Monthly News from JNF’s Advocacy & Education Department: Tu BiShvat Edition

February 10, 2020/Tu BiShvat 5780

 

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Today we celebrate Tu BiShvat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, the new year of the trees.  While it is winter in the United States, in Israel the rainy season is ending and spring is beginning.  Before we know it, the kalanit (wildflowers) will begin to bloom from north to south throughout Israel and the country will be blanketed in beautiful colors.  Today in Israel you will find many Israelis, especially schoolchildren, planting trees throughout the land.  Jewish National Fund is proud to have planted over 260 million trees in Israel to protect the land, prevent soil erosion, cultivate the landscape, and preserve vital ecosystems.  JNF’s success at planting trees in Israel has resulted in naturally expanded forests, transforming the desert into a lush bed of green.

 

Today and throughout this week, JNF is celebrating Tu BiShvat in communities across the country.  We are proud to say that over 500 preschools, day schools, religious schools, and others are teaching about this important environmental holiday and getting back to our “roots” by planting trees in Israel.  

 

“Tu BiShvat reminds us that no matter what happens, we all have to share this planet and care for it,” said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of Jewish National Fund-USA. “Over the years, Tu BiShvat has taken on the theme of planting trees in Israel, making it JNF’s holiday. Perhaps no other organization is as strongly associated with a holiday as JNF is with Tu BiShvat.”

 

D'var Torah: The Forest and the Trees – Tu BiShvat 5780

Rabbi Leor Sinai, co-CEO, JNF’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel

 

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There’s that saying, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.“ In other words, keep your eye on the big picture and don’t get caught up in the details.  It is a true statement, as we — as leaders, members of communities, and citizens of Am Yisrael — must always keep our eyes on the prize.  However, we mustn’t ignore the trees for the forest either.  The trees, like our children, are our future.

 

On Tu BiShvat we are reminded of the story we read in the Talmud: 

 

Rabbi Yohanan said: “…One day Honi was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked, ‘How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit?' The man replied, ‘Seventy years.’ Honi then further asked him, ‘Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?’ The man replied, ‘I found [already grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted those for me so I too plant these for my children.’" 

 

At Jewish National Fund the big picture is literally and metaphorically in the trees – the details. We plant seeds for life, over 260,000,000 of them. 

 

We learn in Pirkei Avot, the Chapters of the Fathers, of ethics: “…one whose deeds exceed one’s wisdom, what is that person like? Like a tree whose branches are few, but whose roots are many; even if all the winds of the world were to come and blow upon it, they would not move it from its place.” 

 

Our role in this life is to ensure that our children have the knowledge and the conviction to forge their own link to the chain of Jewish continuity, so that their roots are deep, and no matter which winds blow their way, they will stand tall and strong.  

 

On Tu BiShvat, Rosh HaShanna La’Ilanot, the new year for the trees, we recall our people’s covenant with the land.  “HaShamayim L’Adonai v’HaAretz Natan L’vnei Adam” — the heavens are for G‑d and the land for humanity.  

 

At times we get to pick the fruit of our labor, though the fruit of our labor is to be enjoyed by our children.  Rabbi Tarfon teaches:  "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it."

 

Join us as we fulfill the greatest cause of our time.  Together we can teach our children and help deepen their roots, within our people, in the land of Israel. 

Tu BiShvat Message From Israeli Olympic Medalist Yarden Gerbi

Plant Trees With JNF and Your School Could Win Prizes!

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Sell trees in your school and win prizes!  Search for your school’s page here

 

If your school did not receive your own link to your tree campaign page, call 212.879.9305 x245 today and we will create one for you.

 

Schools that plant 100 trees or more ($1800+) will receive a special recognition listing at American Independence Park in Jerusalem. A certificate will also be sent to the school.

 

This year, each school that participates in our annual tree sales competition will be entered for a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Israel. In addition, based on your school’s volume of tree sales, you can earn cash prizes for your school. The more trees you plant, the bigger the prize money.

 

Prize levels are based on collective tree purchases for the whole school. Online tree sales and tree forms must be postmarked by Friday, February 28, 2020 to be included in our raffle and to win some great cash prizes!

 

PRIZE LEVELS:

Level 1*: Every school that plants 50 trees or more will receive $180.

Level 2*: Every school that plants 100 trees or more will receive $360.

Level 3*: Every school that plants 200 trees or more will receive $720.

*Please note that prizes are not cumulative.

Contest ends on Friday, February 28, 2020.

 

Another great way to participate and catch the Tu BiShvat spirit is by participating in our inaugural Yoga Tree Pose Challenge! Take a photo of yourself in a Yoga Tree Pose, post it on social media using the hashtags #TreesAreTrending and #PoweredByJNF, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. You will be helping to spread the word about how important trees are to the earth!

Did You Know?

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Beginning in 1990, there has been a Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service.  Throughout the past 30 years, they have collaborated on forest management issues common to both nations. This mutually beneficial partnership has included technical exchanges on fire, restoration, watershed management, recreation and other topics.  In addition, there has been a regular exchange of foresters, and every US Forestry Chief has visited Israel. Learn more about this partnership by listening to an interview with US Forestry Chief Vicki Christiansen, on IsraelCast, JNF’s podcast, released last Wednesday, February 5, 2020.  Listen here.

Tu BiShvat Teaching Resources

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We hope you received our Tu BiShvat box full of materials to teach this year’s theme, Making the Desert Bloom.  If you did not receive your box, or you are looking for additional resources, we have compiled a webpage with everything in one place.  Lesson plans, texts, science experiments, photos, videos, Tu BiShvat haggadot, and much more are all downloadable at www.jnf.org/TBS2020.

 

Please tell us how your Tu BiShvat went and share your pictures with us. Write us an email and attach your pictures and send to: [email protected].  We look forward to hearing from you!!

 

For more information on how you can get involved with Jewish National Fund, send us an email at [email protected] or give us a call 212.879.9305 x245.

PLANT TREES IN ISRAEL