JNF Connects Students with the Land of Israel on Tu B'Shevat
New nationwide raffle offers a free ticket to Israel
Contact: Sarit Schonbrun • JNF Communications Manager • 212-879-9305 ext. 222 • firstname.lastname@example.org
December 28, 2005 New York, NY- On February 13, 2006, the holiday of Tu B’Shevat will come alive for students across the country who participate in Jewish National Fund’s annual “Tu B’Shevat in the Schools” educational program.
Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees, falls on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat and marks the time when trees begin to drink in the rainfall of the new year. It is a celebration of spring’s rebirth and renewal, and an appreciation of the interconnectedness of man and nature.
"Over the years, this holiday has taken on the theme of planting trees in Israel, making it JNF's holiday," said Bob Levine, JNF's National Vice President for Education. "Perhaps no other organization is as strongly associated with a holiday as JNF is with Tu B'Shevat. Over the past 105 years, Jews have come together to plant over 240 million trees through JNF, providing luscious belts of green covering more than 250,000 acres of land in Israel."
“Tu B’Shevat in the Schools” gives children the opportunity to reinforce their connection and dedication to the land of Israel by planting trees in honor or in memory of someone special. JNF will provide tree envelopes for each student in participating schools. The first planting is $18, and each additional tree is only $10. Students and honorees will receive specially designed certificates commemorating the plantings.
New to the program this year are two exciting contests. Students who order at least one $18 tree will be entered into a nationwide raffle for a free ticket to Israel. Each school that has either 25% student participation or submits $2,000 worth of tree orders will be entered into a separate raffle for another ticket to Israel. Last year, 7,091 students from more than 860 schools participated in JNF’s “Tu B’Shevat in the Schools” program.
Additional materials to be sent to schools include posters and copies of the Tu B’Shevat issue of JNF’s educational newsletters -- A New Leaf for students in grades 1-4 and Growing Up!, a new version for students in grades 5-8.
Participating schools may also order JNF’s special Haggadah, Branching Out, which they can use to conduct a Tu B’Shevat Seder. This tradition dates back to the 17th century, when the Kabbalists developed a Seder for the holiday that was modeled after the ritualistic Passover meal. The custom includes four cups of wine and foods that are symbolic of the four levels of physical and spiritual life taught by the Kabbalists.
“We have been participating in ‘Tu B’Shevat in the Schools’ for around ten years and have taken our Seder to a new level,” said Ilana Davidov, Education Director of The Sylvia and Harry Halpern Religious School at the Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle, New York. “Supporting Israel and the welfare of the Jewish state is not only a school agenda for us, it is a congregational agenda. Our Tu B’Shevat Seder is open to the entire congregation, and there are usually 300-350 people in attendance. Many of our congregants take materials with them and conduct their own Seders at home.”
Judaism teaches us to have great respect for nature. The Torah instructs that a tree’s fruit may not be eaten during the first four years of its life. Tu B’Shevat, the start of the New Year for trees, is the marker by which a tree’s age is determined. Tu B'Shevat embodies the strong dedication to ecology, environmentalism and conservation that JNF has always championed.
Caption: Students from The Ramaz School enjoy a Tu B'Shevat Seder. (Photo available as high-res jpeg upon request.)
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.