help control irrigation and perform other agricultural needs. Also available was paraphernalia regarding Third World development, specifically that augmented by projects coming out of Israel. Ben Gurion University of the Negev is involved in a series of projects providing certain Third World countries with dry environments similar to that of the Negev desert, with information about innovative agricultural developments.

Following the ceremony, the succah was opened to the general public, crowding the already-packed succah even more. The guests were invited to browse, while listening to live Israeli music and eating from an assortment of Israeli salads and drinking Israeli wine.

The succah, which was built by New York yeshiva high school students, is decorated with murals depicting the Succoth holiday, painted by New York artist Knox Martin and Israeli artist Ilan Raviv. Open from 11:00 a.m. till sunset, the succah will be available for public use through Oct. 16th, when other art works of Raviv and Martin will be on show.

“Through this succah we hope to reach thousands of New York metropolitan area Jews and help enhance their celebration of the important Succoth holiday,” said real estate developer Jeffrey Glick, who contributed the land for the succah site. “I’d like to start a tradition,” he added.

The event was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York as part of a much larger year-long celebration of Israel’s 40th anniversary. The program will include events sponsored by every Borough President, Mayor Ed Koch, universities and others, according to project director Lori Posin. “All New Yorkers should participate,” she said, “not just Jews.”

CLARIFICATION: The official United Nations vote Tuesday against an amendment that would exclude Israel from the UN General Assembly was 80-39 with 10 abstentions and 29 absences. But the absent countries have unlimited time to cast a vote, and Israel expects a final tally of 88 or 89-40 or 41.

Because of Sh’mini Atzereth, there will be no Daily News Bulletin dated Friday, Oct. 16.

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