Tu B’Shvat 2016
Be Part of the Celebration
For thousands of years Jews have marked Tu B’Shvat as the New Year of the Tree. Ancient Jewish sages saw that in Israel, this was when trees started to come out of their winter dormancy. This holiday marks the awakening of life in the trees, when buds begin to develop, and new leaves grow.
The Kabbalists of ancient Tzfat built a special ceremony or seder, similar in nature to the Passover seder, celebrating Tu B’Shvat some 500 years ago.
This year, Tu B’Shvat starts on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 24, and goes until the evening of Monday, Jan. 25.
Why celebrate Tu B’Shvat?
Tu B’Shvat is a perfect holiday to celebrate globally for many reasons:
- While it is a Jewish holiday, Tu B’Shvat is a celebration of universal values that can be appreciated across any culture or religion.
- Tu B’Shvat draws from the Jewish perspective on nature, using the world around us as our greatest teacher. It’s a holiday of respecting and appreciating the Earth, and the fruits it supplies for us.
- Jewish tradition holds respect for every living thing, including trees. For example, there are rules regarding how often farmers can harvest from trees, giving plants a rest on every seventh year (in Hebrew, the Shmittah year), and prohibiting fruit from being harvested for the first three years of a tree’s life. This approach to respect for living things also includes sensitivity to the needs of others: other humans, other living things, and even other objects. The trees in Israel may still seem to be sleeping this January, but our sages’ sensitivity to the world around them led them to realize that the first sparks of life were beginning to awaken in the trees.
In general, there are innumerable lessons we can learn from celebrating Tu B’Shvat: on respect, sensitivity, spirituality, and on connection to the world around us.
Teaching conscientiousness, appreciation, connection, acceptance of cross-cultural ideas, and tied deeply with Jewish values, this holiday can have a global impact.
In an age of the world where there are serious cultural tensions and violence, as well as ever-increasing environmental crisis, the celebration of Tu B’Shvat can help spread beautiful principles, strengthen communities, and help bring a special light to this world.
The Tu B’Shvat seder originated in Tzfat 500 years ago, at the footsteps of where Livnot U’Lehibanot is located today.
We want you to get involved with a Tu B’Shvat seder. Either host your own, or join one happening in your local community. It can be casually over lunch, a picnic in the park, a big dinner with friends and family, or a lunch and learn with your coworkers. Livnot is happy to help you plan your seder, or find one happening in your area.
One of the greatest learning tools for us at Livnot is nature, and the world around us. Drawing from the Kabbalistic approach to this ancient holiday, we’ve designed our Tu B’Shvat Companion to help spread the wisdom and ancient teachings of Tu B’Shvat.
Our companion includes chevrutas you can do at your seder table, sources of spiritual insight, questions for discussion, and even songs you can sing. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to celebrate Tu B’Shvat, while learning and sharing the wisdom it holds. You can find a PDF version of our companion at the bottom of the page and you can contact us using the form at the bottom of this page to have physical copies of our beautiful companion mailed to your home or organization for free.
In addition to our Companion, our educators and staff and readily available to answer your questions, help you organize a seder, help you locate one near you, and supply you with the tools you need to participate in this global event.
This year, Livnot is partnering with Hazon, an organization that has been working to create healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond. Their Tu B’Shvat Seder and Sourcebook is available for download here, and makes a wonderful resource to supplement your Tu B’Shvat seder.
To sign up to receive copies of our Tu B’Shvat Companion mailed to you for free, click here and fill out the form.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org