Rabbi Miriam Berger of Finchley Reform Synagogue introduces an initiative launched by the community this Tu B’Shevat.
אם אין אני לי, מי לי; וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני; ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי.(פרקי אבות, פרק א, משנה יד
‘Im ein ani li, mi li; uchshe’ani le’atzmi, ma ani; ve’im lo achshav, eymatay?’ Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 1:14
‘If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?’
“Having been in Haifa on Tuesday and seen the devastation of the Carmel fires, the fact that today is Tu B’Shevat feels even more poignant. Superficially it seems an irrelevance that as a religion in the 21st century we celebrate the New Year of the trees but it is easy to see how trees and agriculture have helped us to settle the land, created our connection there, and show us how we really have made the desert bloom. Find how you can help to rehabilitate the people and the land this Tu B’Shevat. אם אין אני לי, מי לי; If we as the Jewish people do not support each other, who will?
Today, I have a shovel in my hand and I am digging. The small group of us will be planting some 300 trees near the outpost of Adi Ad, on village lands of Tamasa’yu and Mughayyir to replant an olive grove belonging to Palestinian farmers that Israeli settlers have burnt down in their ‘price tag’ policy.
For every Israeli settlement the Israeli Government tries to dismantle, the settlers are retaliating by punishing the Palestinian farmers and cutting off their livelihood in an attempt to create war through an action that is meant to be creating peace.
This flyer shows how you too can still pay to have another sapling planted in the olive grove. Whoever thought that we would have to give tzedakah to make up for the destruction caused by our fellow Jews yet is truly the highest form of giving tzedakah, as we are not giving a hand out, we are giving them back their ability to earn a living.
וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני but if we only think of our own people, what does that make us?
I hope this Tu B’Shevat is a good New Year for you, one of looking inwards and outwards.”