Tu B’Shvat, the Birthday of the Trees that we just celebrated, took on new meaning as hundreds of people from all walks of life planted trees in memory of Ezra Schwartz in the newly established Ezra Schwartz Vineyard in Israel. Ezra, a young American Yeshiva student from Sharon, MA, was tragically murdered while learning and volunteering in Israel. The newly created vineyard has the complete endorsement and blessing of Ezra’s parents.
A one-minute video on the website http://www.trees4ezra.org shows Ezra’s parents and grandparents talking about the vineyard and shows them planting its first trees. They encourage others to plant trees as a meaningful and supportive gesture with their hope that the Ezra Schwartz Vineyard will become a beautiful and everlasting tribute to the young man they lost.
The charity has asked people around the world to plant trees in this special vineyard. Ezra was proud of his heritage and his land. He loved his fellow Jews until his final breath. He was so young, yet his enthusiasm and vitality were infectious even after his tragic death. This project is a way for everyone to join the Schwartz family in carrying on Ezra’s legacy.
Schools across the world have joined the effort and are sharing this opportunity with their students. Synagogues, houses of worship, and religious and communal organizations – recognizing that people want to be part of this initiative – have offered this opportunity to their members. Among the many schools which are involved are Striar Hebrew Academy (Sharon, MA), SAR Academy, Yavneh Academy, The Frisch School, Westchester Day School, Ben Porat Yosef, Yeshiva University High School, Nancy Reuben School of London, Torah Day School Atlanta, Mazel Day School, Denver Academy, Gross Schechter Day School, Shulamith of Brooklyn, Hebrew Academy Day School of Tampa Bay, Ida Crown Academy (IL), Solomon Schechter High School, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School (CA), HAFTR, and North Shore Hebrew Academy.
This project, which started on Tu B’Shvat, will continue for several months. It is being run by Zo Artzeinu – Israel Trees, an organization that has planted 150,000 new fruit trees in Israel and whose farmers keep all aspects of Jewish agricultural law.
Those interested in planting trees in the new Ezra Schwartz Vineyard can visit http://www.trees4ezra.org. Israeli farmers will plant and care for the trees and the vineyard can be visited by anyone at any time. By inviting people from all over the world to take part in this project, its organizers hope it will unite people who love Israel.