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Judaism in Our Terms

Tu B'shvat
Jewish tradition regards Rosh Hashanah (the first of Tishrei) as the "new year," but it's not the only new year on the calendar. Tu B'shvat (the name refers to the date, the 15th of Sh'vat - Tu expresses the number 15 in Hebrew and Sh'vat is the month) is the new year for the trees. Once an important date to determine certain agricultural and ritual practices relating to trees and fruit, it has been reinterpreted in modern times as an environmental holiday. It is observed by eating a variety of fruits from the land of Israel and some have the custom of having a special seder with readings and appropriate foods. While Tu B'shvat usually falls at a time when the land freezing and dormant in New Jersey, in Israel the almond trees are beginning to blossom and it's the first sign of the new growing season to come. 

Lulav and Etrog
Taking up the four species (arba'ah minim) is a significant mitzvah of the Sukkot festival. The palm branch (lulav), citron (etrog), myrtle (hadas), and willow (aravah) are symbols that connect us to nature and the harvest festival. They also have been analogized to parts of the human body (spine, eyes, lips, and heart) and symbolize our our whole-body connection to God.

June 24,2024 /  18 Sivan 5784