Tu B’Shvat: Something for Everyone

February 10, 2020

Tu B’Shvat:  Something for Everyone

Tu B’Shvat, the "New Year of the Trees" is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat, occurring this year at sundown February 9 through sundown February 10. Scholars believe that originally Tu B’Shvat was an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. In the 17th century, Kabbalists created a ritual for Tu B’Shvat similar to a Passover seder in which foods indigenous to Israel are eaten (i.e. dates, figs, almonds, grapes) and stories which include topics of trees and nature are told.

In the 20th century , Tu Bishvat became a symbol of Zionist attachment to the land of Israel Early Zionist settlers to Israel began planting new trees not only to restore the ecology of the desert, but as a symbol of renewed growth of the Jewish people returning to their ancestral homeland. In our day, Tu’ BShvat provides an opportunity to support the Jewish National Fund, an organization devoted to reforesting Israel ( www.jnf.org).

Tu’B’Shvat has taken on additional significance as a Jewish ‘Earth Day’. Every human being on the planet is effected in some way by climate change, deforestation, the effects of fossil fuels, the overuse of unrecyclable materials, the loss of biodiversity…. And the list goes on. Thus the New Year of the Trees is a time for us to redouble our efforts to raise our awareness of the challenges we face and make a commitment as a family or with friends to focus on specific concern for advocacy and /or adopt an environmental practice.

If you are into history and ritual, Tu B’Shvat is for you. If are a passionate Zionist or environmentalist, Tu B’Shvat is for you as well. Here’s hoping that we all find our way to a meaningful celebration.

Happy Tu B’Shvat!
Rabbi Judith Beiner

To find out more about how the Jewish Community is involved in working towards and environmentally stable world, see www.hazon.org.

If you are interested in attending a Tu B’Shvat Seder, check with your synagogue or Jewish Community Center. To get involved in local tree-planting efforts, check out Trees Atlanta www.treesatlanta.org.

More information about the holiday and its celebrations can be found at www.myjewishlearning.com.