Tu Bishvat 101

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In the middle ages, the Jewish mystics of Safed developed a ritual meal celebrated on Tu Bishvat that was modeled on the Passover seder. Four cups of wine were drunk and seven "fruits" symbolic of those of the Holy Land were eaten. With the rise of Zionism in the late 19th century, Tu Bishvat was rediscovered as a celebration that links the Jews with their land. The holiday became one of rededication to the ecology of the denuded land, with the planting of trees taking center stage in the celebration. Jews outside of Israel contribute money to plant trees there and/or plant trees in their own communities.

With the increased concern for the environment in recent years, Tu Bishvat has taken on an additional meaning as a day on which Jews can express and act on their concern for the ecological well-being of the world in which we live. This has led to the rediscovery of the mystical Tu Bishvat seder, now transformed into a celebration of God's bounty and the environment.

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