When I was a child, on almost any gift-giving occasion, my grandmother Ida in addition to buying a gift, would tell me that she planted a tree in Israel for me. It wasn’t just for me though, she did this for each of my three siblings as well. As a child, I often thought that there was a forest in Israel named after us. I always imagined one of those brown National Forestry signs with SIEGEL FOREST printed boldly on it, proudly standing in front of a grove of trees. Using conservative figures, I reckon this forest must have had at least 100 trees in it.
Of course, now that I’m older I realize they don’t keep track of the trees planted in Israel that way. Sadly, there is no sign with our name on it. Nevertheless, giving the gift of a tree planted in Israel is one of the more popular gifts here in the US that directly connects us to Israel. This is a particularly popular gift during Tu B’Shevat.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
The Jewish National Fund or JNF was the original tree planting organization. Founded by Theodore Hertzl to raise money for purchasing land in what was then Palestine, the JNF would immediately begin planting trees in their newly acquired lands. Now, the JNF has an entire “Tree Planting Center”. From here, you can buy a single tree or an entire Grove (even bigger than the Siegel Forest!) Upon ordering, they will send you a certificate in the name of the recipient and offer a variety of designs for different occasions.
Hadassah is the other main organization which offers tree planting packages. Hasassah is the organization my grandmother used and was a member of. Hadassah is a volunteer women’s organization which fosters support for and interaction with Israel. Their service will also send you a certificate and like the JNF you can buy 1 tree or many.
In either method above, you don’t have to rely on the organization’s certificate. You can make a card or your own commemoration if you are crafty.
TREE PLANTING TOURISM
If you are desirous to actually plant the tree yourself in Israel, there are numerous organizations which will facilitate this for you. I don’t know first-hand which are reputable, however Googling “tree planting Israel” will give you more than enough names to begin researching. It’s a little too late for Tu B’Shevat this year but you know what they say…next year in Jerusalem!