IDC Herzliya Tree Planting Ceremony in Memory of the Holocaust

FEB 28,2017

On February 5th, the IDC Herzliya Student Union held a tree planting ceremony in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors. The event was held in the presence of Prof. Uriel Reichman, President and Founder of IDC Herzliya, Holocaust Survivors and IDC Student Union Delegation to Poland

Prof. Uriel Reichman, President and Founder of IDC Herzliya, spoke at the event, saying: “we are coming close to ‘Tu Bishvat’. Not many know that Tu Bishvat was not originally conceived as a virtue of planting. The planting theme starts in the Land of Israel by the first teachers in Zichron Yaakov, who celebrated this holiday by planting. This was how the new Jewish settlement celebrated its connection to the land.

IDC’s student delegation to Poland returned with an understanding and a sensitivity which it didn’t have before. Every person in the delegation experienced touching and meaningful encounters of grief and pain, and a sense of connection with the most dreadful of the Jewish people’s ordeals.

There is no Jew unburned by the fires of Auschwitz, carrying this feeling in the collective memory for eternity. Greatness comes from salvaging something good out of this disaster, this unprecedented act of barbarity: a commitment to the continuation of the Jewish people. The students found a wonderful way to express that. Planting a tree in the soil of the homeland is the answer. It is the answer in a sense that we continue to build and plant for a better future for the Jewish people. The fact that the olive tree was selected for this occasion holds an element of hope and faith in peace.

IDC was established first and foremost in order to train the future leadership. In this educational way we must remember, acknowledge, feel and endure in the face of a troubled past, a hope for the future and a commitment for the continuation of the Jewish people. An existence of strength and protection, of military might; alongside humanity and empathy for others.

I must say that this event was not an initiative of the IDC administration, but of the students and their leadership. I am proud that these are our students, and that this is their way of expressing themselves. Through these initiatives I draw hope that future leaders will know to hold their heritage close to their hearts. A heritage of the continued existence of the Jewish people in Israel and the values of humanity.

I wish to thank the IDC Student Union which initiated this event and to all the participants who joined us here today”.

Tom Berman, Chairperson of the Student Union at IDC, also spoke at the event saying: “we have just finished the first semester, and I believe there isn’t a more better and meaningful manner to do so, but to plant an olive tree here, in the heart of campus – symbolically, alongside students and Holocaust survivors, which we are excited and proud to host here today.

The olive tree is widely spread over our land. It is more than common here, it originated here in Israel: seven olive trees near Karmiel were estimated to have been over 3000 years old. As one of the Seven Species, it is a very important foundation to our everyday lives; “a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey”. Its greatest advantage, and perhaps its most symbolic for our purpose, is its yearlong look – the tree never sheds its leaves, and is vivid throughout the seasons. Also, the roots of the olive tree are strong, and they can grow even thorough hard rocks.

The olive tree has been around since biblical times, where the land of Israel is called a “land of olive and of oil”, when the olive was first mentioned in the story of the Flood, when Noah sent a pigeon out, and it returned with a branch of an olive tree – a scene which has been associated with peace. The tree is also mentioned in Mark Twain’s travels to Israel in 1867, where he describes the abandoned and forgotten Galilee: “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being during the entire route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country”.

Following the return of the Jewish people to Israel and the establishment of the State of Israel in the 20th century, olive plantations have been restored and new ones planted. It is a sign of strength, stability and the historic connection to this land.

Last November, 80 students and faculty members traveled to Poland as part of the IDC student union delegation. An emotional meaningful delegation, which is unique among students. We dedicate today the planting of this tree in memory of six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and thereby continue to never forget”.