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Aren't we lucky to have so many holidays? On Thursday we will be celebrating an Israeli favorite - Tu B'Shvat - Yom Huledet La'Ilan (Birthday of the Tree). In our case it is also You Huledet Le'Ilan (Ilan's Birthday), our very own Ilan Vitemberg, born on Tu B'Shvat a few years ago, in Kibbutz Megiddo. Yom Huledet Same'ach!!

In this issue, we bring you ideas and resources for Tu B'Shvat, and alert you to great opportunities for Professional Development and local events. 


Jewish LearningWorks' Israel Education Initiative is proud to provide you with creative resource materials and innovative ideas to enhance Israel Education in your programs all year round.  


Please forward this mail to your colleagues and staff.  

We wish you a Happy Tu B'Shvat!

Tu B'Shvat
The Almond Tree is Blooming
Ha'Shkedia porachat
New Year of the Trees
Rosh Ha'Shana La'Ilanot

"Oh tree, how shall I bless you?
That you shall produce sweet fruit?
You already do.
That you shall provide good shade?
You already do.
That there should be a cool stream by your side?
There already is.
Rather, may it be so that all cuttings planted from y
ou shall become just like you."                                 
                                     -Birkat Ha'Ilanot, Ta'anit 5b

Falling on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, Tu B'Shvat is the New Year of Trees. "Tu" stands for the Hebrew letters Tet and Vav, which together have the numerical value of 9 and 6, adding up to 15. The assigned numeric values of Yod for 10 and Hey for 5 spell out the name of G-d and are therefore substituted. Today, this holiday is often celebrated by planting saplings and by participating in a Tu B'Shvat Seder, in which the produce of trees, including fruits and nuts, are eaten. During the holiday we express our appreciation for nature and consider our obligation to care for the environment.   


Planting Sapling

The custom developed relatively recently - in the late 19th century, coinciding with the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. The initiative to plant trees began in schools and spread throughout the country to become a deeply rooted custom.

A recent design of the Blue Box
made out of carton 


The organization most associated with this endeavor

is the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet  Le'Israel). Established in 1901, during the Fifth Zionist Congress, JNF was charged with the task of fundraising in Jewish communities for the purpose of purchasing land in Eretz Yisrael to create a homeland for the Jewish people. In the next phase of its work the JNF directed its efforts to developing the land and to planting trees, and in the most recent phase - to preserving the environment and to finding ways of alleviating Israel's chronic water shortage.If you plan on planting sapling on Tu B'Shvat. JNF remains your go-to-guy.


The organization was a trailblazer in PR and marketing for its brand. Thus, they gave us the iconic Blue Box, a staple in most Jewish homes and classrooms, and a visual history through stamps and graphic posters. The brand's colors brown (for land), green (for trees) and blue (for water) were developed over time to symbolize the organization three foci areas.   


Picnic Area in JNF forest (year unknown)
Artist: B. Nachsholi
Picnic Areain JNF forest 2011
Artist: Matan Liberman 




























JNF posters online exhibit  (in Hebrew, but self explanatory)

JNF historic posters and their 2011 redesign (in Hebrew. Click on the 5 hanging posters)

JNF Blue Box and The Blue Box Gallery (An online slideshow)  
The organization was not exempted from inescapable controversy, scandal and satiric stabs (most notably in the 1964 film Sallah Shabati). A recent exhibition "Deep-Rooted" 111 Years of the Jewish National Fund, presented a new and provocative interpretation to JNF posters. Cosponsored by JNF and Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem and curated by Yossi Lemel, the posters were designed by 13 second-year students in the Visual Communications Department of the Holon Institute of Technology. "They (the artists) were given freedom to express various related messages - from expressions of admiration for the past and present achievements of the JNF,... and its presentation through a critical post-Zionist and controversial prism with regards to the manner in which it is operated and its gradual distancing from the objectives as formulated in its foundation" (Yossi Lemel, from the exhibition catalog)
Tu B'Shvat Seder
In recent years the Kabbalistic Tu B'Shvat Seder has been revived and is now celebrated by many in Israel and abroad. Special Haggadot have been written. Here are a few samples:

Lookstein's Tu B'Shvat Seder for 3-5 year olds 

Babaganewz Tu B'Shvat Seder  

Habonim Dror Tu B'Shvat Seder 

Hashomer Hatzair Tu B'Shvat Seder  

Ken Na'aleh Tu B'Shvat Seder 


Tu B'Shavat Resources


Hot off the press!  

