Time for Tu Bishvat

Here are a few places to visit during the holiday.

KIBBUTZ YEHIAM (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On Monday, we will celebrate Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the Trees. This is the most eco-friendly Jewish holiday of the entire year and it’s the perfect time to go out into nature and enjoy the beautiful outdoors while the mountains and fields are full of blossoming flowers. In honor of Tu Bishvat, all of the nature reserves around Israel will be holding special celebrations and activities for the whole family. Here is a list of some of my most appealing options.
There is a custom to plant trees in the land of Israel on Tu Bishvat, and KKL-JNF will be holding a grand tree-planting event titled, “Planting for the Future,” in which residents of southern Israel will plant trees in honor of fellow Israelis in the North and vice versa. In addition, there will be free entry to a number of KKL-JNF Tu B’shvat activities around the country (pre-registration required). For example, there will be a guided tour at Golani Nursery in which participants will learn about the life cycle of plants from the moment seeds are gathered until seedlings are planted in forests. The tour includes a visit to the germination room and the greenhouse, as well as a workshop in which children can prepare a plant they can take home as a gift.
Location: Golani Nursery, near Golani Junction
Dates: Friday, January 18 to Monday, January 21
Info: (04) 847-0322
Guests attending the special Tu Bishvat celebration at Idan Hapri (The Age of Fruit) will get to experience the compelling link between nature, agriculture and people. Idan and Nadav, the owners of the company, will expand on the different stages a banana tree goes through before it is ready to bear fruit. Visitors can also partake in a tour of the banana grove, pick fruits, and watch how dried fruits are prepared naturally. Tours will begin on the hour. There will also be a selfie photo booth, games with gigantic fruit (memory, tic-tac-toe and domino) and a workshop using colorful recycled banana crates.
Dates: January 19 and 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: NIS 18
Info: 054-898-9061
Kids and adults alike will love participating in the challenging Escape Fortress at Kibbutz Yehiam. They will learn historical facts about the ancient Yehiam Fortress and about Zahir al-Umar, who was the ruler in the region in the 18th century. The game integrates lots of exciting technological devices and gadgets. There will also be special Tu Bishvat tours of the fortress.
Dates: January 18 to 21
Info: www.ozrothagalil.org.il, 077-230-8338
If you happen to find yourselves near Kiryat Gat on Friday, January 18, I highly recommend visiting the Beta Israel Village Project, which is the brainchild of the Hineni Society. There will be a special Tu Bishvat program in which visitors will hear about the history and heritage of Ethiopian Jews who crossed the desert on foot and finally made their way to Israel. Guests can participate in workshops involving ecological building with mud and clay, learn to write in Amharic, and discover how seeds sprout into seedlings.
Date: January 18, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Price: NIS 50
Info: (053) 711-9909, pre-registration recommended
The Spice Road Farm in Bethlehem of Galilee will be holding special touristic agricultural activities for the next three Saturdays, including rides on a tractor and planting herbs. In the afternoon, there will be a free tour of the spice fields during which participants will hear about the medicinal properties of each herb. There will be engaging Tu Bishvat workshops for kids in which they’ll make decorative pots and learn how dried fruits and nuts are prepared.
Date: January 19 and 26, February 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: Tractor ride: NIS 30 (pre-registration required); 
workshops: NIS 35
Info: (04) 953-3405.
Families with children are invited to join a guided tour in electric carts at Park Hama’ayanot. The tour will lead you alongside the river and over bridges, where guests will get to see the huge eucalyptus trees, whose roots absorb water from deep down in the ground. You can climb up the hill with a tower at the top and wander through the shrubbery, which some people say was used to make the thorny crown that Jesus, according to legend, wore on his head. The tour continues past the flour mill, Tel Shlosha, fish ponds and aqueducts, where guests can see seasonal flowers and might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of magnificent birds.
Date: Saturday, January 19 at noon
Price: NIS 50
Info: (050) 212-2564, www.nirtours.co.il
The public is invited to come to David Ben-Gurion’s House in Sde Boker to take part in a special day of tree planting in honor of Tu Bishvat. This is a great opportunity to help fulfill the first prime minister’s dream of making the Negev bloom. Visitors can pick out seeds from a huge selection and then plant them outside Ben-Gurion’s House. There will also be a paper-folding workshop in which participants will make flowers, which will then be used to decorate a huge map of the Negev.
Location: Ben-Gurion’s House, Sde Boker
Date: Saturday, January 19, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Price: Adults NIS 20; children/pensioners/students NIS 15
Info: (03) 522-1010
This Tu Bishvat, national parks across the country will be offering family-friendly hikes. One amazing tour will take place at Beit Guvrin-Maresha, which is famous for the gigantic caves that were hewn there. During the Tu Bishvat tour at Beit Guvrin, visitors will get to view all the various trees that grow in the area, including the enormous carob trees; the almond trees that are beginning to flower; the impressive fig trees that stand naked this time of year; and the pomegranate trees.
Date: Saturday, January 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: Tour included in entry fee. Free for national park cardholders.
Info: (08) 681-1020
Kibbutz Yagur is inviting the public to take part in its annual Tu Bishvat Hutzot Yagur festival, where you’ll find a variety of workshops for kids and adults. On Saturday, January 19, a mass quiz for kids will take place on the topic of plants; the winner will receive a coupon for the kibbutz nursery. Kids can also join in on a free workshop to learn how to plant seeds and on Saturday, January 26, they can learn how to bake pitot on a taboun and then join an arts and craft workshop.
Location: Yagur Nursery at the kibbutz entrance
Price: Entrance is free; workshops are NIS 10
Info: www.yagurgan.co.il
Translated by Hannah Hochner.