Outside and on-line, Tu Bishvat gets off to an early start

Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shvat and the Jewish New Year of the trees, this year falls on Saturday.

apricots dried fruit 88 (photo credit: )
apricots dried fruit 88
(photo credit: )
Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shvat and the Jewish New Year of the trees, this year falls on Saturday. But because of Shabbat there are festivities scheduled for Friday all over the country. The public can choose from a variety of activities, including planting and virtual planting, a food market in Ofakim, an "Environmental Hyde Park" in Tel Aviv and plenty of family activities. Here are several suggestions. The KKL (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) invites the public to celebrate the holiday Friday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., by rehabilitating the northern forests which were damaged in the Lebanon war. Participants are welcome to plant a tree and enjoy short guided tours in three locations: Mishmar Hanegev Forests in the South (on Route 31 between the Eshel Hanasi and Lehavim junctions); the Eshtaol Forest in the Center (entrance from the Eshtaol nursery on Route 44 from Hartuv Junction to Nahshon junction), and at the Biriya forest in upper Galilee in the North (entrance from Safed to the Kiryat Sara neighborhood and from there to the Biriya Fortress). All events are free of charge and include activities for children with familiar characters from the Children's Channel. For more details call 1-800-350-550 or check the KKL's Web site: www.kkl.org.il, where the public can also plant virtual trees. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel invites the public to the Hurshot Park in southern Tel Aviv, to plant trees (between 09:00 and 12:00), to clean the park and enjoy a drummers' circle while rehabilitating the urban grove. Afterwards, the public is invited to join a "Environmental Hyde Park" event on Sderot Rothschild, also organized by the New Israel Fund and Tel Aviv Municipality. Visitors are invited to deliver a speech and express themselves on environmental topics and to participate in a green creativity workshop. For more Tu Bishvat events: www.teva.org.il • A group of 30 women from the southern city of Ofakim invites the public to visit their ethnic food market every Friday from today until March 9 at the beautiful Patish fortress, located in the city's national park. The market is a part of a shared project with the Jewish Agency for empowering women through traditional, cultural and gastronomic assets. Another idea for those who cannot get out for the day is to participate in the Jewish Agency live, joint and global Tu Bishvat Seder by typing www.jewishagency.org and clicking the "Jewish-Zionist Education" link. Via video conferencing, student participants from communities in the Diaspora will plant trees in the forests of Mount Gilboa together with Israeli students. Colleagues and friends of farmer Shai Dromi, who is in custody after shooting and killing a Beduin intruder, invite the public to take a part in a planting event at Dromi's farm from 10 a.m. The organizers said the event marks the importance of settling in Israel. Olive trees will be planted on Dromi's farm, near Meitar. Details and driving instructions at: www.shai-dromi.org.il Finally, another indoor activity: Tzohar, the Zionist rabbis' organization, invites the public to download a special Haggada for Tu Bishvat from its Web site. This explains the holiday's origin, details Tu Bishvat customs, offers suggestions on how to celebrate it with children, other topics for discussion, Hebrew tree songs, family games and more. The offerings can be found at www.tzohar.org.il