Did You Know?
1. Tu B’Shevat is celebrated on the 15th of Shevat on the Hebrew calendar. “Tu” is Hebrew for 15.
2. Tu B’Shevat is the birthday for trees and was originally meant to help farmers determine when the trees were mature enough for their fruits to be harvested.
3. The Rabbis picked the 15th of Shevat because they believed that the climate in Israel was them suitable for planting and harvesting trees.
4. Fruit trees are considered important in the Torah because of their symbolism for life, growth and nourishment. (Have you read The Apple Tree's Discovery by Peninnah Schram?)
5. Parsley is often planted in areas of the world where it is too cold to plant trees during Tu B’Shevat. The parsley will often be used a couple months later on the Passover seder plate.
6. Traditionally, a cedar tree would be planted for a baby boy and a cypress tree for a baby girl.
7. There’s a ban against cutting down fruit trees during a battle siege in the Torah.
8. When a fruit tree turned four, its fruits were given to the Temple Priests as a tax.
9. The importance of Tu B’Shevat fell with the destruction of the second Temple (and there were no more Priests to receive the tax), but rose again with the Kabbalists during the 15th century.
10. The Kabbalists created the Tu B’Shevat seder during the medieval period and modeled it after the Passover seder.
11. Early Zionists planted trees in Israel to help restore Israel’s land and as a symbol of the growth of the Jewish people.
12. It’s customary to drink four glasses of wine on Tu B’Shevat.
13. The most common fruits to eat during Tu B’Shevat are olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates.
14. Many Jews around the world observe Tu B’Shevat by donating money to the Jewish National Fund that purchases trees to reforest Israel.
15. Today, Tu B’Shevat is associated with Jewish environmentalism and upholding a connection to Israel.
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