Be 'fruitful' but careful on Tu Bishvat

Since it is the shmita year the JNF won't plant trees, but is organizing various events in the country's forests and accepting money.

hike in north 88 (photo credit: )
hike in north 88
(photo credit: )
While enjoying Tu Bishvat, the 'Jewish new year for trees' which is marked Monday night and Tuesday, Israelis - especially parents of young children - should take care to ensure safety. The minor holiday on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat was set in ancient times as the day determining when tithes are given for the coming year, but it was adopted half a millennium ago by Kabbalists to promote appreciation of the Seven Species native to the land, and in the early 20th century by the Jewish National Fund to encourage tree planting and land development. Since this year is the shmita year, the JNF will not plant any trees, but it is organizing various hikes and other events in the country's forests and accepting money via its Web site ( for trees that will be planted after the sabbatical year. Beterem, the Israel National Center for Child Safety and Health, notes that small pieces of nuts and dried fruit sampled on the holiday can pose a choking danger to young children. Last year, at least 42 children choked on foreign objects, and 19 of them were harmed due to aspiration of food into their trachea or lungs. Seven of those who choked died as a result. Children aged one to four are in the most danger of choking on foreign objects, says Beterem. Babies and toddlers who lack teeth for chewing and whose swallowing mechanism is not yet mature are in danger from ingesting small pieces of food. Round pieces that "sit" exactly on top of the windpipe are very dangerous, as are smooth ones that slide over the top of the esophagus. Sticky pieces of fruit adhere to the trachea and are difficult to remove. Children under five should not be given peanuts, seeds and other foods that absorb liquids in the throat and swell. Dried fruits, including raisins, figs, apricots and dates, as well as nuts, must also be avoided for safety reasons. Apples and carrots, which are hard, should be cut into tiny pieces or cooked before being fed to young children. Grapes should be cut in half, and if they have seeds, these should be removed in advance.