Happy (Belated) Birthday, Trees!

Happy Birthday, Trees! Yes, Jews have a birthday for trees. I recently heard Tu B’Shevat described as a Jewish Earth Day and think that’s pretty cool for a Desert! No idea what Tu B’Shevat is? Let me explain the holiday a bit more in depth and then I’ll tell AND show you what we did on Sunday.

Now, I could get very in depth here and discuss the Gematria (a way of interpreting the scriptures by working out the numerical value of words and their corresponding letters) of the date of Tu B’Shevat, but that’s not my strong suit and The Dad isn’t here right now to be sure that I do it accurately. I will, however, say that The Dad does something pretty awesome with the Gematria for Coca Cola to show that Coke is Hashem’s drink of choice!! But I digress. Tu B’Shevat is a Jewish holiday that takes place on the 15th of Shevat. Jewish holidays begin at sunset the night before and end after nightfall the night after, much like Shabbos. In Israel, trees are planted in celebration of the holiday. However, the importance of trees in Israel isn’t limited to just one day, no. The JNF (Jewish National Fund) has a Tree Planting Centre, where you can go online and purchase a tree to recognize or memorialize a friend or loved one. Over the last 100 years, the JNF has planted over 250 million trees in Israel! The oldest trees in Israel are estimated to be over 500 years old!

On Sunday, The Dad and I loaded up the boys and took them to a PJ Libary/UJA/Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School Plug Into PJ “Tu B’Shevat Groove” event at Wychwood Barns on Sunday, January 24th. The PPJDS hosts several community events each year for various Jewish Holidays and partners with several downtown Jewish organizations. The wonderful partners for this event were Avenue Road Arts School, Camp Gesher, Israel Connection, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Plug Into PJ and Shoresh. “The many downtown Jewish groups tend to be very collaborative with each other,” says Sheri Rapp, Marketing and Admissions of the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School. “There is a general culture of openness and inclusiveness. Our school, for example, refers to itself as Egalitarian and Pluralistic, and we have been called a community of differences. We embrace families from a wide range of cultures and family structures, and very much take pride in the breadth and depth of our community. I think that many of our partners share these values. For holiday events, like Tu BeShevat, we strive to do something positive, meaningful and fun for the general community. The events are free and open to all children and their caregivers.”

Our family is a big fan of PJ Library. We’ve been receiving books and CDs since Peanut was 6 months old. Our bookshelf is full of beautifully written and illustrated books about Jewish holidays, values, etc. I love when a PJ Library package comes through the mail slot. Our books are what one could call ‘well-loved’. “PJ Library Toronto sends free Jewish-themed children’s books or CDs to families in Toronto, York Region & Peel Region. Ages served are 6 months through 7.5 years old,” writes Shira Lev, Education Outreach Coordinator of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “We know that something magical happens when parents sit down together to read with their children. PJ Library shares Jewish stories that can help your family talk together about values, traditions, and culture that are important to you.” PJ Library is a program made possible by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and generous community donors. To sign up your family, register today at PJ Library.

And now, our day in pictures!

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