When most people think of Shevat, they think of Tu b’Shevat, the “new year” of the trees. Tu b’Shevat is one of the four new years in the Jewish religion. What began thousands of years ago as a tax day on fruit trees, has grown into the Jewish arbor day and/or a spiritual opportunity to explore new growth and our connection to the environment. Like so many of our holidays there are so many layers, so Tu b’Shevat can offer an amazing array of in-roads to exploring Jewish practice.
It’s no wonder that Jews love Tu b’Shevat, after all we call the Torah the “tree of life.” In ancient Israel we even planted trees when children were born to commemorate their birth and then these trees were used as the chuppah poles at their weddings. That’s just one of many amazing tree-based traditions in Judaism! If you want to plant a tree for Tu b’Shevat, there are lots of organizations that you can donate to that will help you with that, since it’s a lousy time of year to actually plant trees in most parts of the world. If this is what you are looking for, then check out Casey Trees and Jewish National Fund. I’m sure there are tons of other great organizations, and I hope you’ll share your favorite in the comments.