The Christians may be gearing up for St. Valentine (and everyone else for candy hearts and store-bought cards) but Jews get to settle down for our own holiday! Starting last sunset and going til the next one, we’re in the midst of Tu B’Shevat.
Tu B’Shevat has its origins in biblical Israel; it signaled the tax season through looking at the aging of trees. It is not mentioned in the Torah and is certainly not one of the bigger holidays within the religion.
But in this day and age of growing concern for environmental issues, some Jews have revamped Tu B’shevat to speak to “going green.” So on Monday night, I attended my first Tu B’Shevat seder, sponsored in part by Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington, local ecological advocacy group.
The two-hour seder featured music, fruit (much of it from modern-day Israel), wine, and information. We heard from a Jewish organic farmer living in Prince George’s County. We watched a clip from a Faith in Place documentary about a Chicago Muslim community reaching out to sustainable farmers.
I also picked up Shomrei Adamah’s “Green and Just” guidebook with sustainable living tips for DC-area Jewish families, a ditto of pro-nature blessings and religious quotes from Orthodox group Canfei Nesharim, and parsley seeds for planting that, if properly cared for, will be grown in time for our next seder.
Other co-sponsors of the Tu B’Shevat seder were Israeli Harvest, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, Teva Learning Center, Moishe House in Silver Spring, Birthright Israel NEXT, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Jews United for Justice, and AVODAH: Jewish Service Corps.
Crossposted to The Examiner