If not for the trees, human life could not exist.
Midrash Sifre (Deuteronomy) 20:19
Our ancestors understood that human life depends on trees. They understood this so deeply that they wrote about trees extensively and created a holiday, Tu BiShvat, to mark their new year.
Tu BiShvat, a minor Jewish holiday, was originally established for the purpose of tithing where every year, one-tenth of the harvest was offered to the temple to support the poor and priests. In the 16th century, the Kabbalists in Tzfat revived Tu BiShvat by instituting a seder meal that celebrated the tree’s life giving properties and as a symbol of G!d’s presence on earth. During the 19th and 20th centuries, trees became a powerful symbol of nation-building for Zionists in Israel and in the diaspora to participate in creating the state of Israel.
In the 21st century, Tu Bi’Shvat stands as one of the most important and relevant Jewish holidays. The new year of the trees offers us an annual opportunity to deepen our connection to trees and forests. Nurturing our relationship to trees is essential if we are to rebalance our planet and protect the biosphere. Our survival, at least in part, depends on the health, vitality and abundance of trees.
We need trees to clean the air, capture excessive carbon dioxide, beautify our cities, feed us, house us and inspire us. Tu BiShvat invites and encouragement us to actively celebrate and honour our tree friends, to return to our tree-hugging roots with pride and hope.
This year, show the trees your respect and admiration through action, connection and education.
Action: Adopt a Tree in our Forest for the future. Did you know that in 2017 we planted 11,000 tree at Bela Farm? The trees need your care and support. This year, we invite you to invest in our community’s forest by adopting a tree so that together, we can nurture our saplings to grow into a thriving forest for our grandchildren to learn and play in. Donate today!
Connection: Connect with the trees in real time at our Pruning Workshop and our Community hike! Watch this incredible Ted Talk about how trees communicate!
Education: Bring Shoresh home with our FREE Tu BiShvat Activity Kit and download this sourcesheet by our friends at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
Happy Chag Ha’Ilanot!