Coming a month and a half before the spring equinox and two months before Passover, Tu BiShvat provides a glimmer of springtime at a time when winter can often be at its cruelest.
Derived from central Europe, the popular kichlach (Yiddish for "cookies") are to be found in many of the packages prepared by parents for their children serving in the Israeli military.
Judaism is filled with ritualized counting. From the seven ordered days of creation, to the repetition of forty throughout the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), to God's exhortation to Abraham to "count the stars, if you can count them…" Currently, we are in the midst of counting the Omer, the days from Passover to Shavuot.
What makes this holiday a favorite among secular Israelis, while it is almost forgotten by Jewish kids in the Diaspora?
Jewish communities around the world marked the "new year for the trees" last week with tree planting ceremonies and seders that celebrate Israel's seven species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates if you are keeping track!).