What lore does Bilbo Baggins have to share with us about Tu b’Shvat?
What do Grammy-winning band Ozomatli, tree planting and a bungee trampoline have in common? This year, they’ll all be part of a festival celebrating Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday of nature and abundance.
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.