In Israel and Jewish communities around the world Tu B’shvat (the birthday of trees) is often thought of as the Jewish environmental awareness day. The holiday is a celebration of land, plants, and the seasons of Israel.
Like on Pesach and Rosh Ha’shanah, there is a seder for Tu B’shvat that highlights the fruits of Israel. Included in the Tu B’shvat seder are the seven species of plants mentioned in the Torah as native to the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Tu B’shvat is one of my favourite festivals, and of course we are talking about delicious food and beautiful places in Israel.
DATES – Dates have been growing in the Land of Israel since times of the Torah, and to yield a sweet flavor they need hot and dry conditions. Kibbutz Lotan, one of the first reform kibbutzim in Israel, is located in the south of Israel in the Arava Desert and has the perfect environment for date production.
ALMONDS – The blossoming of almonds is one of the first indicators that spring has arrived in Israel. Near Beer Sheva, in 1965, Kibbutz Hatzerim became one of the first kibbutzim to transition from agriculture to industry. They were shown a huge tree on a farm that was being watered by little drops from a leaky pipe. Instead of trying to fix the pipe, they got an idea: What if farmers could use pipes that drip to water their crops? And this is one of the ways the almonds are grown in Israel.
GRAPES and POMEGRANATES – Grapes, and more specifically wine, play a major part in many Jewish holiday rituals.
The immigrants fleeing the pogroms of Russia in the 1880’s, came to Israel with the goal of establishing agricultural communities. After an unsuccessful attempt they enlisted the help of the wealthy philanthropist Baron Edmond de Rothschild. And with his support, they succeeded in of the Carmel Wineries and vineyards.
Those are just some of the fruits we can use in our seder for this festival.
May your Tu B’shvat seder table be filled with meaning, love, warmth and great fruits.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Julia Margolis (exploring-kibbutzim-tu-bshvat/ festivals)