A Holiday For Trees

Trees Near the Windmill in Jerusalem
Trees Near the Windmill in Jerusalem

On the fifteen day of Shevat, there is a Jewish holiday called Tu B’Shevat. This year Tu B’Shevat falls on Monday, February 9th.

The celebration often involves eating special fruits, especially figs, dates, almonds and carob. As a little girl growing up in New England, I often thought it strange that we celebrated a day for trees in what felt like the middle of a snowy winter to me. But the day is about the agricultural cycle in Israel. It started because the rabbis needed a day to begin counting certain laws such as Orlah, the three years one must wait for planting a fruit tree before enjoying the harvest.

The photo at left, which you can click to enlarge, shows some trees in Jerusalem in front of the Montefiore Windmill. The blue sign says “Heinrich Heine” (Road). Heine was a German poet. I chose the photo for this post because of the variety of trees in the photo. Also, because the photo reminds me of the story I told about my eighty-year-old friend identifying trees in Jerusalem.

In celebration of the upcoming holiday, I decided to post a few of my favorite tree photos.

hawthorn_tree Tree against a cloudy pink sunset colorful_foliage big tree trees_by_tracks Dogwood tree   forsythia, harbinger of spring  snowy-pear_150px

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12 thoughts on “A Holiday For Trees

  • I heard the idea of dried fruits was because that was the only way those in the Diaspora can eat the fruits of Israel – but I don’t get why we here in Israel eat them? Tradition??

    And also I’m still not quite comfortable with the Tu B’Shvat seder – I love all the ideas, seeds inside, seeds outside, red wine, white wine – guess I prefer “old” traditions. This one feels too new.

  • Klara, my understanding is the Tu B’Shvat seder has its roots in Sephardic traditions, so it’s not just a new-fangled idea.

    I’m sitting here wondering if I should take the ‘e’ out of Shevat; looks better (to me) with an ‘e’, but it’s really pronounced Shvat. Such silly things over which I ruminate.

  • Nice pictures!

    Interestingly enough, here in Israel, no one eats carob on TU B’Shvat, but growing up in the States, we always got dried carob in school.

    Klara – Actually, the TU B’Shvat Seder is older than some people think. For instance, a 17th century work called “Sefer Chemdat HaYamim” refers to a TU B’Shvat Seder.

  • Mrs. S., when I visited Yad Vashem in 1980, I distinctly remember eating carob off the ground as a snack. Just because we were hungry, and there it was.

    My mother, z”l, loved carob and called it “St. John’s bread.” None of the kids liked it, then or now. I just eat it because it reminds me of my mom.

  • Thanks Mrs. S and Leora for the historical references about the seder – but guess what I meant was it hasn’t been in vogue that long – and no comparison really to Pesach, so guess that’s what sits uncomfortably a bit.

    Another part that I do love – is how so many connect it up to eco concerns – and in the States as a kid, remember sending money off to plant a tree in Israel – now I can really plant one.

    Leora, I love finding carobs on the ground.

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