It is Christmas tree season for the Jewish National Fund. Each year, KKL-JNF distributes sustainably sourced Christmas trees free of charge or for a small fee to make the holidays brighter to monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists and others looking for some holiday cheer.
Many of the trees are grown in a special lot near the JNF offices in Givat Yishayahu. The Arizona cedars take around three years to reach their final height of approximately six feet, when they are distributed to the public as Christmas trees.
In Northern Israel, JNF grows Arizona cedars in special forest plots, and thin out the areas at Christmastime, allowing the felled trees to be put to good use as Christmas trees and preventing people from going into the forest and chopping down their own tree.
This year in Jerusalem, thanks to a partnership between the Jerusalem Municipality and JNF, Christians can get their own Arizona Cedar for free. Three days before Christmas, Christian residents within the capital city will be able to pick-up their own responsibly-sourced Christmas tree to help celebrate the holiday.
According to a press release published by the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Christmas tree distribution is aimed at sending the message that the city is proud of its unique position as the cradle of three world religions.
“As the home of the three Abrahamic traditions, Jerusalem is dear to over 3.5 billion people of varying faiths around the world. Our city is proud to be an open city, with freedom of religion for all residents,” the statement read.
In addition to the long tradition of distributing Arizona cedars, JNF also provides trimmings from pine trees, gathered during routine tree care, to be used as decorations in Christian homes and organizations.
“It’s a gesture,” JNF CEO Russell Robinson said. “A way to welcome and accommodate those who do not celebrate Hanukkah but who still live in the Jewish state.”