January 23, 2023
TuBishvat – The New Year for the Trees
Originally published by Jewish Phoenix
Did you get your tree a birthday present yet? On the Jewish calendar, TuBishvat marks one of the four Jewish New Years, the one for trees. This holiday celebrates when all the trees turn a year older. This custom started in biblical times because every fourth year the fruit on trees was supposed to be reserved for G-d and not consumed by humans. This holiday created a “birthday” for the trees to track how old they were and when the fruit could be eaten. Now, modern Jews usually celebrate the holiday by planting new trees and honoring our lovely little planet.
In honor of TuBishvat, we are sharing some of the ways our borrowers not only gave back, but did so in a way that helps Mother Earth. A special component of an interest-free student loan from JFL, is that borrowers are asked to complete a Tikkun Olam Project. Tikkun Olam, meaning “repairing the world” is usually performed through an act of community service. Read below to hear the stories of real JFL student loan borrowers making a big impact in the world.
Picture yourself in a quiet wooded oasis. Smell the crisp fresh air and the hint of campfire. One student loan borrower volunteered for Camp Swift, a sleep away camp for low-income kids in the beautiful Prescott Pines. The organization gives kids, who may never have been able to attend sleepaway camp, the full experience. Sharing his love not only for camp, but for the great outdoors was a great way to inspire future generations to care for the planet. (Fun fact: Did you know JFL provides interest-free loans for Jewish summer camp?)
When it comes to Earth’s inhabitants, some of the most beloved have four legs, fur, and a wet nose. Two student loan borrowers gave back by helping dogs and cats in shelters. One borrower helped take care of and play with shelter animals as well as donated pet supplies. Giving attention to dogs and cats in a shelter is a great way to do Tikkun Olam!
The other student loan borrower volunteered at a free spay and neuter clinic for shelter pets. This kind of procedure can cost hundreds of dollars at a veterinarian’s office. Taking care of pets can be quite costly, and JFL understands. (In fact, we have a special interest-free loan just for veterinary bills.)
Replenishing the River
Another student loan borrower used his Tikkun Olam project to literally repair the world. The Arizona State University engineering major took his talents to the Navajo Nation as part of the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He helped construct a dam to prevent erosion and replenish the river that flows through the Shanto community of the Navajo Nation. This helped preserve the traditional way of farming for the community.
To apply for an interest-free student loans visit http://www.jewishfreeloan.org/student-loans.