Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Today is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, also known as Tu B'Shvat. No, it's not another fast day. It's a real holiday, but one without any restrictions. The holiday is known as Jewish Arbor Day and the New Year for trees. It's a day to feel good about the bounty of nature, including trees, fruits and nuts.
On Tu B'Shvat we make an exception to our policy of posting an original item each day and we're repeating this post every year. We think this post says it all and we want all of our new subscribers to see it. In the last year the number of subscribers has almost tripled, from 800 to close to 2,200 today, so we're reaching a new audience.
It is customary to eat fruits on this day, especially fruits from Israel. This includes figs, dates, oranges, pomegranates, and persimmons or Sharon fruit (afarsimonim). All are available at most supermarkets or gourmet groceries.
Trees have been very important to Israel from its earliest beginnings. From the tree of knowledge of good and evil described in Genesis to the eucalyptus trees planted in the Huleh Valley to drain the swamps and make much of the land inhabitable early in the 20th century, trees have always been part of Jewish life.
Yaakov Kirschen, the political cartoonist whose daily Dry Bones comic strips have appeared in The Jerusalem Post since January 1973, is using his talents to highlight the value of trees to everyone, and especially to the Jewish people, throughout the millennia.
In addition to his cartoons, which are also published in his daily blog, Kirschen has written a book in comic book format, Trees...The Green Testament, that illustrates the history of the world as narrated by a tree. The tree, from its days as a seed and a sapling, observes and comments on world events from its own perspective.
The book is out of print, but new and used copies are available through online booksellers including Amazon.com. It's really worth finding and reading.
Tu B'Shvat is a time for singing, feasting, and rejoicing. So here's a video tribute to this least known but very happy holiday. Enjoy!
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)