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A Journey of Reflection: My Childhood Perspective of Tu Bishvat

As a child, I couldn't fully appreciate the significance of planting trees in Israel. I knew it was important to my Jewish community because it was a constant theme at Hebrew School...even beyond Tu Bishvat. On the day of my Bat Mitzvah, my rabbi presented me with a certificate stating that a tree would be planted in my name. Trees are also planted on behalf of loved ones who passed. Even our Tzedakah boxes encourage donations to plant trees in Israel.


Tu Bishvat, also known as the Jewish New Year of the Trees, is a significant holiday in the Jewish faith. It's a time to celebrate the environment and the beauty of nature. It also presents an opportunity for children to learn about the importance of taking care of the environment, developing an appreciation for nature's beauty, and giving back to the world.

But I couldn't help but wonder, why are we planting all these trees in Israel? Would there be enough room for people in such a small country?


Growing up in New Jersey, also known as the "Garden State," I took for granted clean water and lush green landscapes. In fact, my backyard was a forest preserved by the state as "historical land" because George Washington and his soldiers camped there.


This environment was a stark contrast to the summers I'd spend at my safta's apartment in Tel Aviv. Sure, trees were planted around the city, but there was no comparison to the lush forests I knew. In an attempt to "save water," my safta reminded us to turn off the faucet while brushing our teeth and to take short showers.


Now that I live in California, I hear myself repeating her words to my children. Here in Silicon Valley, there aren't any extravagant forests or green landscapes. It's one of the reasons my kids love visiting my parents in New Jersey, who still live in my childhood home. It's like the song goes, "You don't know what you've got til it's gone."


 

These no-prep resources are a great way for children to connect to Tu Bishvat.


The Booklet features the life cycle of a tree and the shivat haminim, or the "seven species" of sacred fruits and grains grown in the Land of Israel. They include wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and dates.




This set features the seven species of sacred fruits and grains that were cultivated in Ancient Israel. These activities can be completed independently or in pairs. You'll just need one packet per student and some colored pencils.






This delightful craft is an excellent way to introduce Pre-K to first graders to the holiday and the traditional foods at a Tu Bishvat Seder. Students can display their artwork on the bulletin board to fit the season. 


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