CAARI CelebratesTuB’Shevat by Marcia Bercov

Hello and greetings from Tel Aviv.
We arrived here on Thursday evening to a very warm welcome by our CAARI family, that is Canadian and American Active Retirees in Israel, a group of retired people from both the U.S. and Canada. Tour Coordinator Susan Horwitz and Tour Guide Neil Eisenstadt greeting us with hugs and gifts, while friends gave us a “welcome back” bouquet of beautiful flowers.
For the past few years we have joined CAARI in Israel for a very unique experience, combining community service in Tel Aviv with touring, other volunteer activities, lectures, and learning more about this amazing country.
Happily, the beginning of our stay this year coincided with the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, and thanks to an on time arrival by Air Canada, we managed to join the evening celebration only a few minutes after it began at the City Hotel in Tel Aviv. Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees is an annual holiday, a time for people of all ages to plant trees and celebrate the bounty of fruits of the earth. Our group joins together for a Tu B’Shevat Seder, during which we read about the meaning of the holiday, recite blessings, and drink wine, starting with white symbolizing the first flowers with their white blossoms, and gradually changing to red, as the colours of the flowers change with the season. Each table had a plate of dried fruits, figs, apricots, dates, raisins for everyone to share.
Of course there was music too, traditional and spirited songs played and sung by Gidi, a fine musician and friend of CAARI. Before long people started singing too, and after the readings, the dancing began. Almost everyone joined in, making a very lively and happy celebration.
The next morning, energized by a good night’s sleep and delicious Israel breakfast, we left at 7:45 a.m. for another celebration of Tu B’Shevat, this one in the forest near Modiin, part way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where JNF, Jewish National Fund organized a day of tree planting, and supplied some 15,000 seedlings. Here all over rocky hillsides, little white flags decorated the area. Each one marked a pre-dug hole, the right size for a tree seedling. First, members of our group each took a seedling, found a suitable place with a flag, and planted a tree, pressing the moist earth around it, and reciting a blessing over the tree. Then we took the flag as a reminder of our special commemoration of the holiday. After that, we went to work! On this holiday, Israelis come from far and near to plant trees. Our job was to actually give out the seedlings, mainly pine and cedar, to the people as they came by, and to direct them to the location for planting.
What a joy to see so many, especially young families with small children, who eagerly took a tree to plant.
Groups of school children came as well, and everyone climbed up the hillside to find a spot. Afterward we saw them leave holding their precious flags. We have ours as a memory of this special day.
In a few years this area will be covered with a forest which will form part of a green belt around Modiin.
More next time. Meanwhile, be well, and for those in Canada, stay warm!
Best wishes and shalom,
Marcia and Ron

The Canadian American Active Retirees in Israel, CAARI, offers active seniors a unique opportunity to experience Israel. The program is designed to explore the biblical landscapes, follow the footsteps of the early pioneers, and envision the future of our Homeland. The CAARI Program includes community service, toursa speakers forum and the camaraderie of the CAARI Family. The Program is designed for to feel, touch, hear and see Israel from the mountains to the desert, from sea to sea, and from ancient to modern.

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