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Tu B’shvat in Israel

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Immigrants arriving at Ben Gurion Airport this week — the week of Tu B’Shvat — are being greeted with baskets of fruit and nuts. Those already living in absorption centers are being encouraged, by the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency to go out in organized groups into the countryside and plant trees. The 15th of Shvat is cited in the Talmud as the “new year for trees.”

It is a widely celebrated holiday in Israel, marked by religious and secular alike. Kindergartens and junior schools in particular make much of the day, organizing outings for the youngsters and putting on plays with bucolic, pastoral themes.

On the “Castel” hill outside Jerusalem, scene of bloody battles in the War of Independence, the JNF arranged today the planting of 3000 saplings as the start of a forest dedicated to the soldiers who fought and fell at the site.

Among other activities arranged by the JNF were: tree planting by teachers at a new forest outside Jerusalem marking the 75th jubilee of the Teachers Union. Moshe Rivlin, JNF chairman, and union president Shalom Levin attended this event. At Gush Etzion, midway between Jerusalem and Hebron, thousands of school children took part in planting ceremonies, along with tourists and new immigrants; at Yamit, despite its precarious political situation, new trees were planted; in the Galilee, a major planting event took place close to Kiryat Shemona, at a forest dedicated to Jewish-Druze friendship.

Other ceremonies in the north had to be curtailed because recent heavy rainfall had rendered the approach roads inaccessible.

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