Tu BiShvat Ceremony with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Signs of the wildfires that blazed around Haifa in November can still be plainly seen in the woodlands on the outskirts of the city. Nonetheless, a little green has begun to creep back into the damaged areas, thanks to the planting events in celebration of Tu BiShvat.
“There is no more appropriate a place to celebrate Tu BiShvat than here in Haifa,” declared President Reuven Rivlin.
“The spate of fires caused damage all over the country, but Haifa suffered the most. We need a great deal of strength to set out and build things up all over again. But by planting trees we have helped nature, in all its wondrous variety, to begin to renew itself.”
KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar told those present how KKL-JNF’s firefighting teams had battled to save the forests and the diverse wildlife that lives in them, and had fought to rescue every possible tree.
“KKL-JNF will continue to stand by you and help you,” he promised the residents of Haifa. “We shall paint Mount Carmel green once more, and the brown burnt areas from the fire will disappear. And we shall do this everywhere, all over the country.”
Jewish and Arab schoolchildren from all over the city came to take part in the planting event, side by side. Among them were Shahar Zechariah, an eighth-grader from Haifa’s Leo Baeck School, and Malbus Shimberi, from Al-Hiwar School, whose name means “Dialogue” in Arabic.
“Tu BiShvat symbolizes our love for the land and our connection to nature,” explained Shahar. “Our city can serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of the country. We children have the strength to build bridges between all the different sections of society, without politics.”
Malbus shared the emotions she had experienced when she saw her hometown going up in flames: “My heart was sore, and I couldn’t understand how it was possible to burn such a beautiful forest so cruelly. Today we’re overcoming our difficulties and encouraging new growth,” she said.
Watch video on the rehabilitative plantings in Haifa with President Reuven Rivlin