Israelis around the country on Thursday marked the extra-biblical festival of Tu Bishvat, Judaism's "new year of the trees," or its Arbor Day.
Every year on Tu Bishvat, Israelis go out and plant trees. School children, especially, get in on the action with field trips to national forests, where the Jewish National Fund is called in to help the youngsters expand the Jewish state's wooded areas.
This year, the Knesset, too, got more into the holiday spirit with its first ever Tu Bishvat party.
Knesset members, government minister, religious figures and other dignitaries were invited to partake of a generous spread of traditional Tu Bishvat fare, including nuts, fruits and wines.
It was the first time the Knesset had so marked the holiday, which is not mentioned in the Bible, but was implemented by the rabbinical authors of the Mishnah as a means of calculating the beginning of the annual agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes.
The Knesset party was put on by the Tzohar rabbinical association and freshman MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) who, despite her secular appearance, has on several occasions wowed the nation with her dedication to biblical principles and her push to get fellow lawmakers to again study the Scriptures.
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