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The Jewish mystics of the 17th century, the Kabbalists, created a special ritual—modeled after the Passover seder—to celebrate God's presence in nature. Today in modern Israel, Tu BiShvat has become a national holiday, a tree planting festivaTu BiShvat is not mentioned in the Torah. Scholars believe the holiday was originally an agricultural festival, corresponding to the beginning of spring in Israel. But a critical historical event helped Tu BiShvat evolve from a simple celebration of spring to a commemoration of our connection to the land of Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the exile that followed, many of the exiled Jews felt a need to bind themselves symbolically to their former homeland. Tu BiShvat served in part to fill that spiritual need. Jews used this time each year to eat a variety of fruits and nuts that could be obtained from Israel. The practice, a sort of physical association with the land, continued for many centuries.l for both Israelis and Jews throughout the world
Although the celebration of Tu BiShvat has a long and varied history, the theme most commonly ascribed to the holiday today is the environment.
The period between Passover and Shavuot is called the “Counting of the Omer” (Sefirat Ha'omer).
Together with your children, watch these Shalom Sesame videos to learn about Shavuot and celebrating the Torah. Then try some of the discussion ideas and activities recommended by Reform Jewish educators to further extend the lessons learned in the videos.
One of the most distinctive customs of Shavuot is Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an evening-long study session held on the night of Shavuot. Uphold this tradition by watching and learning with the rabbis featured in these videos, and exploring the accompanying study guides.
Listen to Rabbi Yehudit Werchow discuss Parashat Matot, Numbers 30:2–32:42
Video for Shavuot (or anytime): study the Book of Ruth with Rabbi Edythe Mencher.
Rabbi Freelander speaks of the mitzvah of the Passover seder and explaining to our children that we observe Passover because of what God did for us.
As Rabbi Appell teaches, Parashat K’doshim reminds us that we are created in the divine image. In what ways do you find holiness in yourself and in those around you?
Our greatest sources of connection come from our encounters with others. How can we ensure that our encounters with family and friends have the potential to be revelatory moments?