Israeli leaders celebrated yesterday the start of Tu B’Shvat, the “green” Jewish festival that began last night at sundown.

Knesset members took part in the festive ceremony in Jerusalem, sharing wine, fruit and other treats in the lead up to the holiday.

“Tu B’Shvat and this planting are a deep expression of hope and faith. We believe in the future of our country. We returned to our country in order to stay here,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the event.

The Knesset ceremony was organized by the Tzohar national-religious rabbinical association.

“When I was young I couldn’t even imagine the scent of the fruits of Israel and its vistas, they were a far-off desire of my heart,” said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at the event.

“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winters but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland.”

“This holiday serves to remind all of us of the beauty of the land we live in and to better recognize the importance of everything we have,” added MK Ruth Calderon.

Israeli President Shimon Peres also stuck with tradition, planting a tree with local children this week.

Peres

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