Celebrate Tu B’Shevat at the Boulder JCC

The festival of Tu B’Shevat begins on Sunday night, February 9. Tu B’Shevat means the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It is the New Year of the Trees, often referred to as the Jewish Arbor Day.

Why do the trees need a birthday? There are a lot of Jewish laws about agriculture and farming to help us take care of the fields, crops, and trees. These laws mainly apply to food grown in Israel, but they offer a lot of good advice and reminders for farmers everywhere. 

One Jewish agricultural law that applies to any Jewish farmer anywhere in the world is called Orlah. This law refers to refraining from eating the fruit from a fruit tree until its 4th year. At Milk and Honey Farm, we have been adhering to this law – counting each year that our various fruit trees are in the ground so we know when the fruit is fit to eat. Luckily, Jewish law also gives us an easy way to count these years, as every Tu B’Shevat, no matter when a tree is planted, the tree turns another year older. Last year was the first year that we were able to taste the plums and apples of the first fruit trees we planted before the JCC even opened, in Spring 2016. This year we will get to eat even more fruit, as our orchard has been expanding every year. 

Another way we will be celebrating this year is through our Zero Waste Tu B’Shevat Seder, on February 9th. 

In the 16th century, the Kabbalists (mystics) of Tzfat (the city of Safed) in Israel created a new ritual to celebrate the holiday. Modeled on the Passover seder, participants would read Jewish texts about the land and trees and would eat fruits and nuts traditionally associated with the land of Israel. The Tu B’Shevat Seder continued to evolve over the centuries and with the rise of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s, Tu B’Shevat became a time when we could connect environmentalism and conservation with Jewish practice.

This year, the most important environmental challenge of our day is the climate crisis. What we consume and what we waste has a profound impact on the climate. That’s why the Boulder JCC is hosting a Zero Waste Tu B’Shevat Seder for adults on Sunday, February 9 in partnership with Congregation Bonai Shalom, Congregation Har HaShem, Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Hazon, Moishe House, Tuv Ha’aretz, and Morah Yehudis Fishman: Community Educator.

The Tu B’Shevat seder will explore the intersection of Zero Waste, Climate Change, and Jewish thought. Neal Lurie, President of Resource Central, a conservation-focused nonprofit, and Kara Mertz, Sustainability Manager for the City of Boulder, will help frame our discussions. We’ll also have an opportunity to learn more about Resource Central’s programs, Boulder County initiatives, and how we can all be involved in helping affect global change locally. A Tu B’Shevat seder, literally “order,” is a festive experience where we share and celebrate seasonal fruits. Our seder will include vegan soup, tree fruits, and wine. 

Advance registration is required via JConnect or call 303-998-1900 to register over the phone. 

Zero Waste Tu B’Shevat Seder
Sunday, February 9
6 – 8:30 pm
$18 through Wednesday, February 5, then $25

About Nancy Lipsey

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