Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich has given a “significant” donation towards planting a new Israeli forest in memory of Lithuanian Jews killed during the Holocaust.
Keren Kayemet L’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) said the billionaire’s gift would “help combat the effects of climate change in the Middle East”.
The money will also help pay for the upkeep and maintenance of Israel’s existing forests, some of which were damaged by wildfires several years ago, with most of KKL-JNF’s work focused in southern Israel, particularly around the Negev.
Almost 250 Holocaust survivors joined Lithuanian Ambassador Lina Antanavičienė at the inauguration of the new forest commemorating Lithuanian Jewry during a ceremony held during the Jewish Tu-Bishvat celebration of nature, amidst a backdrop of southern Israel in bloom.
KKL-JNF chair Daniel Atar praised the “generous support” of Israeli resident Abramovich “especially in these days of growing concerns over global warming”.
A virtual commemorative platform was also launched to act as “a virtual memorial in tribute of the Lithuanian Jews who perished in the Holocaust… It allows people from all over the world to name a virtual tree in memory of the lost Lithuanian Jewry, with the help of a growing, searchable database of names forming a memorial wall”.