Jerusalem, Israel - May 28, 2024  - With Lag B'Omer immediately after Shabbos this year, the large bonfires traditional in Israel were going strong for two nights. For some, after Shabbos, but for others even through the day, until late Sunday night, the large fires could be found burning.

Fire safety is important with the dry grasses and strong winds of the season. Protecting the forest spaces from wildfires caused by carelessness is crucial. This year no major fires were reported.

In one new initiative, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel have connected with a communal forest project. Residents and visitors from nearby neighborhoods can enjoy the quality of life in a green space, along with cultural and leisure activities.

The essence of the project is the collaboration between the community, KKL-JNF, and nature. KKL-JNF oversees building the forest and equipping it with amenities like picnic tables, benches, shade, bicycle and walking trails, and more, while the residents of the community, called "Forest Deputies" are in charge of keeping the forest clean, safe, and available for all to enjoy. Forest Deputies are involved and active residents of the community, both in the construction process and in planning and accompanying the activities in the community forest. 

Anat Gold Director of the Central Region in KKL-JNF: "This project exposes the community to a deeper connection with their neighborhood forest and nature while being adjusted to the special characteristics and unique needs of the community. The project is giving the members of the community a chance to be a part of a positive and 'green' influence on the residents of the neighborhood, their education, leisure activity, and surroundings while preserving the residents' local traditions. We hope to continue spreading this project in more neighborhoods across the country, and positively influence communities to go out in nature and preserve the forests in Israel."

Michael Karpuch, Manager of the youth division at the Maale Ramot community and KKL-JNF community forest representative: "We see, for example, how children who suffer from ADHD suddenly cooperate in the forest, listen, enjoy and learn important values related, among other things, to protecting the environment like drawing classes, ODT activities and field cooking classes during which a special bonding interaction is created between the children".

It is hoped with the continuing education of children in Ramot the forests below will be better protected from careless wildfires this summer.