Celebrating Tu B'Shevat, Jewish "Earth Day," with your Children

Many Jewish holidays connect with the cycles of nature. Tu B'Shevat, which falls at sunset on February 8th this year, is dedicated to celebrating the fruits of the land. Literally the fifteenth (tu) day of the Jewish month of Shevat, Tu B'Shevat was originally the date selected for tithing- or setting aside a portion of one's crops for priests in the holy temple. It is a time in Israel when the rains have fallen and the blossoms begin to appear on the almond trees and we pray for a healthy harvest. In contemporary life, Tu B'Shevat can be thought of as a Jewish "Earth Day." Here is a Tu'B Shevat activity to do with your children. Rabbi Meir, a second century sage, suggested that it would be possible to say 100 blessings a day. In doing so, we would enhance our connection to and appreciation for the wonders of creation. In Jewish tradition there are hundreds of blessings. There is a blessing for each of the following and more:

  • Seeing a rainbow
  • Seeing a flowering tree
  • Smelling a spice
  • Experiencing rain
  • Tasting something for the first time each year
  • Seeing a sunset
  • Seeing the ocean
  • Hearing thunder

The blessing formula for all of these begins the same way:

Baruch Attah Adonai, Eloheynu Meleach Ha Olam...

To engage your children in appreciating the world around them this coming Tu B'Shevat, take them on a Blessing Walk. Have them bless everything they see that grabs their attention. They can use the blessing formula or not. Explain that blessings are a Jewish way of stopping to notice the world around us and give thanks for its bounty. Enjoy nature's bounty around you with your family and have a wonderful Tu B'Shevat.

~By Deborah Newbrun, Associate Director of the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center


January 20, 2009


The Federation