Orly Gibson (Israel365 photo)
For Tu B’Shevat: Planting for Prayer
Christians plant trees in Israel’s biblical heartland
---------- More than 100 Christians from around the world donated upwards of $10,000 in the two days leading up to Tu B’Shevat – the Jewish birthday of the trees – to “plant trees in the holy land and be blessed,” according to Tuly Weisz, founder and CEO of Israel365, whose charity fund spearheaded these efforts.
On January 30, the day before Israel marked the birthday of the trees with dried fruit ceremonies, Weisz and a small team of Jewish and Christian supporters planted olive trees in the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin and the Jewish section of Hebron.
“Our Christian tree donors are not only looking to help fulfill biblical prophecy, but to strengthen the Jewish presence throughout the land of Israel,” said Weisz. “The orchards we planted in Bat Ayin are stopping the Palestinian land grab and fortifying the Jewish communities in Gush Etzion. The trees we planted at Maharat HaMachpela [the Cave of the Patriarchs] strengthen our roots in a place that Bible believers hold so dear.”
The Christian donors were told that the rabbi would pray for and bless them during the tree planting ceremonies. He not only did that, he allowed them to see it for themselves by broadcasting it on Facebook Live.
When Evangelical Christians started giving money to Israel 35 years ago, their money was not always welcomed, because their motives were questioned.
Today, however, it is widely accepted – and even celebrated – by the Israeli government that Christian Zionists pour hundreds of millions of dollars toward Israeli causes each year, including for settlement expansion. A 2009 report by National Public Radio said Christian Zionists are raising millions of dollars for the settlements, which critics view as an obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
These Christian Zionists, however, see it as their religious obligation to “bless those who bless you,” as it states in Genesis 12.
“Tears welled up in my eyes and I bowed my head down in prayer,” said Beth Madras, a Christian Zionist supporter from New York, about seeing her name read at the planting on Facebook. “I love Israel and Jerusalem with all my heart, and I pray for the people every day…I will be sure to do this year after year after year.”