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Resources for Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for Trees, and falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat.  We hope the following articles and resources will be helpful as you plan for Tu B’Shvat.

Jewcology: Core Teaching #1: Trees, Torah, and Caring for the Earth 

These materials are posted as part of Jewcology’s “Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment,” in partnership with Canfei Nesharim.  Learn more at http://www.jewcology.com/content/view/Year-of-Jewish-Learning-on-the-Environment.

The Jewish Week: A Call to Action on Energy Policy:

By: Rabbi Steve Gutow and Rabbi David Saperstein: This month we celebrate Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish new year for trees. Building on this ancient celebration of nature, American Jews are, increasingly, expanding their observance by honoring our entire planet. Tu b’Shvat has become a time to reflect on Earth’s fragility, its dwindling resources and humankind’s impact on water, air and land, as well as on the people, animals and plants that dwell here.

JTA: Our Tu B’Shvat Responsibility:

By: Rabbi Steve Gutow and Rabbi David Saperstein: WASHINGTON (JTA) — As the holiday of Tu b’Shevat approaches, congregations and families prepare to look at the natural world with wonder and celebrate the abundance of earth’s incredible resources. At many of our celebrations, we will read from Ecclesiastes 1:4: “One generation goes, another comes, but the earth remains the same forever.”

New Jersey Jewish News: Faith in Action

Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for the Trees, is a holiday of renewal. It celebrates the return of fertility after a dormant season (in Israel, anyway), as well our renewal of commitments to God. The holiday derives from a verse in Deuteronomy, in which we are commanded to commit a portion of the land’s yield to the poor, “so that you may learn to revere your God forever.”

Tu B’Shvat: A Time to Celebrate Trees

By: Michal Smart Source: A packet of Educational Materials produced by COEJL A resource for why we celebrate Tu B’Shvat and what we can do to celebrate this holiday.

Simple Tu B’Shvat Hagaddah

Background: Named for the 15th day of the month of Shevat, this festival is known as the New Year of the Trees or the Trees’ Birthday. Although it’s hard to believe when you live in New England, this time of year is the beginning of spring in the Middle East. The first almond blossoms have opened and the sap in the trees is beginning to rise. Therefore, it’s traditional to eat fruits from Israel on Tu B’Shevat: figs, dates, grapes, olives, pomegranates. It’s also traditional to eat fruits you haven’t tasted in a long time (or ever), and to say the Shehechiyanu (a prayer for experiencing something new.) While the holiday has changed over the centuries, today in the U.S., it is seen as a time to celebrate nature and affirm our relationship to the Earth.

Tu B’Shvat: A New Seder for a New year

“There are four New Years days: the first of Nisan is the New Year for reckoning the reigns of kings and the feasts; the first of Elul is the New Year for the tithe of the cattle; the first of Tishrei is the New Year for reckoning of the years and taking stock of human lives; the first of Shevat is the New Year for the fruit trees. That is according to the school of Shammai; the school of Hillil says on the 15th of Shevat.” - Mishnah Rosh Hashanah

A Tu B’Shvat Haggadah for Shabbat

Reader: Tu b’Shvat, the New Year for the trees, was designated, following debate in the Talmud, as the time of renewal of budding in the trees. The early winter rains were mostly over, the sap in the trees had risen, and the period of budding was just beginning. The origin of Tu b’Shvat in the Torah was a time for renewal of our commitment to God and to share the yield of the land with the poor. “Every year, you shall set aside a tenth part of the yield, so that you may learn to revere your God forever.” (Deut. 14:22-23) Today we celebrate Tu B’Shvat also for renewal of our commitment to serve and protect the trees, and all of God’s creation.

Jewish Environmental Sermonic Material, Part one

The material in this section, developed by Rabbi Daniel Swartz, is intended to offer sermon suggestions for rabbis. While the sacred texts of our tradition cannot address today’s environmental crisis in its totality (for our sages and ancestors could not even have imagined some of the technologies with which we now transform our world), our texts do delineate a just and moral relationship with the environment. If we can move ourselves and our congregants to develop such relationships, we will have taken a significant step toward responding to the environmental crisis. Listed below are 12 suggested sermonic approaches to Jewish environmental themes.  Please feel free to use any of this material without attribution. For more resources on Tu B’Shvat, visit http://www.neohasid.org/tu_bishvat/more_tu_bishvat/

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