As the Jewish people across the world celebrate the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, so too are Present Barack Obama and his Administration. Israeli Ambassador Dan Shapiro took the opportunity to visit the memorial for the victims of the Carmel Fire of 2010. Following Jewish tradition, Shapiro planted an olive tree to commemorate the victims and as a symbol of “America’s deep-rooted friendship with Israel.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro plants a tree to symbolize U.S.-Israel friendship.
In Washington, members of the Administration gathered to plant a tree on the National Mall, next to the USDA headquarters. The ceremony was led by USDA National Resources and Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman, and was attended by leaders of the local Jewish community along with students from a local Jewish day school. Max Finberg of the White House Office of Public Engagement wrote:
After planting the dawn redwood, Sherman took the opportunity to highlight the importance of urban trees in both Israel and the United States. Sherman oversees the U.S. Forest Service, an agency that has more than a century of experience in managing America’s national forests and helping to sustain the nation’s forests for the benefit of generations to come. This week, other Obama Administration officials planted trees in Arizona, Colorado, and Israel as part of this commemoration.
Below, United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman celebrates Tu B’Shvat with 3rd graders from the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capitol in front of the USDA’s headquarters.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participating in tree plantings at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C in 2009.
As the Jewish people across the world celebrate this holiday of Tu B’Shvat, it seems appropriate to take a look at Obama’s strong record when it comes to protecting the environment. In April of 2010, Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, a program dedicated to American conservation efforts and to “reconnect Americans to the outdoors.” As the program has progressed, great strides have been taken in preserving our nation’s forests, parks, and rivers.
In November, the program was expanded even further, with the Interior Department identifying 101 high-priority conservation projects across all 50 states. The AP wrote:
The report outlines two projects in each state and one in the District of Columbia in various stages of development, ranging from the creation of an all-season trail system in Alaska’s Denali State Park to the completion of a 32-mile trail through urban areas in central Florida.
Four days ago, Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called for the formation of a new conservation program that would put veterans to work improving trails and restoring habitats, among other efforts.
The Administration has invested more than $90 billion in clean energy - the largest clean energy investment in our nation’s history. These critical investments have already created or saved hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and put the United States on a path to double renewable energy generation from 2008 levels by 2012.
As 50 Jewish community leaders demonstrated by signing on to the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14% by 2014, it is an important Jewish value to protect and care for our planet. On this Tu B’Shvat, it is clear that the Jewish community has an ally in the White House who shares this value.
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