Thursday, February 23, 2012

Manitoba and Saskatchewan Jews raise money to plant acacia trees in Negev Desert's Arava Valley

As reported by Myron Love in the Winnipeg Jewish Post & News, January 25, 2012:

The acacia tree, mentioned often in the Torah, is a native variety that grows in Israel in the hot areas of the Judean Desert and the eastern Negev. It is from the wood of the acacia tree (shittim wood) from which the Ark of the tabernacle was made.

And it is the acacia tree which is the focus of this year’s Jewish National Fund Manitoba and Saskatchewan region annual Tu B’Shevat campaign. Over the years, Tu B’Shevat has become synonymous with the Jewish National Fund’s annual campaign that supports reforestation projects and community development in Israel. JNF Manitoba and Saskatchewan region has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been spent to green deserts, build playgrounds and develop advanced agricultural techniques which produces rich farmland...JNF Manitoba and Saskatchewan region has chosen to promote the Adopt an Acacia Project for the 2012 Tu B’Shevat campaign as part of its efforts to green the Negev.

“This project is aimed at developing the Negev’s Arava Valley and enhancing the quality of life for the people living in the region,” says Rob Berkowits, the JNF Manitoba and Saskatchewan region’s still relatively new executive director, who recently returned from his first official visit to Israel much enthused by what he saw.

The acacia trees in the Arava flower in April through December. The white to pale yellow flowers later develop into bunches of pods. The pods contain several hard seeds, high in crude protein (38%) and phosphorus and are very nutritious for human as well as animal consumption. The foliage is also edible and provides food and shade for animals, insects and insect-feeding birds whom nest in its branches.

By planting acacia trees in the Arava Valley, the JNF will be working to rehabilitate the valley’s landscape, enhance sustainable agricultural opportunities in the area and enable researchers to explore the factors that determine how an acacia seed grows into a healthy tree.

See Exodus chapters 25-27 for the account of the building of the tabernacle.

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