The Israel Pavilion at EXPO 2015 in Milan has opened with great fanfare and is being enthusiastically received by the public, with over 22 thousand visitors in its first week. The Israel Pavilion, which is co-sponsored by the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs and KKL-JNF, shows this small country's astonishing advances in agriculture, forestry, technology and society building, under the banner 'Fields of Tomorrow'.
A visitor approaching the Israel Pavilion, which is located next to the Italian Pavilion at the intersection between the main thoroughfares the Cardo and the Decumano, is greeted by an enormous vertical field, on which wheat, corn and rice are being planted, demonstrating the vertical planting technology which enables crops to be grown on slopes with minimal amounts of water.
The pavilion, which was designed by architect David Knafo and constructed by Avant Video Systems with 100% recyclable materials, also features multiple multimedia installations, information stations, a space for events and conferences, and a restaurant dishing up Israeli favorites such as falafel, humus and shakshuka.
The exhibitions on display include the stories of three generations of farmers who helped make the deserts bloom, KKL-JNF's revolutionary forestry and afforestation work, and agricultural technologies such as drip irrigation, digital field management using satellites, and livestock management. Visitors also get to learn about life in Israel through an exhibit on Tel Aviv nightlife and the lives of young Israelis today.
A moving highlight of Israel Pavilion's first week was the mezuzah ceremony, in which Jewish community leader Mr. Henry Maknouz affixed mezuzahs containing hand-scribed parchments of the Jewish shema prayer as a blessing for protection and success on the office doors of the pavilion.
The impact of the EXPO is already noticed at KKL-JNF EXPO internet site, with thousands of visitors to the Pavilion signing up online to help plant the EXPO forest in Israel, and visitors entering an online competition to win a free trip to Israel.
The Israel Pavilion has hosted a wide variety of visitors so far, including school groups, journalists, university students and business leaders. The exhibition has already received a lot of attention in the Italian media, with visitors giving the Israel Pavilion glowing reviews.