What YOU Can Do To Help Israel’s Forests This Tu BiShvat

Jan 09, 2022  |  By Evelina G
Israeli forest

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Tu BiShvat, the New Year of the Trees, Judaica WebStore is partnering with the Jewish National Fund to help replant Israel’s forests that were burned down in the devastating fires of 2021.

We’ll be donating 10% of our profits between now and Tu BiShvat, January 17, to JNF’s forest rehabilitation project.

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That means that every purchase from our site will help plant trees in Israel, and spread hope and optimism to a devastated land. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on some Judaica and Jewish art, and connect with Israel in a special way while leaving a positive mark on the land!

Some of the devastation in the Jerusalem hills forest after the fires of August 2021 (Photo: Yonatan Sindel for Times of Israel)

The megafires of 2021

The summer of 2021 saw multiple wildfires raging in the forests outside Jerusalem throughout the month of August, which shook the nation. Although thankfully there was no loss of human life, due to quick and successful evacuations of nearby communities, the destruction was nonetheless devastating.

The enormous fires consumed about 6,200 acres of forest in the Judean hills, burning down countless trees and plants and destroying important habitats for local wildlife. About 100,000 animals are estimated to have perished in the fires, and untold numbers of insects that the local ecosystem depends on. The aftermath, some of which can be seen from the main highway leading in and out of Jerusalem, is heartbreaking as well as very concerning for local wildlife and for what it means for the planet and our future.

Although there have been allegations of arson as to the cause of the start of the fires, the reason why they spread so quickly and were so difficult to contain is, sadly, climate change. Israeli weather has been increasingly hotter and dryer from year to year, with the rising temperatures and longer summer dry season contributing to massive wildfires every few years.

According to Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry, given current trends the future is only expected to bring more “rising temperatures, declining rainfall, and an increase in the rate and intensity of extreme events such as heatwaves and fires.”

On the other hand, trees themselves also help to regulate temperatures, which means that destroying forests leads to an even more rapid acceleration in global warming.

Forest fire rages outside Jerusalem on August 16, 2021 (Photo: Yonatan Sindel for Times of Israel)

Help Israel’s forests with every purchase and celebrate the New Year of the Trees, with our beautiful Tu BiShvat gifts from the Land of Israel.

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Forests and vegetation in the Judean hills outside Jerusalem

What can be done in the aftermath

The Israeli government is investing in measures to prevent future wildfires from reaching a similar magnitude as well as fighting them more quickly and efficiently, in addition to rehabilitating the destroyed forest. 

Non-profit organizations like the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), which owns some of the Jerusalem forest, are also spearheading rehabilitation projects and allowing private citizens to contribute to the replanting of Israel’s lost trees.

One challenge is that this year (the Hebrew year 5782, which started on Rosh Hashanah) is the Jewish shmita year, and Jewish law prevents planting new vegetation and many other agricultural activities in the Land of Israel during this time in order to allow the land to rest, which means replanting can’t occur in its regular fashion. (You can read more about shmita in our blog post here.)

However, shmita is also a time that forces us to reflect on our relationship with the land and how we are treating the earth and its nature, and the heartbreak of the devastated forests is just another factor forcing us to reexamine human actions that affect the environment and the planet.

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Israeli date trees

On account of the shmita year, the Jewish National Fund’s replanting project is in two parts and compliant with Jewish law: trees from donations will be planted in biodegradable containers at a nursery, and later replanted in the Jerusalem forest next year, in 5783.

You too can contribute to these important replanting efforts, simply by shopping on our site between now and Tu BiShvat, January 17 – we will be donating 10% of our profits directly to KKL-JNF’s forest rehabilitation project!

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Restoring and protecting Israel’s beautiful forests and natural fauna is important to preserving local wildlife, protecting the ecosystem, and helping to slow rising temperatures and global warming.

Shop our gorgeous Tree of Life gifts from Israeli artisans, and get in touch with Biblical tradition and a powerful symbol of life and nature.

Relation to Tu BiShvat

Since the upcoming holiday of Tu BiShvat (from sundown on Sunday, January 16 to sundown on January 17) is also known as the New Year of the Trees and is commonly associated with planting trees and celebrating nature, it’s really the perfect opportunity to focus on restoring Israel’s forests and giving back to the environment!

You can read more about the holiday of Tu BiShvat with our recent blog post here, including its common traditions and how it came to be associated with trees, nature, and the Land of Israel.

And help us celebrate the New Year of the Trees and plant some trees in Israel with every purchase from our site from now until the end of the holiday!

Check out our top 12 Tu BiShvat gifts from Israel’s best companies and artists, from wine to home décor to ritual items that will remind you of the message of the holiday all year.

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