By: Deborah Fishman
Today’s holiday of Tu B’Shvat is the New Year of the Trees. It is also a terrific opportunity to teach children about caring for Israel and for the earth – all while enjoying some delicious dried fruit and nut snacks.
Here is a roundup of some interesting resources available online to teach about and celebrate the holiday. Some activities are appropriate for school and others for home celebrations for the entire family:
Activities & Seder Guides
- The Lookstein Center offers a list of lesson plans and activities, including about social action and responsibility, the Shivat Haminim (Seven Species of Israel), and celebrity tree-planting.
- Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s Tu B’Shvat Across America program provides ways to celebrate Tu B’Shvat as an embodiment of our dedication to the environment of Israel. Resources include a seder guide for middle school, a high school eco-Zionist curriculum, and a family-friendly tree horoscope activity. JNF also offers its signature Tu B’Shvat opportunity: planting trees in Israel.
- The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has collected resources including this seder guide from Areivim, an activity where you can design the Jewish community as a forest, and source texts on “Man’s Relationship to Man as Parallel to his Relationship to Trees.”
- The Israel Forever Foundation has introduced a “Plant Israel at Home” campaign, with a guide to holding a seder that will allow you to “celebrate your connection to Israel from your corner of the world.”
- Hazon offers a seder guide to explore one’s connection to the natural world in terms of “physical place, community, world, and spirituality.” There is also a seder guide especially for families with school-aged children.
Interactive & Multi-Media
- Jewish Interactive offers the app iThankYou, which teaches gratitude through the prayer Modeh Ani, Tu B’Shvat, and Shivat Haminim (Seven Species of Israel).
- Shalom Sesame features resources including this video clip in which Sesame muppets plant trees and this clip on children showing respect for nature in Israel – as well as this educators’ guide to Tu B’Shvat.
- G-dCast produced an animated version of the Talmudic story of Honi the Circle Maker.
- Israeli (and other tree-related) songs are available on YouTube, such as this version of the classic “Hashkediya Porachat” (“The Almond Tree is Blooming”).
How are you celebrating Tu B’Shvat in your school and community?