Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Growing a DIFFERENT Flower in Israel

Tonight ushers in the holiday of Tu B'Shevat in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. But it is here in Israel that Tu B'Shevat has real meaning. Here, we reconnect with the soil beneath our feet, the earth, the land of Israel. Here, Jewish children (and their parents) from every home, no matter what stripe of Judaism, go out onto empty hilltops or even in their own front yards to plant flowers and trees, and add more life into Israel's living earth.
Here, Tu B'Shevat is a memory that each of us carries forever - the Tu B'Shevat we planted on Efrat's Zayit hill when it was a desolate windy hilltop of our future dreams; the Tu B'Shevat we planted in Gush Katif before the destruction; the Tu B'Shevat when we all gathered in Efrat's B'erot Yonatan with Esther Pollard; the Tu B'Shevat last year in Gush Etzion's Netzer; and this year IY"H on Efrat's vast Eitam hill.
In our home, the table is set for the Tu B'Shevat Seder, which we hold every year with our children and our best friends - celebrating the Land of Israel and the bounty it produces, B"H.
You don't have to be a gardener to plant a tree on Tu B'Shevat. Or maybe I should say that on this holiday, all Jews become gardeners.

My daughter is a different kind of gardener. She is growing a "Perach". Perach is Hebrew for the word flower. So, it 's appropriate that today I speak about her flower, and the thousands of other special perachim (flowers).
As I said, perach means flower, but it is also an anacroym for Proyekt Chonchot, "mentoring project". My daughter is the gardener of a little girl from an underprivileged home. She tutors her and talks to her, makes projects with her and gives her the attention that she needs (because she, like many other little flowers, is from a home that could use a little extra help).
B"H my daughter is a great role model, but so are the other thousands of college and university students that raise their own flowers.
The Perach project began in 1974 with a handful of student at Weizmann Institute of Science. Today, about 15% of all college and university students mentor tens of thousands of needy children.Olam chesed yibaneh. The world is built on loving kindness. The Perach model is the largest one in the world, and has been a source of inspiration and support to other organizations that have used its model to help society in just about every country.
On this Tu B'Shevat, I bless my gardener, her flower, and all gardeners and flowers everywhere to grow and flourish, to blossom brightly and beautifully and continue making the world a better place.
To find out more about Perach, click here.


  1. Hashem should help Israel to always have occasions to celebrate. Tu B'Shevat is a yummy one. And your daughter is a yummy young lady full of compassion and the will to help the needy in whatever capacity they are lacking. (I know she has proven herself time and again.)