(AJNews) – Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees, falls on the 15th day of the month of Shevat – this year from sundown on Jan. 27 to sundown on Jan. 28, 2021.
Even though we are in the middle of winter in North America, Tu B’Shevat marks the beginning of a new cycle for trees.
Though Tu B’Shevat no longer serves its original fiscal function (of tithing), Jewish communities celebrate the New Year of Trees as a minor festival. In the 1600s, Jewish mystics in Safed created a Tu B’Shevat seder modeled after the Passover seder. Participants eat four different categories of fruit and drink four different combinations of red and white wine or grape juice, symbolizing the four seasons and the mystical “four worlds.”
The early pioneers of the State of Israel began the practice of celebrating Tu B’Shevat by planting trees.
Jewish communities around the world currently celebrate Tu B’Shevat as a “Jewish Earth Day” – organizing seders, tree-plantings, ecological restoration activities and educational events, all of which provide an opportunity to express a Jewish commitment to protecting the earth. During the current COVID-19 pandemic gatherings are restricted so large seders will not be held but Jewish National Fund (JNF) is still actively involved in celebrating the environmental objectives of Tu B’Shevat.
This year, Tu B’Shevat begins on Jan. 27 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In recognition of these coinciding themes, Jewish National Fund has carefully selected projects with the intention of providing vital assistance to Holocaust survivors and honouring those who perished by revitalizing the Plugot Forest in their memory.
As part of their Tu B’Shevat annual campaign JNF asks that you consider giving a gift in the name of a family member who perished or survived the Shoah.
Many of the nearly 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today were children during WW2, children who suffered an unimaginable tragedy. After the war, they made every effort to rebuild their shattered lives, but not all succeeded. Many continue to struggle with their traumatic pasts. Over the past years, the number of survivors requesting support continues to grow. As the survivors age and face additional challenges their needs’ grow and their support network becomes more limited.
With your help, JNF will renovate Amcha’s Centre in Rehovot servicing Survivors with psychological and social support. This centre has become dilapidated and is unsuitable for many activities. This centre will provide a rich array of programs, that after a year of isolation due to the pandemic, have become more important than ever. Now is the time to help us honour these brave Jewish heroes and ensure their final chapters are filled with support and happiness.
“Please consider giving a gift in the name of a family member who perished or survived the Shoah. If able, we kindly ask you to think about supporting this campaign on a monthly basis to help as many Holocaust survivors as possible,” said JNF Edmonton Executive Director Jay Cairns and President Erin Wright. “Each gift over $100 will be entitled to receive a beautiful commemorative certificate. Or, you can let JNF decide the area of greatest need.
“Thank you for your trust in JNF and Happy Tu B’Shevat!