(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The Tu Bishvat tradition of planting trees was initiated by the writer, researcher and historian Zeev Yavetz, who arrived in the Land of Israel in 1887 and became Principal of the Zichron Yaakov School. When the moshava was founded, educators in the Land of Israel felt a need to renew Jewish settlement in the country by planting trees. In 1892, on Tu BiShvat (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat), Yavetz went out to plant trees in Zichron Yaakov with his pupils, and a new tradition was born: on this day of the year Israeli children go out to plant trees. The Teachers Union and KKL-JNF formalized the custom in 1908, and provided it with an extra educational dimension. In this way children were given the opportunity to play an active role in the development of the Land of Israel and the care of its landscape.
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 and develop into trees that will provide fresh green areas for Israel’s residents and help to combat global warming and conserve the environment.