Tu B'Shevat – Celebrating the Jewish New Year for trees

Friday, February 02, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
On the third day of creation, God created "seed-bearing plants, fruit trees after their kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it" (Genesis 1:11). God then put Adam in the garden to "till it and tend it" (2:15), making humans stewards of the earth.

Tu B'Shevat - the 15th day of the month of Shevat, which falls on Feb. 3rd this year - is the date used by farmers to calculate the year's crop yield and determine the tithe that the Bible requires, according to the Mishnah.

As the Jewish Arbor Day, Tu B'Shevat embodies a strong dedication to ecology, environmentalism and conservation.

"Tu B'Shevat reminds us that no matter what happens, we all have to share this planet and care for it," said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of Jewish National Fund.

During the early pioneer movement of Palestine in late 18th and early 19th century, Jewish settlers linked the environmentalism of Tu B'Shevat with the practice of planting trees in the land of Israel. In recent years, Jewish environmentalists adopted Tu B'Shevat as a "Jewish Earth Day," with organized meals, tree-plantings and ecological restoration activities, as a way to express a specifically Jewish commitment to caring for nature and protecting the land.

Celebrating Tu B'Shevat with a seder meal, has become traditional for families and congregations around the world. During a Tu B'Shevat seder, seven species of fruits and grains from Israel are blessed and eaten. The seven species are wheat, barley, grapes, fig, pomegranate, olive and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8).

In Israel, Tu B'Shevat is a time for families to get together, visit forests and plant trees.

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