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May 25, 2016 / 17 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Forester-For-A-Day: KKL-JNF Involves Citizens in Maintaining Israeli Forests

Monday, September 10th, 2012

KKL-JNF’s ( Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund) “Forester For a Day” program is a new ecological initiative that offers visitors a unique opportunity to assist in maintaining Israel’s forests, prevent forest fires and promote an overall atmosphere of environmental awareness.

The KKL-JNF owns 13 percent of the land in Israel, and has planted 240 million trees and establish more than 1,000 parks. Building on KKL-JNF’s  hugely successful flagship tree-planting project, the “Forester-For-A-Day” program lets participants connect with the soil of Israel in a very personal way.

Participants work side-by-side with KKL-JNF foresters to prune trees, prepare forest paths and fire breaks, and clear underbrush. The program is tailored to groups only (15-100 participants), and is available in English, French, German, and Spanish. Spread out in four locations across the country – Birya forest in the Golan, Carmel forest  in the Galillee, Ben Shemen forest in the Center, and Lahav forest in the South – the program runs 2-3 hours in its entirety, and provides an opportunity for volunteers of all ages to experience Israel in a unique way and make a direct contribute to its preservation.

The cost is $18 per person, and participants receive a bottle of water, KKL-JNF hat and pin, certificate of appreciation after their work is completed.

The Jewish Press sat down with Revital Ovadia, Coordinator of Forester-For-A-Day, to find out more about the program.

The Jewish Press (JP): How did the Forester-For-A-Day program get started?

Revital Ovadia (RO): Unfortunately, it was a tragedy – the Carmel Forest fire in December 2010 – that inspired the program. But we decided to take a tragedy and bring something positive out of it.

What has been the feedback? Have many people have participated in the program?

As of today – which is only a year into the program’s implementation – there have been hundreds of participants: bar and bat mitzvah parties, groups wanting to get involved, as well as workplace and family events.

The feedback has been great. The best indication of its success is the fact that when the Israeli public heard about the program – which was tailored specifically for non-Israelis – many requested to participate in it. And so we opened it up to Israeli participation as well!

Has the program had an effect yet on the environment? Has it helped with the rehabilitation after the Carmel fire?

The Carmel Forest has been rehabilitating at an impressive rate, thanks in  part to the program, as well as all the volunteers who came to help KKL-JNF after the fire.

Still, we are not permitted to plant new trees until next year – in order to let the soil regenerate. So we are looking forward to returning to planting trees and intensifying the Carmel Forest’s rehabilitation.

What are some other programs people can get involved with KKL-JNF?

KKL-JNF has a wide range of programs and activities, including bicycle and hiking trails in Israel’s forests and in the parks. Groups can also coordinate such activities to precede or follow the Forester-For-A-Day program.

For more information on the campaign, contact Revital Ovadia at KKL-JNF revio@kkl.org.il.

Jewish Press Staff

‘Kzayit’: Rashi Almost Certainly Never Saw an Olive

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Rashi almost certainly never saw an olive. The same goes for other medieval authorities in Ashk’naz (Germany-Northern France). This little-known but indisputable fact should matter to you. It has everything to do with the following question: Is Halakhic Judaism rational and rooted in reality, or is it a hypothetical construct unconducive to engaging the real world?

It is a simple matter to ascertain, or describe to another, the volume of an average olive, a ‘k’zayit’…provided you have olives. But what if you have never seen an olive? How would you understand the concept? How would you describe it to someone unfamiliar with olives?

This was the reality in Ashk’naz in the Middle Ages, and there is no mystery as to why. The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin, from Israel in the East to Spain in the west; it does not naturally grow elsewhere. In Roman times, due to the trade routes which crisscrossed the Empire, olives may have made their way to Germany and beyond. The collapse of Rome, however, led to a breakdown of law and order, and therefore trade.

Medieval Ashk’nazim were unfamiliar with olives, a fact confirmed by R. Eliezer b. Yoel’s (d. circa 1225) discussion of the minimal amount required for a b’rakha aharona: “Wherever a k’zayith is required, one needs a sizeable amount of food, because we are unfamiliar with the size of an olive…” (Ra’avya, B’rakhoth 107).

