Tu B’Shvat- Digging through ancient dirt to plant new roots at the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation

When I was studying my first year in Israel, before I made aliya, we were required to volunteer once a week somewhere in Israel. I and a group of my friends chose to volunteer at the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation that sorted through the soil that had been removed from the Temple Mount during the excavations for Solomon's Stables.

There was a lot of controversy over the method of dirt disposal and the process of the excavation as discussed in this article, and a group got together and started sifting through the ruins to recover some of the artifacts that had been thrown out, including ancient coins, pieces of jewelry and many other items dating back thousands of years.

On Tu B’Shvat, 2005 I had my most meaningful Israel Tu B’Shvat experience while volunteering.

On the hill, over looking the Old City from just under the Hebrew University campus, where the dig was taking place at Emek Tzurim National Park, a man was planting olive trees. One of the dig volunteers went over and asked him if we could help.

We spent that afternoon digging through dirt as we normally did, but this time it was not just to recover old artifacts. It was to plant new roots.

While Tu B’Shvat celebrates the birthday of the trees that are planted throughout the entire year, there is something truly meaningful about being able to plant on Tu B’Shvat, looking over the city of Jerusalem, settling new roots into the ancient soil.