Children get close to the land on Tu Bishvat, 2005.
(photo credit: JOE MALCOLM)
Tu Bishvat has a beauty of its own – a time when we continue to ensure that our land will grow and develop through afforestation. What most people are unaware of is that the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund uses the money collected to purchase land and develop the land for settlement. Where the JNF goes, the Jewish people follows.When Theodor Herzl made his first and only visit to the homeland of his people in November 1898, planting a cypress tree in Motza just outside Jerusalem was a dramatic highlight that captured his imagination. He described it in his diary. Herzl had come to Eretz Yisrael hoping to meet German Kaiser Wilhelm, who was also in the Holy Land. Visiting various parts of the country, Herzl traveled from the coastal settlements of Mikve Israel and Rishon Lezion toward Jerusalem. His entourage stopped at a small community named Motza. He and those traveling with him entered the village to a warm welcome and reception. When the sun started to set, Herzl looked out at the land of Judea and saw “a variety of lights of brilliant colors reflected upon its hills.” He knew that he had to plant a tree here so he climbed the hill and placed a young cypress tree in the earth.