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Archive for : Tu Bishvat

Tu B’Shevat Promotes Sustainability

This article originally appeared in The Jewish Exponent on February 7, 2018.

By Selah Maya Zighelboim

A Tu B’Shevat Midrash recounts the story of an old man planting a carob tree.

When confronted with the question of why he’s planting the tree, as it probably won’t bear fruit until after he has died, the old man responds that he’s planting it for future generations, as his ancestors planted trees for him.

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Tu Bishvat Across America (Find an Event Near You)

New Year’s Eve has come and gone which means it’s time for 2016’s first Jewish holiday: Tu Bishvat! Commonly called the holiday for the trees (or Jewish Arbor Day), Tu Bishvat is an ancient holiday that has evolved and changed throughout the centuries into a celebration of tikkun olam (repairing the world), connecting to the environment, eating seasonal and ancient biblical fruits, and having fun at seder celebrations.

Over the last decade, celebrating Tu Bishvat has moved from the fringe to the mainstream. There are lots of great opportunities and events to honor Tu Bishvat around the country. Whether you’re a synagogue goer or more of a nature lover (or both), find one near you and plug in!

New York City (with Repair the World!): On January 24, join Repair the World and Kolot Chayeinu for a mystical Tu Bishvat seder experience. Meet our awesome NYC Fellows, sing, sample a delicious variety of fruits and nuts, and get hooked into the interconnectedness of all things.

New York City: If you are looking for something truly unique this Tu Bishvat, head to the 92Y’s Enchanted Rainforest Tu Bishvat Dinner on January 22. This earth friendly dinner includes lots of locally sourced fruits and veggies and tropical sounds to highlight some great singing.

New York City: Love great music? Celebrate the holiday of the trees on January 25 at the Manhattan JCC with a concert featuring some of the city’s most compelling artists.

Chicago: On January 26, head to the Chicago Botanical Garden for a family freindly Tu Bishvat celebration. Plant a seedling, enjoy a special Tu Bishvat book reading, and explore the trees in the greenhouse.

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love’s own Morris Arboretum is celebrating Tu Bishvat. From January 24-31, student groups can take part in an interactive tree education program. They’ll even get to take home a birch tree seedling.

Washington DC: The DC JCC is hosting multiple Tu Bishvat events this year – a family seder on January 25 and a brunch on the 31st that’s equal parts earth-friendly and entertaining.

Berkeley: Urban Adamah’s “divine sensory” seder (featuring farm crafted libations and a six course local, kosher menu) is sold out for the year. But check it out online because it looks amazing – and mark your calendar to get tickets early next year!

San Diego: On January 24 the Leichtag Foundation will host the Food Forest Festival, an all-day celebration featuring tree planting and a live concert.

Seattle: Have a little person in your life? On January 21 take them to The Seattle Public Library for a special Tu Bishvat story time co-sponsored by PJ Library.

Redwoods, California Join Wildnerness Torah on January 24 for an experiential and totally natural Tu Bishvat seder in the Redwood forest. Where better to celebrate than amongst the trees?

DIY / Anywhere: Don’t see an event in your area? Make one yourself! The awesome Jewish sustainability organization, Hazon put together a great collection of resources on their website to help you plan your own amazing Tu Bishvat seder.

Celebrate Tu Bishvat with Repair the World and Around the Country

Hey everyone, it’s time for Tu Bishvat – a.k.a. The Jewish holiday for the trees. Tu Bishvat is an ancient holiday that has evolved and changed throughout the centuries into a celebration of tikkun olam (repairing the world), connecting to the environment, eating seasonal and ancient biblical fruits, and having fun at seder celebrations.

There are lots of great ways to celebrate around the country – including with Repair the World’s own Fellows. Plug in and get connected to Tu Bishvat!

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DIY Sukkah: Make it Green and Awesome

With all due respect to Tu Bishvat (aka the Jewish Arbor Day), Sukkot is the Jewish calendar’s eco-friendly poster child.

For starters, the week long holiday celebrates the harvest. Throughout the week Jews celebrate by dining, star-gazing, and sometimes even sleeping in a handmade, outdoor hut made from natural materials called a sukkah. Furthermore, they carry around an etrog (a fragrant, lemon-like citrus fruit) and a lulav (a bundle of date palm fronds and other branches), which they wave around at services and inside their sukkah.

With so many natural green connections, it is a no-brainer to celebrate Sukkot with sustainability and the environment in mind. Here are some ideas to keep your holiday green and awesome:

Decorate Local Farmer’s markets are brimming with squash, gourds, dried corn, dried flowers and other autumnal goodies this time of year. So forget the plastic fruit and stock up on beautifully, locally-grown decorations.

Recycled Chic Back in the 1990s, trendy decorators strung unwanted CDs from their sukkahs like tiny, flat disco balls. Bring back that retro idea and add to it: string together corks from old wine bottles, or make a chain out of toilet paper tubes painted in different colors.

Educate, Beautifully Paint your favorite environmental quotes on recycled paper and hang them around the sukkah. Or, make a banner to spark conversation about climate change in the sukkah.

Sustainable Supper Once you are all decorated, invite your friends over for a vegetarian potluck meal. Invite people to bring a plate to reduce waste, or if you must go disposable, use compostable dishes.

Donate, Donate. Invite friends to bring canned goods and other non-perishables to dinner and set up a collection box inside your sukkah. Bring donated food to a soup pantry after the holiday.

Talk Green. Start an environmental discussion at your Sukkot table. Bring printouts of texts and resources to get you started.

Find more sustainable Sukkot tips on Hazon’s website. How are you adding DIY or eco-friendly touches to your Sukkot celebration?

Taking Climate Change to Task on Tu Bishvat

The official word is in – it’s hot out there! Scientists recently proclaimed 2012 to be the hottest year ever recorded, and in Australia, temps have skyrocketed so much, they had to redraw the weather map to accommodate the rising heat.

In addition to the literal warming of the globe, which increases drought, wildfires and dangerously hot summers, climate change is linked to the increase of drastic and damaging weather events – floods, hurricanes, tornadoes – that we have witnessed in recent years, most recently with Hurricane Sandy.

The Jewish holiday of Tu Bisvhat begins this Friday night, January 25th. Originally an ancient agricultural tax holiday in Israel, Tu Bishvat has evolved into the Jewish calendar’s answer to Earth Day – a day to reconnect to nature, celebrate its gifts, and evaluate how we can help safeguard the planet for future generations. With climate change making more and more headlines (and not for positive reasons), the time to act is now. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • COEJL: Be a clean-energy advocate! Join the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life’s Jewish Energy Network to gain the skills you need to make a difference in your community. You can also sign up for COEJL’s community organizing training in Washington DC, Mar 13-14.
  • Jewish Farm School: Check out this awesome organization’s (and Repair the World partner) Feast Forward video series, which covers all sorts of important environmental and agricultural topics, including an inspiring interview with’s co-founder, Bill McKibben.
  • Hazon: Learn about the connections between Jewish tradition and teaching and climate change (there are more than you might think!) on Hazon’s blog.
  • Join in 350’s growing movement to encourage colleges and universities to divest financial support for fossil fuels. Whether you’re a current student, or an alum, there are plenty of ways to make a difference at your alma matter.
  • Sierra Club: Take part in the Sierra Club’s campaign to move America “beyond oil – they give you all the tools you need to influence your congressperson, support green fleets, and more.

Jewish tradition reminds us about the importance of taking care of the earth. With that inspiration in mind, how will you help make a difference? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld, or in the comments below.