Tens of thousands of visitors to the Israel Pavilion at EXPO 2015 in Milan have been getting a taste of Israel…and loving it. Individuals and groups get to learn about how Israel contributes to feeding the world and creating energy for life - the central theme of EXPO 2015 – through 3D movies and displays, real-life installations and multidirectional effects. According to visitors' feedback, the Israel Pavilion and its KKL-JNF compound have opened eyes, minds and hearts.
The Israel Pavilion, which covers an area of 2,369 meters, is designed to immerse the visitor in a powerful visual experience, which describes the miracle of Israel's agricultural and forestry engineering, from its humble beginnings
in the arid lands and swamps to its becoming an eco-agri powerhouse
in the 21st century and beyond.
For the tens of thousands of visitors, the Israel Pavilion has been something of an eye opener.
KKL Italy's Altea Soued, who takes groups on guided tours of the KKL-JNF compound and Israel Pavilion, introduces us to some of the many groups that have come to visit.
On June 2nd, for example, a group of 25 students from the Pietro Antonio Strozzi Agricultural Institute of Mantova visited the Israel Pavilion, accompanied by their teacher Mr. Sergio Avanzini. As an agricultural institute, the school was very interested in what KKL-JNF does for Israel and showed also a lot of interest in the vertical field, a key feature at the pavilion, which consists of a wall, 70 meters long and 12 meters high, fully covered with living plants and grains, whose flowers and colors change with the passing of the seasons.
"They already knew most of the things that I've explained them because their teacher, Mr. Avanzini, explained them everything before coming to the EXPO but everyone said that the pavilion is beautiful," said Altea Soued. "They've loved the first room - which tells the story of KKL-JNF's reforestation of Israel
using a 3D movie and multidirectional effects - and they said that they didn't know that the cherry tomatoes were an Israeli invention."
The Israel Pavilion also became Saturday night entertainment for many on May 29th, when it hosted a DJ set. "For the first time, the EXPO closed at midnight", said Soued.
Among the numerous groups that have visited the Israel Pavilion were a group of 30 from the Pitigliani Italian Jewish Community Center in Rome, which came on June 1st. "The group said that they are very close with KKL-JNF and love what the organization does for Israel," Soued said.
Aside from the agricultural and Jewish heritage aspects of the Israel pavilion, many people expressed interest in the entrepreneurial aspect. A group of 18 from the Association of Italian Entrepreneurs of the Principality of Monaco (Aiim) visited the Israel Pavilion on June 4th. Altea Soued, who took them on a guided tour, said that the group was greatly impressed. Many said that "all the countries should do the same things that KKL-JNF does for Israel," she related. "Most of them have already been to Israel and know a lot about the country but didn't know about all of the things that we explained to them."
At the entrance to the Israel pavilion, visitors are greeted by a giant interactive digital totem pole, with touch screens in all directions. On it, visitors can enter to win a trip to Israel, register to receive KKL-JNF updates from Israel and participate online in planting the EXPO forest in Israel. As of June 10th, over 6,000 people have contributed to planting the EXPO forest, and several thousand more have signed up for the Win a trip to Israel raffle, which will be an opportunity to experience for themselves the young, innovative Israel which at the same time embraces its 3,000 years of tradition.
"We've already finished the second guest book and we are going to replace it with a new one," Soued reported. "All the visitors love it and want to leave their positive comments about the pavilion. Most of the comments are related to the fact that our pavilion is one of the best, because it really represents the EXPO theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life".