Tu BiShvat (New Year for Trees) 2021 / 5781 בִּשְׁבָט טוּ - (New Year for Trees) Film Screeningand Discussion: The Village Under the Forest

Come and join IJV's Online Chavurah to explore the Jewish National Fund's role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and its relation to Tu BiShvat, the new year of the trees.

This year, Tu BiShvat will take place from the evening of Wednesday, January 27, until the evening of Thursday, January 28.

View from Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb, JNF trees on the horizon.

View from Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb, JNF trees on the horizon.

Trees have long served political purposes, both symbolic and practical, in Palestine/Israel. From the early days of the last century, the Jewish National Fund collected coins in its Blue Box campaigns, particularly in North America and Europe, to plant trees to "make the desert bloom." The millions raised by the JNF supported the demolition of hundreds of Palestinian villages and the planting of environmentally disastrous pine forests in an ecosystem where they did not belong. Moreover, these forests were intended to prevent Palestinian refugees from ever returning to their villages and rebuilding their homes.

Today the JNF continues to use Tu BiShvat for fundraising, and it schedules major tree-planting events in these forests every Tu BiShvat.

Therefore, in honour of Tu BiShvat, we are coming together on Sunday the 24th of January at 1 pm Eastern Time to watch Heidi Grunebaum and Mark Kaplan’s feature-length documentary film, The Village Under the Forest (Grey Matter Media, 2013), which shows these and other aspects of the role of the JNF in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. After the film, we will have a discussion with filmmaker Heidi Grunebaum.

Event schedule:

1:00 am EST / 10:00 pm PST / 6:00 pm GMT / 8:00 pm CAT - Welcome

1:15 pm EST / 10:15 am PST / 6:15 pm GMT / 8:15 pm CAT - Film Screening

2:15 pm EST / 11:15 am PST / 7:15 pm GMT / 9:15 pm CAT - What can we do?

2:30 pm EST / 11:30 am PST / 7:30 pm GMT / 9:30 pm CAT - Q & A - with Heidi Grunebaum

3:15 pm EST / 12:15 pm PST / 8:15 pm GMT / 10:15 pm CAT - Closing

This film screening/film discussion is co-presented by the Jewish Liberation Theology Institute, the IJV #StopJNFCanada campaign, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Canada, and the Hamilton Voices of Palestine Film Series.

You must register in advance for this meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


JeLiThIn’s Community Pilot Group

Building community through text study and personal reflection

At our core, we humans are tribal. We like to belong to groups of individuals with similar views, thoughts and interests. There is comfort being among others who are like-minded.

We want to feel a sense of belonging.

Hands surrounding flame

As Jews whose ethical heritage does not permit us to be silent in the face of Israel’s violent oppression of the Palestinian people, we are often turned off by the tacit acceptance of this oppression granted through the deafening silence of the Jewish establishment.

Our politics come from a deeply spiritual place. But it is our politics, inextricably linked to our deepest values, that exclude us from Jewish institutions, often forcing us to choose between integrity and Jewish community.

This leaves us feeling frustrated and disappointed. We yearn for a sense of belonging, a community we can call home. We long to be able to talk with like-minded people. We feel isolated and rejected. We ask ourselves: How can we find a Jewish community without checking our politics and our values at the door?

What if we told you that there is a way to connect with like-minded Jews? Can you imagine what it would feel like to find a strong community of like-minded people?

It can be scary to reach out to a community because you want to be confident that you will be able to connect with people. But we want to invite you to take the next step towards finding community.

We are continuing our online text study groups to connect people who identify as Jewish and feel isolated because of their views about Palestine.

We are coming together to create a community of like-minded people where we all feel safe, welcome, accepted, and connected.

Find out more about JeLiThIn’s Community Pilot Group.


Synagogues’ silence on Palestine a moral failure

We are deeply pained that some synagogues in our community enforce misplaced ethnic loyalty more than the ethical values of our religious tradition.  The Biblical commandments

“You shall not steal"
"You shall not covet"
"You shall not move the boundary marker of your neighbor”
are ignored. 
“Justice, justice you shall pursue”
is forgotten.  

Support for the government of Israel, regardless of its immoral actions, now takes precedence.

We cannot honor or participate in religious institutions that are silent when the State of Israel, supported by the Trump administration, subjugates an entire population and strips them of their land, their homes, their human rights, and even their very lives.  We cannot pray in a community that willfully blinds itself.  We cannot celebrate the Divine Presence among others who, by their silence, deny the divine image in our fellow human beings. 

Particularly at this time, parts of the Jewish community strenuously promote themselves as allies of oppressed minorities here and elsewhere.  Some Jewish organizations express concern about police violence in the U.S. and in Canada.  Their silence as Jews in the face of extreme ongoing Israeli violence and oppression of the people of Palestine is intolerable and inexcusable.  Jewish people everywhere must condemn those institutions’ silence and complicity.

In this video, Hamilton Conservative Rabbi, Lucia Pizarro, expresses opposition to the Israeli occupation and annexation of Palestinian land, and condemns synagogues that are silent about it.
Video courtesy of Henry Evans-Tenbrinke

In this video, Rabbi David Mivasair condemns Jewish religious institutions that remain silent about Israel's immoral annexation of Palestinian lands.
Video courtesy of Henry Evans-Tenbrinke