Some Ashk’nazi authorities concluded that an olive was half the volume of an egg, while others demonstrated, based on Talmudic sources, that it must be less than one third of an egg. How much less they could not say. The truth, of course, is different, as was clearly perceived by one 14th century authority who actually made it to Eretz Yisrael. Responding to the proposition that a person could swallow three k’zaytim at once (which is quite impossible if one assumes a k’zayit to be half of an egg in volume) he wrote: “As for me, the matter is plain, for I saw olives in Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim, and even six were not equal to an egg.” S’pharadi authorities, on the other hand, had no such difficulties. One wrote that an olive is “much less” than a quarter of an egg (Rashba), while another mentions in passing that a dried fig is equal to “several olives” (Rittba). The last three statements, made by sages who saw olives, are entirely accurate.

In present day Halakhic practice, predicated on opinions rooted in the aforementioned lack of knowledge and experience, a k’zayit is often said to be 30 cc, while others say 60 cc. These figures bear no relation to the real world olives of Eretz Yisrael which average 3-5 cc. It is claimed by some that once upon a time olives were much larger. This claim is false. Olives and olive trees have not changed, as evidenced by the fact that there are over 70 olive trees in Israel ranging between 1,700-2000 years old, and 7 are approximately 3000 years old. These trees continue to produce fruit identical to the olives of younger trees. Halakhic responsa from the G’onic period echo these facts, stating plainly that olives do not change. Some would have you believe that there are two kinds of olives: real olives and ‘Halakhic’ olives. In their view, Halakha need not reflect reality; it exists in an alternate reality of its own. This is a tragedy because it paints Judaism as divorced from reality and irrelevant to a rational person. This is a lie because Torah was intended by Hashem as our handbook for operating in the real world.

The ultimate purpose of Judaism was announced by the Creator before He transmitted the Torah to His people: “And you shall be for My purpose a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The nation of Israel is the priest connecting God and mankind. “I, God, have summoned you for a righteous purpose…. and have assigned you for my covenant with humanity, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).

The Jewish people, in order to succeed, have to live and lead in the real world. To deal with the challenges facing us as a nation we must think, act and believe rationally. A rational person does not believe in olives 2o times the size of the olives we see with our own eyes. To deal with reality, we have to get real.

We are described as being created in the image of Hashem because we can think and reason. To convince ourselves that Halakha can be based on irrational claims is an insult to our God-given intelligence. Not to mention that it places Judaism squarely in the realm of fairy tales. What kind of message does that send to our children?

Nothing could be more pernicious than the notion that truth and Torah do not mix. The same goes for the idea that Halakhic opinions rooted in Exile-induced misconceptions are sacrosanct and immutable. A philosophy that turns aberration into truth, the Torah of Galuth into the real McCoy, is intolerable. The clear implication is that Judaism, as a system, is broken and beyond repair.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

Why It’s Important To Know Hebrew

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Hebrew — knowledge of the language of the Jewish people is essential.

Jews pray in Hebrew, and therefore should know the words they say.

The Torah is in Hebrew, and it’s better to understand it in its original form.

Hebrew is the international language of the Jewish people and in all the places I’ve been around the world, Hebrew works better than English.

And…many of the blog posts I simply don’t have time to write, are based on sources in Hebrew. These stories would fascinate you, yet I simply do not have the time to translate them all for you.

For example – Maariv reports on how the JNF has capitulated to Leftist demands to stop planting trees in the Negev, despite the land being 100% State of Israel land and upheld by the courts. Source (in Hebrew)

The Jewish woman from Bat-Yam who started going out with “David”…and his strange behavior caused her to have him investigated by private investigators. They revealed that he was an Arab…married with 4 children. And her response? Don’t tell anyone, so she can continue her relationship with him…she honestly believes she can continue this way. Source (in Hebrew)

High School students expelled for having setting up a table for students to put on tefillin. The Secular high school in Haifa (no, not Modiin) said they were not expelled for the tefillin, per se, but for arrogant behavior. Source (in Hebrew)

Merrill Lynch analyst says Bezeq Telecom stock will rise 47% Source (in Hebrew) Bezeq?! Mashiach must be here…

MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi; A Jew that expects an [Israeli] Arab to sing the “Hatkiva” [Israe’s national anthem] is either an idiot or crazy, or he is MK [David] Rotem [Yisrael Beiteinu party] or MK [Michael] Ben-Ari [Ichud Leumi] (Haaretz, 10 AM today)

So what can we expect from Israeli Arabs without being considered crazy?

