Submit your environmental activist before Tu B'Shevat!
Saturday is Tu B'Shevat, known as the "Jewish New Year for trees," the "Jewish Arbor Day," or the "Jewish birthday for trees." The holiday has an interesting history that, believe it or not, began with taxes. Lenore Skenazy explains in The Forward:
Back about 2,000 years ago, Tu B’Shevat — literally the 15th day of the month of Shvat — was a tax deadline, of sorts. Any trees planted before Tu B’Shvat were considered to have been “born” the previous year. Those planted after Tu B’Shvat (or, perhaps those that started blooming after Tu B’Shvat) were part of the next year’s crop. As the amount of fruit you were required to tithe from each tree was determined by its age, this date was significant. And since the easiest way to remember a tree’s birthday was to plant it on that day, that’s what some folks did: planted.
Later, the mystical Kabbalists developed a Tu B'Shevat seder, based on the Passover seder, to commemorate the holiday. As time went on, the significance of the holiday continued to evolve. Renee Ghert-Zand, of Truth, Praise & Help, writes:
Zionist pioneers co-opted the holiday as a symbolic celebration of the Jewish connection to and rebuilding of the Land of Israel. The Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, or Jewish National Fund, jumped on this opportunity to get every Israeli student out planting trees bought with funds collected and donated by every Diaspora child.
Today, the significance of Tu B'Shevat extends beyond trees to encompass a broader view of envioronmentalism, including conservation, recycling, reducing emissions, sustainable agriculture, eco-friendly buildings, and the larger "green" movement; a movement in which Jewish women have played an important part.
In celebration of Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish Women's Archive is adding to our list of Jewish women who have played an active role in the movement to increase environmental consciousness and protect our planet. Help us recognize more Jewish women by submitting the name of someone whose work you admire, and see her profile on JWA.org when we update our feature on Jewish Women in Environmental Activism this spring.
Click here to submit an environmental activist! Please include her name and a brief description of what she has done for the environment. Her photo and contact information would also be helpful, if you have it.