The Governor, the Chief Minister and the Minister for the Environment each planted Etrog trees (Citrus Medica) in the education area of the Alameda Botanical Gardens yesterday, during a ceremony organised by Gibraltar Jewish community as part of an environmental initiative spanning the Commonwealth.
The tree planting represented the Jewish Community of Gibraltar’s contribution to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative, which was embraced and adopted by the Jewish Commonwealth Council.
The initiative has seen a number of Commonwealth countries dedicating forestry projects or planting new forests or other types of arboriculture and vegetal activities.
Etrog is a fruit prominent in the liturgy during the Jewish Festival of the Tabernacles.
Due to the size of Gibraltar, it was noted at the ceremony yesterday that only six Etrog trees could be planted. The saplings were cultivated in Taroudant, near Agadir in Morocco.
At the event, the president of the Jewish Community, James Levy, addressed the crowd and informed them of the importance of both the tree, its fruit and the contribution being made.
His words were followed by readings by three Jewish boys. Yitzchak Bitan from the Hebrew Primary School described how in Judaism, “trees have always occupied a significant and revered role.” He then read from Genesis and Deuteronomy.
Levy Chocron from Gibraltar Boys Secondary School said the “Torah itself is referred to as the Tree of Life”, before reading from both the Proverbs and the Psalms.
Max Castiel from Bayside Secondary School said that “the Prophets extol the worth of trees for livelihood as well as for nutrition,” and read from Jeremiah and Joel.
The Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, planted the first tree, followed by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and finally the Minister for Environment Dr John Cortes. Mr Levy also planted a tree.
Following the tree planting, Communal Rabbi, Rabbi Noiky Roberts, read a prayer which is an adaption of the prayer composed by the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Meir Hai Uziel, for planting trees in the Israel.
To close the ceremony, the Rabbi of Gibraltar, Rabbi Ronnie Hassid, said a prayer for the royal family. This follows the Jewish tradition of praying for the welfare of the head of state of whatever country they live in, as advised by Prophet Jeremiah in 586BC.