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Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav has decided to bring back the old-time Jewish National Fund collection "blue boxes" to the city's schools. The objective is to collect funds for rehabilitating the forests in the North that were destroyed during last summer's war in Lebanon, and to strengthen the pupils' connection with nature.

According to estimates by the JNF, damage amounting to some NIS 80 million was caused to the forests in the North during the hostilities. Experts say it will take decades to restore the trees that were damaged.

The blue box was found in Jewish homes and in schools throughout the country for decades and was a popular vehicle for donating money for planting trees. However, the boxes gradually disappeared from the schools.

Speaking at an exhibition of the boxes in Haifa at the beginning of the week, Yahav said: "After the war, I went to visit the Galilee and was horrified to see the burned trees. We have to plant the country's forest anew." He said that, more than collecting funds, the boxes were intended to make pupils aware of their connection to nature and "to paint the country green."

The contributions will be collected by JNF workers. The JNF and the Haifa Municipality are also planning a series of events in which pupils from the northern city will participate in trimming damaged trees and planting saplings in the forests near Haifa.