On December 29, 1901 the Fifth Zionist Congress decided to establish the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). The ensuing question was: how to spread this news to the Jewish People, who were scattered throughout the world? Johann Kremenetzky, the first Chairman of KKL-JNF had an idea. He printed a stamp at a print shop in Vienna, with the intention of distributing it among Jews around the world. The stamp featured a Star of David with the word “Zion” in the center. Branches adorned the sides of the stamp and sunrays emerged from it as if to herald a new dawn. The stamp was designed by Ephraim Lilien, a gifted artist and enthusiastic Zionist.
In total, thirty million of these stamps, known as the “Zion Stamp”, were printed in 18 different countries. Jews would place them next to the official postal stamps of the countries in which they lived. The Zion Stamp was a significant way of spreading the Zionist idea throughout the world.
, the KKL-JNF has served as the arm of Zionism in Eretz Israel, a the emissary of the Jewish People in their homeland. Its task is to identify the national objectives facing the State of Israel and to recruit the Jewish People to participate in achieving those goals. The central objective is to sustainably develop the land and to preserve our natural resources for future generations.
As the State of Israel’s official forester, the KKL-JNF has planted more than 240 million trees and made Israel green. These forests provide incomparable ecological and social services. They improve the Israeli landscape, rid the air of pollutants, absorb greenhouse gasses, prevent soil erosion and provide Israelis with places to enjoy nature. In the areas under its authority the KKL-JNF provides bike paths, picnic areas, bird watching points and heritage sites. And all free of charge.
The KKL-JNF invests vast resources toward improving the quality of life for Israel’s inhabitants. This is done through the establishment of large regional parks such as Ben Gurion Park in Dimona, Yeruham Park, Britannia Park near Beit Shemesh and Rabin Park on the way to Jerusalem. The KKL-JNF also greatly assists outlying towns by preparing the ground for agriculture and for residential communities, by developing reservoirs that provide half of the water needed for agriculture in Israel, and by supporting agricultural research and development. Alongside the outlying towns’ agricultural fields the KKL-JNF security roads. And in order to diversify employment opportunities in the Negev and the Galilee, KKL-JNF is creating an infrastructure for ecological tourism and rural
Before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the KKL-JNF functioned as the Ministry of Education for Eretz Israel, developing educational programs and reshaping the Shavuot and Tu BeShvat holiday festivities. Today the KKL-JNF continues to create educational programs for the formal and informal education systems, for Israeli youths and Zionist youths abroad. The KKL-JNF is patron to pre-military preparatory programs and thousands of youths participate in the scouting activities it operates throughout Israel. One of the organization’s unique initiatives is the “KKL-JNF Houses” – multidisciplinary spaces operated in outlying towns that offer afternoon and evening enrichment programs. The KKL-JNF Houses provide an inspiring technological education environment, based on each student’s needs and an opportunity for empowering activities in their free time.
The KKL-JNF serves as a bridge between the Jewish world and the Jewish homeland in Israel. Through its , located in some 45 countries, the KKL-JNF strengthens the alliance between Jews around the world and the State of Israel and helps new Olim get settled in their new homeland. Thus, the message spread by the Zion Stamp 120 years ago continues to be realized before our eyes in Jewish communities worldwide.
The New Zion Stamp
On the 120th anniversary of the establishment of KKL-JNF, the Israel Post Philatelic Service is issuing an updated Zion Stamp, a tribute to the founding fathers and their prophetic vision, upon which Zionism is based. Like the original stamp, the new version features a Star of David, sunrays and the word Zion. In addition, new elements have been added to reflect the innovation that characterizes KKL-JNF’s current operations in fields such as environmental resources, promoting agricultural and settlement, innovation in forestry research and renewable energy, the water sector, and much more.