Planting Trees for Tu Bishvat

This act has always been held in high regard in Judaism.

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Planting was also considered a way to create eternity. As the Talmud relates, the righteous man Honi once encountered a man planting a carob tree. "How long will it take to bear fruit?" he inquired. "About seventy years," the man replied. "So you think you will live long enough to taste its fruits?" The man explained, "I have found ready-grown carob trees in the world. As my forefathers planted them for me, so I plant for my children."

As a result of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) reforestation projects in Israel, the land once desert now supports successful farming endeavors, and millions of trees cover the hills. Visitors to Israel, on Tu Bishvat or at other times, can participate in the Plant a Tree with Your Own Hands Program. A popular alternative is to purchase tree certificates, through local and national JNF and Hadassah offices.

Each inexpensive certificate represents one tree planted in Israel in memory or honor of an individual or on a special occasion. (Only large plantings, not individual trees, are actually designated on site.) Outside Israel, symbolic plantings are often done for the holiday, with trees planted in one's yard or community, or houseplants started from seeds, particularly parsley, which will sprout in time for Passover.

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Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.