Tu Bishvat gets 'shmita' treatment

The "Jewish New Year for the trees" falls on Tuesday, although activities marking the holiday started over the weekend.

cedar tree 88 (photo credit:)
cedar tree 88
(photo credit: )
Tu Bishvat will be celebrated this year without the traditional tree-plantings, because of the shmita sabbatical year, when Jews are commanded to let the Land of Israel lie fallow. Nonetheless, there are plenty of alternative activities lined up. The "Jewish New Year for the trees" falls on Tuesday, although activities marking the holiday started over the weekend. Here are some suggestions; they are free of charge unless otherwise noted: • More than 1 million people participate in tree-planting activities organized by the Jewish National Fund each year. This time around, the JNF invites the public to plant a tree on-line. Each costs NIS 18 and the actual planting will be carried out by JNF foresters in 2009. For more information visit www.kkl.org.il. • On Tuesday, the JNF is holding Tu Bishvat seders, starting at 3 p.m., at three tree nurseries across the country: the Lavi Forest in the North; Eshtaol Forest in the center of the country; and Gilat Forest in the South. For more information call 1-800-350-550. • Also on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Municipality and 101 FM Radio invite the public to the capital's annual Tu Bishvat celebration in the Mahaneh Yehuda market, from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. The market's streets will be filled with jugglers, magicians, dancers, singers and musicians. In addition, there will be a traditional Tu Bishvat seder in the Iraqi market starting at 1 p.m., and 101 FM Radio will host artists and singers including Regev Hod, Ron Shoval and Liran Tal. • Finally, the Ashdod Municipality and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel invite the public to bird-watching tours and activities from 7 a.m.-11 a.m., also on Tuesday. Bring binoculars and meet at the parking lot behind Gan Etgarim. On Friday, the JNF hosted Celebrations in Forests events, the Spice Farm in the Galilee invited visitors to tour its fields, and the Society for the Protection of Nature and the ALMA Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv offered environmental educational activities. Yokne'am, located in the Jezreel Valley, invited the public to fish and participate in assorted workshops on Friday and Saturday. Jerusalem's Ein Yael Active Museum held workshops for the entire family on Saturday, including paper recycling, ceramics, flower-planting in flower pots, vegetation-inspired mosaic and fresco projects and perfume production, and the Mount Carmel Public Forum for Sustainable Development, together with the Society for the Protection of Nature, held its the annual Tu Bishvat celebration in Haifa's Gan Shmuel.