Jody Comins
Jewish Mom, Lifelong Zionist, and Activist

We Interrupt This War for a Day in Paradise…

Our Olive Tree

Every Sunday morning of my childhood we’d hunt around the house for quarters to bring to Hebrew school so we could put it in the Keren Kayemet (JNF) card. At the end of the year we’d have enough quarters to plant a tree in Israel. We also had a blue JNF “pushke” next to our Shabbat candles and we’d put some pennies in each week to go towards a tree. In the book K’tonton in Israel, a 2 inch little boy stows away in his aunt’s suitcase to come to Israel and hopes to visit the tree he planted. My first trip to Israel in 1985 I planted a tree with my own 2 hands and daydreamed about finding any of the trees I planted. All Jews know the importance of planting trees here in Israel.

Today, a different dream came true, I visited my own Olive tree in Israel! A train ride to Binaymina and a car ride with our new friend, Kobi Assaf, we wended our way north to Moshav HaYogev (literally “the farmer”). To drive in the Jezreel Valley in Israel at this time of year feels like another world. There are 7 shades of green, almond trees are in bloom along the road, the views are tremendous and we were swallowed up in the beauty. Along the way, Kobi, (a former Major in the IDF Tank Unit who served in Lebanon from 1982-84) regaled us with stories of his life in Israel. He and his business partner, Yishai Gelb, founded “My Tree in Israel” and we were going to visit our tree. I’ve been in Israel for 3 1/2 weeks volunteering, visiting friends, and eating my way through the country and have felt safe the entire time.

I thought we’d spend an hour walking in the olive grove, hug our tree, and get back on the train but Kobi and Yishai had so much more planned for us. We visited the olive press where the olives are taken and made into the most delicious olive oil. From there we went to a bottling factory to see how the wine from our adopted grapevines are bottled. After that we went to the Jezreel Valley winery in Kibbutz Chanaton and met Yoseph, the winemaker. We learned about the winemaking process and then tasted 5 different wines while munching on cheese, olives, and nuts that they provided. The wines were incredible. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, the color of the wine was almost purple, and we toasted a L’chaim to our new friends.

To cap off the day we went to Kobi’s house to taste the private label whiskey that’s also part of the program. Kobi’s wife came in and she told me she works at Meir Shfeya, a youth aliyah village close by. I was there only 2 weeks ago with a group from Hadassah. We discovered we know many people in common. She then insisted on feeding us. Only in Israel do you get treated to such a personal experience.

So much of the news coming out of Israel is hard to process. We are beyond worried about the hostages that are still in Gaza, we’re scared about the pending war with Lebanon, and anti-semitism is rampant in the US. Today, for just a few hours, we put our worries on hold and spent the day in paradise.

About the Author
Jody Comins, MSW is a life-long Zionist and Israel activist since her early days working for the University Student Department of the American Zionist Youth Department. She lives outside of Boston with her husband. She is a Divorce & Family Mediator and volunteers as the National Hadassah Chair of Evolve Engagement. She leads several trips for women to Israel as part of one-two year engagement programs. She’s the author of “Speaking Out: Voices of Adult Children of Divorce” and is a “snowbird” in Tel Aviv.
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