Israeli Navy celebrates Tu Bishvat

Navy Commander and Israeli Navy soldiers join the JNF and plant trees at the Carmel Forest in northern Israel in honor of the Jewish Arbor Day

Date: 08/02/2012, 11:04 AM     Author: Adam May

In honor of Tu Bishvat, the Jewish ‘New Year of the Trees’ comparable to Arbor day, representatives from the IDF (Zahal) Navy held a special ceremony at the Carmel forest in northern Israel in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Busloads of soldiers from different units of the Israeli Navy arrived at the Carmel forest early on Tuesday (February 7). The day started with a brief tour through the forest, which only a year ago had suffered a devastating forest fire that destroyed nearly half of the foliage.

The participants were given the opportunity to help plant trees in honor of the holiday, celebrating trees and nature. Excited soldiers bounded off the busses and carefully planted several saplings along the hills of the forest. The atmosphere was celebratory as soldiers rushed to claim the saplings. “I think it’s really great that we get a chance to get out feel the fresh air and the land we are protecting,” said Pvt. Miriam Moshkovski, one of the soldiers in attendance. “Some of us stay in front of the screen or in the office for hours, it’s easy to forget what it’s like outside.”

Commander of the Israeli Navy, Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg presided over the event. “I told you when you got here to enjoy the moment and feel the land with your hands. This is a part of loving Israel, we will defend, fight, and die on this land,” said Maj. Gen. Rothberg. “You will come back here every year and see your contribution to this forest grow and grow.”

Representatives of the JNF thanked the soldiers who came to plant trees, and expressed their appreciation for their support. “You’ve left a lasting footprint on the Carmel Forest,” said JNF representative Eti Azulai.

While the forest is still recovering from the deadly blaze, the JNF has received an outpouring of support in their mission to restore the forest. Over 18,000 people have volunteered to help restore the forest since the fire was extinguished in December of 2010.