Jameel@Muqata

Israel Celebrates Tu B’Shevat

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

School children, families and communities across Israel celebrated the holiday of Tu B’Shevat on Wednesday, planting trees and eating fruits native to the Land of Israel in honor of the New Year of the Trees.

Tu B’Shevat is one of four “New Years” mentioned in the Mishnah.  Occurring on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, it is the first day of the yearly agricultural cycle, and is important in terms of calculating biblical tithes and the appropriate time to begin cultivating fruits for eating.

According to Jewish law, a tree which is under the age of three may not be farmed for its fruits, but must be allowed to grow uninhibited, a law called Orlah.  Only after the tree reaches the age of three may its fruits be taken for eating.  Fourth-year fruits crops are brought to Jerusalem as a tithe, a law called Neta Revai.  Tu B’Shevat is the cut-off date for calculating the age of a fruit-bearing trees, and is important today for maintaining kosher standards  for the religious community, which continues to follow the laws of permitted fruits according to age.

In the 16th century, the great kabbalist and mystic Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Tzfat (the Arizal) instituted the tradition of making a Tu B’Shevat seder including fruits grown in the Land of Israel and featuring those which constitute the seven species noted in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 8: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey.” The purpose of conducting the seder, which involves eating specific fruits, drinking four cups of wine, and saying blessings would raise people and even nature up to a higher spirituality.

Tu B’Shevat is also the time when members of the Chassidic and Sephardic communities pray for the etrog they will use during the holiday of Sukkot.

Planting a date palm in Hebron with the Kumah organization, 2006

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin planting a tree with the Jewish National Fund, 2012

Pack containing the Seven Species, all grown in Israel
Malkah Fleisher

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Preaches Killing of Jews in Sermon

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Top Palestinian Authority religious leader, Muhammad Hussein, glorified the killing of Jews as a religious edict for Muslims at an event celebrating the founding of Fatah last week.

Hussein cited the Hadith, an Islamic holy text, saying:

“The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews.

The Jew will hide behind stones or trees.

Then the stones or trees will call:

‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

 

Jewish Press Staff

Big Bang On Glenbrook

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

For 10 years our front door was 35 feet from the busiest road leading in and out of Morristown, New Jersey. Zoom, zoom, zoom…one car after another going 40-50 miles per hour, not only during the morning and afternoon rush hours, but all week long. Even when we stood by our front door, we had to yell at the top of our lungs to call to our children who were playing in our tiny front yard. “Why didn’t you come in when we called you?” my wife often asked. “We didn’t hear you,” they often answered. Sometimes it was an excuse. On Shabbos, traffic was lighter but far from quiet. Many times we had to close the windows to have a conversation at our Shabbos table.

Recently we moved to Monsey, New York. Divine Providence led us to a foreclosed house on Glenbrook Road in the Wesley Hills neighborhood of Monsey. Sometimes, but not too often, one will see three cars travelling down the road at the same time. On Shabbos a car going down Glenbrook is a rare sight – maybe two or three during the entire 25 hours. But it’s not just the rarity of cars. The narrow forest of tall, mature, and majestic trees running behind the homes on Glenbrook imbue the neighborhood with an added aura of peace and quiet. Shabbos in Monsey is like a taste of Gan Eden.

One of the most beautiful – and most memorable – days that I can remember in our new neighborhood occurred on Friday, June 3, 2011.  The air felt warm and dry, the sun shined softly, and the sky reflected a gorgeous blue. What a contrast with the weather of May – weeks of heavy rains, cloudy skies, strong winds, alternating days of chilly air and muggy high heat, the threat of tornados – and, worst of all, water in my basement.

By 7 p.m. on that delicious Friday, the serenity had reached its peak. All of the men and boys (except for me and a few others who don’t make Shabbos early) had already gathered in shul. Soon they would be singing “L’cha dodi: Come, my Beloved, to meet the Bride; let us welcome the Shabbat.”

My son Dovid and I were standing on our deck, cooking chicken on the grill for the Shabbos meal. The fat from the chicken dripped and the flames flared up with a sizzling crack and a pop. For my son and me, Shabbos would begin in an hour at sunset. In the meantime, we were sharing with one of those rare “Kodak moments” before the big day –four days away when Dovid would turn 13 and become a “man.” Dovid’s zaidy, my father, of blessed memory, would have cherished being at his grandson’s bar mitzvah. However, that’s the way of life – until death will be forever removed. Meanwhile, the old generation must eventually make room for the new one. Young trees cannot grow tall when overshadowed by the grand, old trees. In such a peaceful neighborhood, it’s easier to meditate on such thoughts.

