The Tu Bishvat tradition of planting trees was initiated by writer, researcher and historian Ze’ev Yavetz, who arrived in the Land of Israel in 1887 and became principal of the Zichron Ya’acov School. In 1892, on Tu Bishvat, he went out to plant trees in Zichron Ya’acov with his pupils, and a new tradition was born.
The Teachers’ Union and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund formalized the custom in 1908 and provided it with an extra educational dimension.
Children were given the opportunity to play an active role in the development of the Land of Israel and the care of its landscape.
With the dawn of Jewish agricultural settlement in Israel, land was purchased throughout the country to promote the development of Jewish farming. It was during this period that the expression “redeeming lands” was coined, and working the land was considered a great virtue.
The custom of planting trees at Tu Bishvat appeared at this time: In 1904, Prof. Otto Warburg proposed establishing a Zionist fund for the purpose of planting olive trees on lands redeemed by KKL-JNF. That year, Zionism founder Theodor Herzl died, and it was decided that the Olive Fund should be used to plant a forest that would be named after him. Planting began in 1908 on KKL-JNF land in Ben-Shemen at the site known today as Herzl Forest. In 1905, the Land of Israel Teachers’ Union declared Tu Bishvat a tree-planting festival in schools throughout the country. Large crowds turned out to attend the planting ceremonies, which were reported in Jewish communities abroad. And so began this wonderful Israeli tree-planting enterprise that continues to be an annual tradition.
The tree-planting tradition that was renewed and fostered by KKL-JNF has become the main event that characterizes Tu Bishvat celebrations in Israel. Participation in tree-planting ceremonies strengthens people’s connection to the land and makes them partners in the effort to conserve the environment.
Every year on Tu Bishvat, thousands of people take part in the festive plantings organized by KKL-JNF all over the country.
Large numbers of saplings are planted in KKL-JNF forests and woodlands in the course of the holiday. With time, they will grow into trees that will provide fresh green areas for Israel’s residents and help to combat global warming and conserve the environment.
Here are some of the KKL-JNF events that are taking place this year to celebrate Tu Bishvat in nature.
A song in my heart and a tree in my hand
Tree-planting for groups, today, by appointment only KKL-JNF foresters invite the public to take part in a tree-planting celebration in forests that were chosen according to annual tree-planting programs. Groups interested in taking part in tree-planting events throughout the country can call the KKL-JNF information hotline to register, get details about venues and schedule an appointment.
By advance registration only. The number of participants is limited. Free. Advance registration required at Kav Laya’ar, the KKL-JNF information hotline, 1-800-350-550
Partying with the plants
Games and flowerpot planting at KKL-JNF plant nurseries in Gilat, Eshtaol and Golani Today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Track the life of a sapling from seed collection until it leaves the plant nursery and goes to live in the forest. A day of fun, including planting a sapling in a pot to take home. Activities and sapling distribution will take place at the KKL-JNF plant nursery south of the Golani Junction in the Galilee, at the Eshtaol plant nursery near Shimshon Junction, and at the KKL-JNF plant nursery in Gilat in the Negev. The Golani nursery will also be open tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free, with advance registration at Kav Laya’ar, 1-800-350-550
Tu Bishvat night
Hike by light and festive Seder in the Ilanot Forest in the Sharon, today at 6 p.m.
There will be a special three-hour event at the National Arboretum in the Ilanot Forest in the Sharon region. First there will be a walk on an accessible trail that passes through the collection of trees that were brought from the four corners of the world to the arboretum, which was founded in the 1950s. During the walk, participants will hear fascinating stories about trees. After about an hour, there will be a gathering in the building that serves as the Israel Forest Museum, where participants will sit around a holiday table and have a Tu Bishvat Seder. The number of participants is limited.
NIS 50 per participant; NIS 40 for e-yarok members. Advance registration required at Kav Laya’ar, 1-800-350-550.
Hike and plant
Hike for experienced walkers and tree planting in KKL-JNF forests, tomorrow, in the Carmel Forest and the Devira Forest Join KKL-JNF guides and foresters on a hike for experienced walkers on forest trails, and plant a tree – one tree per family. Walk among the trees and take part in festive treeplanting activities. The three-hour tour is only for those who are not afraid of a little mud.
Route details and meeting times are available upon registration. Suitable for families and groups that register in advance.
Free, with advance registration at Kav Laya’ar, 1- 800-350-550.
Plant and drive
Tree-planting experience in KKL-JNF forests tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join KKL-JNF foresters on their holiday by planting trees in the forests and parks – in northern Israel at the Beit Keshet Forest (access from the entrance to the Shimshon army base west of the Golani Junction) and in central Israel at the Ben-Shemen Forest in Modi’in Park (access from Highway 443 at the entrance to the Modi’in Technology Park). One sapling per family as long as the plants last.
Free. For more information, call Kav Layaar at 1- 800-350-550.
Experience color and nature
Forest festival in the Ben-Shemen Forest, Saturday at 10 a.m.
Join KKL-JNF tour guides and KKL-JNF National Service volunteers for a forest adventure.
Activities for all ages, related to trees, wildlife and KKL-JNF forests. At the Carbon Calculator Corner, participants can calculate how many new trees are needed to cover the annual activities of one family in the world’s carbon and oxygen “bank account,” to return trees to the environment, to participate in forest games and more. The activity does not include tree planting. However, each child will be able to decorate a flowerpot, fill it with soil and plant a sapling that was especially prepared in a KKLJNF plant nursery.
Free. Advance registration required at Kav Laya’ar, the KKL-JNF information hotline, 1-800-350-550.
Open day in the Central Arava
Visit the R&D Station in Hatzeva, January 30 and 31
The Yair Station for agricultural research in Hatzeva, in the central Arava, is having an Open Day that will showcase its innovative agricultural achievements and research. The public is invited to get acquainted with the research and to join tours guided by scientists and guides from the central and northern Arava R&D station.
Free. For more information, call the offices of the Arava R&D at (08) 658-1083.