Jewish National Fund Certificate
for a donation from Czechoslovak Jews
to the planting of trees
in memory of the victims of World War I
Jerusalem, 1930, heliogravure
New Year of Trees
The New Year of Trees (Heb. Tu bi-Shevat or Rosh ha-Shanah La-ilanot) is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat in the Jewish calendar. During the Temple period, this date was related to the separation of tithes on fruit (to this day in Israel, laws are still in force that are associated with such offerings). Tu bi-Shevat also marks the beginning of Spring in the Holy Land. Apart from minor changes in the liturgy, the festival is observed among Ashkenazi Jews primarily by the eating of 15 kinds of fruit; Sephardi Jews adopted a special mystical liturgy under the influence of the Safed Kabbalah (a mystic doctrine established in the 16th century in esoteric circles of Safed – now Tzefat in Israel). In the modern period, the festival is celebrated in Israel by the planting of trees, which is organized for children by the Jewish National Fund.
The Jewish National Fund (Heb. Keren kayemeth leIsrael, KKL) was established in 1901 by the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, with the main purpose of purchasing and developing land in Israel (then Palestine). The Fund’s activities are financed from donations made by private individuals and institutions. Aside from amelioration and other work, the Fund has always focused systematically on land forestation. The planting of trees is also what connects the certificate on display and the festival of Tu bi-Shevat, which falls on 13 February this year.