Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Trees in Israel...

Have you ever given money to the Jewish national Fund (JNF) to plant a tree in Israel?

I know I have, and why not, as the JNF puts it:
Planting a tree in Israel is the perfect way to show you care. For $18/ tree, you can plant trees for many different reasons and help green the land of Israel while sending a special gift to a friend or loved one.

Well, here is one of the lesser known reasons of the need for planting trees in Israel (Courtesy of IMRA):
To: Members of the Foreign Press
From: Orly Doron, Spokesperson - The Jewish National Fund
Dear friends,

Re: Christmas Trees

As has become our custom, Jewish National Fund will be pleased to distribute Christmas trees that have been thinned out from its forests to its Christian friends and members of the Foreign Press.

The procedure of thinning out of the forests this time of year is part of the regular curriculum in the Jewish National Fund forests.

Trees can be picked up from our Givat Yeshayahu Nursery (near Beit Shemesh) on Tuesday Dec. 20,2005 between 08:00am - 15:00pm.

Kindly contact us in order to reserve your tree - please do so no later than Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005. In your reservation, kindly indicate at the same time the approximate height you would like the tree (between 1 to 6 meters).

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season to you and your families.

Best Regards,

Orly Doron

Before you decide to give the JNF $18 to plant another tree in Israel, you might want to clarify with them whether your tree is going to be used to help someone in Israel celebrate Christmas.


Let's all reserve "christmas" trees and then use them to celebrate Lag b'Omer.

By Blogger NG, at Tue Dec 06, 03:00:00 PM GMT+2  

I wonder how they know if someone is really from the press...

Maybe we can all just call up and get on the list...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Dec 06, 03:46:00 PM GMT+2  

I hope that the trees I planted did not end up covered with tinsel and candycanes.

A related development.

By Blogger Cosmic X, at Tue Dec 06, 04:02:00 PM GMT+2  

*Serious* Lashon Hara going on here, gents!

The JNF is not deceiving any of its donors (a significant proportion of whom are Christian, BTW) by distributing a few trees from thinning (is not current donor-sponsored) forests to local diplomats/press: They have been doing this for years and do not hide it. We're talking about a GOODWILL GESTURE (remember those?) of a few hundred trees maximum- out of the THOUSANDS they plant and re-plant each year across the country. And you are not only damaging their reputation here, but you also want to reserve some trees so you can BURN them instead?! Great!

What exactly do you see as the problem here? Encouraging Avoda Zara via a tree?! Nonsense! You all know that this is the ultimate festival of commercialism, and that its not even "his" birthday... If you wanted to bemoan how many Jews (particularly those from the FSU) celebrate some form of Christmas in the Holy Land, go crazy: there is definitely what to say there. But if you are complaining because the JNF distributes a few trees to some local, resident or visiting Christians celebrating Christmas here, you don't really have a leg (or a branch) to stand on.

By Anonymous PP, at Tue Dec 06, 07:02:00 PM GMT+2  

Cosmic... we'll never know... but, if you ever saw the movie Sallah Shabbati (if not, go see it), then chances are, they never really planted "your" tree in the first place...


1) I am not accusing the JNF of trying to foll anyone... this was something that was put out, and i am merely bringing it to people's attnetion who mightn ot have seen it...

2) I'm not so familiar with goodwill gestures - I thought we only did those towards the Arabs, and usually we pay for them with more dead Jews - I hope that wont be the case wit hthese trees.

3) I don't want ot reserve treees to burn, but if they are going to be cut down anyway, better to use them for Lag B'Omer, then for X-Mas.

4) My issue wit hthe whole thing is this... People plant trees in Israel (or at least people like me and Cosmic X) to beautify the Land, to help strenghten the environment, and basically, b/c it's a mitzvah to plant things in Eretz Yisrael...

I am not planting trees so they can be used for a Christian Holiday. The JNF forests do not belong to the JNF but to the Jewish People - and I have a problem with us officially supporting Christmas by giving them trees.

If a private donor wants to buy them all trees, thats great, but its wrong for the JNF to do it.

If the trees have to be cut down anyway, make paper, or pencils or something else out of them...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Dec 06, 08:19:00 PM GMT+2  

Originally I was going to say, "How depressing."

But PP does have a couple good points...I'd still prefer that my trees not be used for Christmas, but goodwill gestures are important (as long as they're not moronic, like giving away half the country - that's not goodwill, that's suicide). Giving a few trees that need to be cleared as goodwill gestures seems all right to me. And, the tree is far more a product of the commercialism of the holiday, not the religious aspect.

On a seperate note... in OJ we planted a few JNF trees - it was a lot of fun. Took about 10 minutes, but I'd be interested to see them in a few years.

By Blogger Ezzie, at Tue Dec 06, 11:27:00 PM GMT+2  

There are probably many things we all think that the JNF shouldn't be doing: but the JNF forests do belong to the JNF. What about your home, if you own it? Does that belong to you or to the Jewish People? You want to tell everyone who owns property in the land that in fact their property belongs to the Jewish People? (Don't answer that bit) And which section of the Jewish People? How would you feel if a group of Israeli Jews razed a thinning JNF forest to the ground and built a buddhist temple?

I do see why this might upset you. But further, Israel the country- ie you, me, the JNF and everyone else- can't officially "Not" support Christmas. Donating a tree or two (and we are talking small numbers) isn't endorsing Christianity- it remains a simple goodwill gesture, perhaps in response to how much tourism we (still, despite the intifada) get and got from pilgrims. And think about how many Christians also reside here, as citizens. And the millions around the world who stand in solidarity with the Jewish People and support our country and its citizens: NBN, anyone?

By Anonymous PP, at Tue Dec 06, 11:39:00 PM GMT+2  

Ezzie, those trees that OJ planted may have been used for.... I'm sure that the OJ rabbis would love that.

PP, the JNF is acting on behalf of the Jewish Peoople - that's why, up until recently, all land that they owned was only able ot be bought / lived on by Jews - everything they do is supposed to be in the name of the Jewish People - they are not some seperate, private entity. On the other hand, unless I ma mistaken, the Jewish People did not help buy my apartment for me. I do not recall anyone standing on street corners with little blue tzedakkah boxes collecting for my apartment - but thats what Jews all over the world did for the JNF and for Israel.

I'm willing ot accept donations though, if anyone is interested.

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