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Planting trees at Israel’s ground zero

Efforts to rebuild Israel’s battered south are well underway as Jewish National Fund-USA volunteers planted trees near the site of the NOVA music festival during Tu BiShvat.

Volunteers plant trees at the site of the Nova music festival in southern Israel. Credit: Courtesy.
Volunteers plant trees at the site of the Nova music festival in southern Israel. Credit: Courtesy.

More than 100 Jewish National Fund-USA volunteers planted trees near the site of the infamous NOVA music festival during Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees as part of its broader efforts to revitalize and renew the battered region.

“We are planting trees not to talk about the blood that we lost but to think about the future,” said Alexander Muss High School in Israel educator Gavriel Porten, who also led the tour of the region. “That’s why we plant—for the future … to harken to what [Jewish National Fund-USA Israel Development Officer] Michal Uziyahu said to us, ‘we choose life.’ Trees are a sign of life. We grieve, mourn the dead, and the minute after we plant, to bring life into the world.”

Jewish National Fund-USA professionals Sharon Joy, Dara Shapiro and Marina Furman plant trees near the site of the Nova music festival during Tu B’Shevat. Credit: Courtesy.

The initiative is part of the organization’s almost weekly and often sold-out volunteer missions that have brought hundreds of Americans to help local farmers, clean up communities and repair environmental ecosystems.

Jewish National Fund-USA director of marketing and mission Dara Shapiro said, “As we planted tree saplings and walked through the Nova music festival site, my heart ached in a way I didn’t know it could. Trees take years to mature and bear fruit, unlike other plants, such as the vegetables and herbs we planted in the surrounding fields during the mission. You can’t harvest them in a month or two after planting like the other crops. However, when the trees finally flower, they continue to flourish and bear produce for decades. In this spirit, I feel our efforts symbolize that we are true partners with these communities as we rebuild and renew their towns and villages, not just for today but for tomorrow, the next day and for future generations.”

The tree-planting took place just hours after relatives of the Nova music festival victims murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 also gathered to plant trees in their memory.

To plant a tree this Tu B’Shevat, visit: jnf.org/trees. To honor an Israel Defense Forces soldier, enter “IDF Soldier” in the name field during the purchase process and a tree certificate will be sent to a serving member in the IDF.

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