Holding the tongs, Dovid flipped over a grilled thigh of chicken.

Rrrripp! Bang!

We jumped. Lightning? Thunder? No, the sky was all blue.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

“What was that?” I asked.

“Sounds like fireworks,” Dovid said.

Jeff, the neighbor next door, called out from his yard, “Tzvi, did you hear that?”

The three of us ran to the front. The road was clear. It wasn’t a car accident. We ran up Glenbrook. A group of women and girls were standing in the driveway of the Epstein’s house.

Tzvi Jacobs

‘Sovev, Sovev’ – Round And Round We Go

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

“What a depressing book!” is a common response to reading Sefer Kohelet. It seems at first glance that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, is telling us there is no purpose to all of man’s efforts, whether intellectual, material or social.

However, this nihilistic view often erroneously attributed to Kohelet is not only antithetical to many Jewish beliefs taught by the Torah, it is even contradictory to statements Kohelet himself makes. What then is the message of Sefer Kohelet? Is there a way to interpret Kohelet’s oft-quoted statement “Hevel Havalim hakol hevel” – “Futility of futilities, all is futile” – in a positive, perhaps even inspiring light?

The word hevel appears no fewer than thirty-eight times in the sefer, and if Shlomo HaMelech is telling us all is hevel, it is imperative to properly translate this word. When studying Tanach and trying to define a word, one needs to look at the first place that word appears and translate the word based on the context.

The first place the word hevel appears is in the story in Bereishit of Kayin and Hevel. Hevel is the first person to introduce mortality into the world since he is the first human to die. “Hevel” is therefore defined as vanity or futility since his death teaches us that nothing lasts, all is fleeting, life is like the breath released from our bodies – non-tangible, transient. But there was more to Hevel’s story than his death; there was his life.

In his life he achieved something wonderful and everlasting – a relationship with God. Through his sacrifice he was granted Divine deliverance, and “God turned favorably toward Hevel.” Though Hevel’s death taught us life is not eternal, his life taught us how to gain transience in this world through developing a relationship with God.

The very fact that Kohelet tells us he has “witnessed all the deeds done under the sun, and indeed, all is futile and accomplishes nothing” is meant to inspire us to live life to the utmost by filling it with spiritual endeavors and God’s Torah and mitzvot – the only pursuits that have lasting value as opposed to everything else that in Kohelet’s view is equivalent to “chasing winds.”

A couple of weeks ago I was at an amusement park with my family, enjoying the last few days of summer vacation. My three-year-old son wanted to go an a ride called Turtle Whirl. Needles to say, the ride featured a lot of whirling and spinning. I could barely look at it without feeling slightly ill. My husband graciously agreed to accompany my son and I happily agreed to watch from the sidelines and take pictures. However, try as I might, I wasn’t able to get a single picture – the ride was spinning so fast it was impossible to capture their smiling faces.

Isn’t life the same? How often do we have days – even weeks, months or years – when we feel like we’re spinning around so continuously it seems impossible to even pause long enough to catch one’s breath, let alone stay focused and find meaning in it all?

This idea is what inspired me to create the artwork “Sovev, sovev” pictured on the front page of this week’s Jewish Press. In the artwork, the majority of Sefer Kohelet is written in concentric circles – a dizzying feat in it of itself. As Kohelet instructs us, life and our daily activities are cyclical, just as nature is cyclical. The sun rises, the sun sets, the wind blows from east to west and then back again from west to east. As the Maharal teaches, human actions mirror nature.

Even the words of Kohelet seem cyclical – Shlomo walking us through his logic and analysis of human endeavors just to bring us back to the same point: “hakol hevel” – “all is futile.” The challenge through this dizzying ride of life is to find meaning and perspective.

The Avudraham explains that the words of Kohelet were culled from sermons given by Shlomo HaMelech every seven years on Sukkot when the Jews would gather in Yerushalayim to celebrate the holiday and fulfill the mitzvah of hakhel (one of the reasons the book is called Kohelet).

Shira Gabriela

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/sovev-sovev-round-and-round-we-go/2011/10/12/

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