A Very Jewish Christmas Tree Giveaway

There is a scene in the famous 1964 Israeli film Sallah Shabati that satirizes a deep truth about American Jews: They can easily be seduced by something the rest of the world might see as a gimmick. In the film, as groups of earnest, well-heeled Americans are shown around a blossoming, soon-to-be JNF forest ostensibly named in honor of their generous donations, a foreman replaces a placard bearing their name as they leave with another bearing the name of a different American family. The film doesn’t demonize the organization that has been reforesting Israel for more than 100 years for duping well-intentioned donors, but instead mocks the almost uniquely American hope that by donating to the JNF they’re doing the next closest thing to digging into the earth and planting a tree themselves.

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