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Tu B’Shevat Promotes Sustainability
Jewish Exponent, Article by Selah Maya Zighelboim
Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Abrams Hebrew Academy students put on a shuk. | Photos provided

“More than anything else, my goal was, with this, to connect the kids to Israel, to take away the beauty of the produce of Israel, a certain pride and connection to Israel, what it has to offer,” Ottensoser said.

One Tu B’Shevat tradition is a seder. Rooted in kabbalistic teachings from the 16th century, this custom has seen a recent surge in popularity. During the seder, participants drink four cups of wine — starting with white and then adding an increasing amount of red wine to each glass — and eat four kinds of nuts and fruit.

Kol Tzedek partnered with the Jewish Farm School to put on a Tu B’Shevat seder, where they dedicated the cups of wine to “The Fourfold Song” by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook — the first cup to the self, the second to peoplehood, the third to humanity and the fourth to creation. They also dipped apples in maple syrup to honor the season of sap, which is the current season in Philadelphia.

“We have such a strong agricultural tradition and such a deep reverence for creation,” Kol Tzedek Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari said.

Fornani said this Tu B’Shevat seder has a different angle every year. While last year’s focused on racial justice and food access, this year’s focused on environmental justice.

“Trees provide natural safety,” Fornani said. “They are barriers against wind in the case of hurricanes. They create roots in the soil that prevent mudslides. A lot of these … natural disasters are a product of corporate greed and the misuse of our relationship to the earth.”

Participants at Repair the World’s Seeds, Snacks & Six Packs | Photo provided

Repair the World: Philadelphia held a seder during an event called Seeds, Snacks & Six Packs.

The organization partnered with Owen Taylor, the founder of TrueLove Seeds, to teach about seeds. A group of about 35 people, Jewish and not, sorted seeds while learning about where the seeds came