Poster Tales Lesson for Tu B'Shvat 

Based on our popular program of Poster Tales - Israel Independence Day Posters, a lesson created especially for Tu B'Shvat, with ten images depicting flora and the seven species in this art form. Explore and enjoy!





We are happy to share with you a program that was developed
by Rabbi Avi  Deutsch for Jewish LearningWorks.

Tu B'shvat Song by Leah Goldberg
Lyrics in Hebrew

Jewish LearningWorks DIY - Tu B'Shvat
Israel 21C - Environment links

Hazon Tu B'Shvat Resources  

Israeli Children's Book author, Mirik Snir (in Hebrew) 

My Jewish Learning - about Tu B'Shvat 

Jerusalem Post article on Tu B'Shvat tradition of planting trees 

List of Tu B'shvat Songs (in Hebrew)  





Local Tu B'Shvat Events 

Include Tu B'Shvat Seder

Urban Adama - Tu B'Shvat Seder 

Wilderness Torah - Tu B'Shvat in the Redwoods 

Tu B'Shvat Seder for adults (in Hebrew) 



Tu B'Shvat Books in the Library

Below are favorite books celebrating the relationship of Jews and trees.  

Contact the Library to borrow a copy


Professional Development 
Playful Art with Hanoch Piven

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Jewish LearningWorks

601 14th Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94118   


Free event for all Jewish educators
Space is limited, RSVP Required    


Hanoch Piven, an Israeli artist and educator, world renown for colorful and whimsical collage representations of celebrities and others, will visit San Francisco as part of an exhibition at the JCCSF. Jewish LearningWorks invites local Jewish educators to participate in a hands-on workshop with the artist. The workshop is meant as an exploration of identity through collage, how to use this technique in school environment and the potential of integrating the arts in Israel and Jewish education.   


In collaboration with the Israel Center 



The Alef Bet of Israel Education 

Facilitated by Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, Vavi Toran and Ilan Vitemberg

Part of A year of Courageous Teaching - A series of workshops designed to nurture and train congregational school educators  


February 9, 1:00-4:30pm  

Congregation Bnai Tikvah

Walnut Creek

More Info 


In collaboration with The Jewish Federation of the East Bay 



Local Events

Israel's Remarkable Reforestation  

and What it Can Teach the World    

with Alon Tal  


Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 7:30 pm

JCC East Bay, Berkeley Branch

Event Details  


Join Israeli environmentalist and author Alon Tal on the eve of Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees, as he traces the history of Israel's forests from biblical times and derives valuable lessons for others seeking to reestablish timberlands. The multi-media presentation will look at rabbinic teachings on Tu B'Shevat and feature material from his book All the Trees of the Forest: Israel's Extraordinary Woodlands, from the Bible to the Present, which will be available for sale.



Youth Studio TheaterGames presents

An Excellent College Application Experience

Play by A.Solomonik

Directed by M.V. Farber   


Saturday, February 8, 5:00

Sunday, February 9, 6:00 

 Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts

500 Castro Street, Mountain View 94039

Tickets at 650-903-5555 or


The play, commissioned by TheatreGames and based on a true story, is about high school students' trip to Israel. During the tour of the country, students spend a night with a group of Bedouins. When the students leave the next morning, items are discovered that were stolen from their hosts. Hoping to avoid any official scandal, the teachers give the students a day to confess and return anything they took. As the play goes on, students struggle with their own values and those of their classmates as greater questions of morals arise.


The actors are high school students, who have direct experience with Jewish day school and various Jewish programs in Bay Area. Their own thoughts and opinions have also been reflected in the play. The director, M.V. Farber, founded TheaterGames, a youth drama program, in 1993.    



At the CJM:
To Build & Be Built: Kibbutz Histor
Ongoing until July 2014
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
Work in Progress: Considering Utopia 
Consider the concept of utopia both in a Jewish context and from a contemporary perspective.
Contact Jewish LearningWorks' 
Israel Education Initiative Team:
Ilan Vitemberg, Director
Vavi Toran, Arts & Culture Specialist