It is traditional to plant trees to celebrate Tu Bish’vat (the birthday of the trees).
This year, will you plant justice?
I am writing to ask you to join me in planting two trees this Tu Bish’vat: One in the West Bank and one in the Negev.
Like me, you are probably horrified by the escalation in “price tag” attacks by settlers against Palestinians, Israeli peace activists, and even the Israeli army. These destructive acts have included uprooting or poisoning thousands of olive trees belonging to Palestinian families. This vandalism threatens the livelihood of these families, who support themselves by selling olives and olive oil. And these brutal acts run counter to the biblical injunction to protect trees, even in times of conflict.
This year, Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel will plant more than 3000 olive trees in Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
In the United States and Canada, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America is proud to harness the voices of 1800 rabbis of all streams of Judaism to oppose settler violence and to advocate for human rights protections for Israelis and Palestinians.
This Tu Bish'vat, Rabbis for Human Rights will also be leading a tree planting initiative in the Negev in solidarity with Bedouin Israeli citizens whose homes are threatened with demolition. These citizens live in villages that pre-date the State of Israel, but that have never been recognized by the government. Like trees, these residents have deep roots in their home villages.
This Tu Bish’vat, will you join me in planting two trees? Plant your trees in honor or in memory of a loved one or champion of justice. Or simply plant your trees with hopes for a better future.
Plant justice with your home community too this Tu Bish'vat. Organize your own Tu Bish'vat celebration using Planting Justice, RHR-NA's Tu Bish’vat Seder, which focuses on agricultural rights in Israel, and human trafficking and anti-Muslim prejudice in North America.
A medieval Tu Bish’vat prayer offers the following hope:
On the New Year of the Trees,
May sycamore and wild fig grow tall,
Proclaim: “For true peace will I give you in this place.”
Blessed are You, Adonai, the One Who makes peace.
(Translated by Rabbi Joyce Galaski, RHR-NA board member)
We pray that the trees we plant this Tu Bish’vat will herald a new era of peace and justice.
Wishing you blessings on Tu Bish’vat,
Rabbi Jill Jacobs
p.s. If you do use Planting Justice, RHR-NA's Tu Bish’vat Seder at your own seder, please let us know. Tu Bish'vat runs from the evening of February 7 through sundown February 8. And don't forget to celebrate by planting two trees