Trees: The Ultimate Zionist Ideal
A common Tu B’Shevat activity is to have a tree drive for Israel. Trees can be purchased to be planted in one of the JNF (Jewish National Fund) Forests in Israel. Tree planting was an integral part to the Zionist cause in settling the land of Israel from the late 19th Century. Planting trees was seen as a necessary ritual in order to connect to the land. Trees were an essential symbol for the Zionist mission of “striking roots” in the Jewish homeland. In keeping with the notion of planting trees as a means to establishing a legacy expressed in the Midrash, it became a common practice to plant trees in memory of loved ones. Forests planted in memory of those who have died establish their legacy and serve as an effective continuity between the past and the future. The powerful and explicit example of this can be seen in the announcement of the Holocaust Martyrs’ Forest in Jerusalem: The memory of our six million holy ones will be eternalized in the trees which will be planted in the earth closest to the heart of each and every Jew [i.e., Jerusalem]. Their names will be sanctified for eternity by the tree which is renewed time after time with the passing of the year. ‘The Forest of the Holy Ones’ will rise in the Judean Hills at the entrance of the capital of Israel and thus will serves as a practical contribution to the resuscitation of this important area. Planting trees remains a vital part of Israel’s development and sustenance. Through the efforts of JNF, which has planted over 210 million trees, Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees at the end of the 20th Century than it did at the beginning. [From the Hillel Tu B'Shvat Seder, http://www.hillel.org/jewish/holidays/tubshevat/default]
1. The text above refers to trees as a link between the past and future. What does this notion imply about sustainability and environmentalism?
2. Is the idea of planting trees in honor of loved ones a specifically Jewish concept?
3. What is the basis of Israeli environmentalism? Need Jews be more "environmentally conscious" in Israel than elsewhere?