Two Jewish groups launched a joint initiative promoting environmentally friendly living on Tu B'Shevat, Jewish arbor day.
Across the globe this month Jewish communities are celebrating the holiday of Tu B’Shevat. Many choose to commemorate the “New Year of The Trees” by planting pine trees in Israel. Tu B’Shevat is a day that deals directly with the social inequality of our food system. It’s a holiday that can inspire us to think about building community food security. Why not plant fruit trees right here in Los Angeles to grow more food?
In the summer of 1984, when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics, then-Mayor Tom Bradley and the local organizers of the Olympic Games unveiled a large bronze plaque honoring the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich. The Israeli Olympic delegation was present for the unveiling, as were Jewish community leaders, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz and his wife, Karen, are stumped. They’re trying to explain just how many varieties of lettuce they’ve been able to grow since an urban farming company called Farmscape installed an organic garden in their yard last year. It’s a Wednesday, and rather than roving the aisles at Ralphs or Trader Joe’s, they’re standing in their driveway, pulling a veritable cornucopia of vegetables from a narrow strip of land that once was grass.
From leafy eucalyptus trees lapping the shores of the Sea of Galilee to date palms in the desert to pine and oak trees in the North -- many of which were destroyed in the Carmel’s forest fire last month -- Israel will celebrate trees on Tu b’Shvat. The holiday, which for centuries was a rather obscure festival mentioned in the Mishnah as the new year for trees, was revived by the early Zionists as part of their back-to-the-land ethos. It's now a highlight of the Israeli national calendar, with tens of thousands of Israelis, most of them schoolchildren, pouring out across the country to plant saplings in celebration of the Jewish Arbor Day. But this year, in wake of the Carmel Forest fire that killed 44 and consumed some 5 million trees and 12,000 acres of land, a growing understanding has taken root that mass replanting of trees is not the way to go. At least not right now.
Judaism has a lot to say about how to create a balance between using the resources we have and abusing or destroying them.
Savvy couples are realizing -- in increasing numbers -- that when they send out invites, they are also sending out a message about their own sustainability practices. Some are turning away from paper and ink altogether and looking to cyberspace for their wedding communication needs, from the invites to thank-you notes, as well as albums and scrapbooks.
About 15 years ago some stick-like things began appearing on the hard, ugly stretch of Venice Boulevard from where it crosses Lincoln and continues to the beach.
The sticks were trees, but pitifully thin, with trunks a woman could wrap her fingers around and no more than a handful of leaves. Cynical locals like myself were certain the trees would end up stolen, vandalized or turned into a homeless person's campfire.
These are the times for which Tu B'Shevat was created. The rabbis who envisioned this holiday were prophetic: They knew we would need to be reminded on a regular basis about howimportant trees are to our lives. And trees have never been more important to our survival than they are today.
Ariel Jacobs had been jaundiced at birth, because of a blood-type incompatibility with her mother, and required a transfusion. As a result of contaminated blood, she contracted HIV, which later developed into AIDS.
Fine-print dealers from across the country convene at LACMA this weekend for Los Angeles Print Fair 2005.
Well, no. Tu b'Shevat is an annual celebration for a reason.
Thousands of years ago, our rabbis knew that we would need to be reminded on a regular basis about how important trees are to our lives. We must always remember to protect, plant and care for more of them.
Tu b'Shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat, marks the birthday of the trees.
"This project marks the convergence of two traditions, without detracting from the integrity of either one," said Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Sholom, the "Progressive Reform" congregation long active in interfaith relations. "In both traditions, trees symbolize new life and hope."
At the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, there are a host of trails -- including a three-quarters of a mile loop through picturesque Long Valley, just behind the Mountain Station that introduces visitors to regional plants and animals.
All over Los Angeles, Jewish groups were finding innovative ways to commemorate Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, which is the New Year for trees.
When my daughter was born, I walked the floors of our Atlanta home night after night, day after day, holding her while she slept or when she cried, stopping always in front of the wall of backyard windows framing a forest of trees. As I grew into my unexpected role of single motherhood, I watched the bare trees bend, and sometimes break under the weight of silver winter icicles. Then, as if reborn, I saw the same trees stretch tall and proud with tight spring blossoms of white, pink and lavender, before expanding, under the summer rains, into a lush landscape of green. Finally, these magnificent trees transformed, as if to colored music, into passionate reds, singing oranges and dancing yellows of fall, just as we packed our boxes and moved away.
In Old English, the month of November was called "blood month." It was a month of animal sacrifices that took place to prepare for the long winter.
Last week, we learned not to cut down the fruit trees of our enemies in times of war because, as the Torah says, the trees are "not our enemy."
For The Kids
In an unprecedented event, 650 of the most successful members of Los Angeles' Russian Jewish community gathered under the banner of
Judaism and Israel.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. That's how the judges of The Jewish Journal's first Tu B'Shevat Art Contest feel about having to pick just three winners out of so many terrific entries.
For several years, the city of Los Angeles Street Tree Division has treated the Jewish community to a bounty of free palm fronds to use as schach, covering for the huts built in honor of the early autumn holiday of Sukkot.
But this year, the city is cutting back on tree trimmings in an effort to keep the trees healthy.