Getting Ready for Tu BiShvat

January 10, 2011

We just said goodbye to 2010, but it's already time to start planning for another New Year's celebration: Tu BiShvat the Jewish New Year for the trees, is just ten days away.

Luckily, planning for this holiday doesn't require visiting your local party supply store! We've got all the resources you need for a meaningful and sustainable Tu BiShvat celebration on our holiday resource page, including Tu BiShvat seders (environmentally-themed adaptations of the ancient Passover tradition) for all ages, sample prayers and text studies, and hands-on program ideas to protect your local forests and ecosystems. This year, we've added new articles from rabbinic leaders and step-by-step greening guides with ideas for how to take action at your home and congregation. What better way to celebrate the environment than by taking steps toward better stewardship in our own lives? Visit the Tu BiShvat holiday resource page to start planning today.

The Tu Bishvat celebration began centuries ago as a minor festival to mark an important point on the agricultural calendar, but, in the contemporary era of environmental awareness, the holiday has grown into "Jewish Earth Day." Yet our tradition's wisdom isn't new or just a "green trend." We've always been connected with the land and appreciative of our resources, and been commanded to be good caretakers of both.

And don't forget that the values that undergird Tu BiShvat aren't just good for one day: On Tu BiShvat we double down on our commitment and increase our efforts to build a more environmentally sustainable Jewish community for the years to come, and we're proud that Reform congregations are doing just that. Our synagogues are making their buildings more energy efficient, planting gardens, cleaning up local beaches, hosting educational and interfaith events and much more. Our new web feature on our GreenFaith Pilot Program highlights the work of eight incredible congregations well on their way to completing the rigorous GreenFaith Certification program, and we hope you'll check out their stories for inspiration and examples as you plan your own activities.

With its rise to prominence as the "Jewish Earth Day" Tu BiShvat has taken on many meanings to many people: a celebration of natural wonders, a chance to recommit ourselves to environmental stewardship, and a day to reflect on our role in the complex ecosystem that is planet Earth. Whatever Tu BiShvat means to you, we have the resources to help you plan a meaningful celebration - and we look forward to hearing about what you decide to do!

Take action on the lessons learned during Tu BiShvat with our upcoming webinar, Community Supported Agriculture 102. If you're looking to start an innovative food justice program or already part of a CSA and wondering what's next, this is the perfect learning session for you. We'll explore the outstanding "CSA and Beyond" program at Congregation Kol Ami, Elkins Park, PA and hear from experts at Hazon and Feeding America. Register today, and learn more about what Reform congregations are on our Food Program Bank.

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