Tu B’Shevat Seder and Environmental Commitment

Sunday 16 January, 1:00 pm – Join us on Zoom for a spirited Seder and an important discussion led by Rick Kool on “Personal steps to Environmental Sanity”.

This year, Rick Kool, a creative thinker and professor of Environmental Education at Royal Roads University, will lead us in a discussion of ideas and the doable life changes that we can all make to reduce our personal carbon footprint and gain greater environmental sustainability.  We will share a meaningful Seder where we will honour trees, fruit and Divine Source’s footprint in creation.

Tu B’Shevat is the Jewish New Year for trees. This Jewish Arbor Day likely began as an agricultural festival marking the emergence of spring.  The holiday is celebrated on the 15th (Tu) of the month of Shevat. 17th century Kabbalists in the land of Israel created a “Seder” that incorporates eating different fruits connecting to Mystical understanding of the four worlds (four modes of reality): doing, feeling, thinking and being in Spirit. The Seder also connects to the Kabbalistic idea of the Tree of Life, a cosmic map of the sefirot (lenses to understand Divine Source’s presence). Contemporary Jewish life has also incorporated elements of tree planting, ecosystem rehabilitation and learning about a Jewish environmental ethic. 

How to Participate

Here are the foods and items that you’ll need. Feel free to substitute what you have on hand for the suggested items. As the foods are symbols and signs to help us get closer to concepts and emotions, please feel free to use items that speak to you and are easy to procure.   Where possible, note that is customary to prefer fruits grown in the land of Israel and that are mentioned in the Bible (bolded in the list)

  • Wine/grape juice.  We will be using both red and white.  Feel free to substitute a light fruit juice if you can’t find white grape juice.
  • Fruit that has a hard outer shell and is soft and edible inside—walnut, almond, coconut, pomegranate.
  • Fruit that is soft on the outside that has a hard inner core (pit)—olives, dates, apricots, peaches
  • Fruit that is entirely edible—figs, grapes, raisins, berries, apples

What to Expect

We will learn more about these symbolic foods and how they relate to our lives and our relationship with Creation.

Our original plan was to join together with our Hebrew School and do a beach clean up and Seder.  Please join us for the Seder online and find ways to make Tu B’Shevat meaningful as we all take needed steps that reflect our commitment to environmental sanity.

Looking forward to learning, exploring, and feasting together!


Summary of event details

Published by

Congregemanuel

An inclusive, warm, and progressive Conservative synagogue in Victoria, B.C.

One thought on “Tu B’Shevat Seder and Environmental Commitment”

  1. “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down.” Rick interwove this Deuteronomy (20: 19) verse with other compelling strands, resulting in a rich tapestry calling for individual actions aimed at environmental sustainability. Among the different strands, Rick mentioned insatiable consumerism, the reasons human beings are compared to trees (not to cows or peas), and the significance of each of us planting a tree for the future (like the elderly woman Honi the Circle Maker ran into; she was planting a carob tree she’d not live to enjoy). Another reverberating strand Rick played with elegantly was Dayeynu (דיינו). More such offerings. No dayeynu here!

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