by Richard Schwartz
~Tu B’Shvat, the 15th day in the Hebrew month of Shvat, the ‘New Year for Trees, January 30-31 in 2018, has been increasingly popular, with more and more Tu B’Shvat Seders held annually, especially in Israel. It is important that vegetarian and vegan Jews organize such Seders, encourage rabbis and other Jewish leaders to conduct them, and/or attend Seders that are scheduled by others. Here are several reasons why:
Tu B’Shvat is a completely vegetarian, actually vegan, holiday, featuring mainly fruits, along with other vegan foods. So, Tu B’Shvat Seders provide great opportunities to increase awareness of the strong case for vegetarianism and veganism, based on Jewish teachings. I have many articles on why Jews should be vegetarians, and preferably vegans, as well as the complete text of the third edition of my book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz .
Tu B’Shvat has been becoming a ‘Jewish Earth Day,’ with many teachings related to nature and Israel’s environment. Increasing awareness of Judaism’s powerful environmental teachings is especially important now, with increasing evidence that the world is nearing an irreversible tipping point when climate change will spin out of control, with devastating consequences.*
In addition to its connections to vegetarianism, veganism and environmental sustainability, Tu B’Shvat has connections to Israel, nature, brachot (blessings), tikkun (repair), mysticism, and other issues. Hence it can attract a wide variety of Jews, including many who are generally not actively involved in Jewish life.
As Tu B’Shvat becomes more popular, it increases chances of restoring another ancient Jewish New Year, the New Year for the Tithing of Animals for sacrifices, and transforming it to a day dedicated to increasing awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion to animals and how far current treatment of animals is from these teachings. at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz .
Tu B’Shvat can be a very fun experience with some very interesting customs. I always promote Tu B’Shvat Seders that I organise and conduct by telling potential attendees that they will have a good time because there will be many nuts at the Seder. 🙂
*My Jerusalem Post article, “Climate Change: An Existential Threat to Israel, the US, and the World,” can be read at: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Climate-change-An-existential-threat-to-Israel-the-US-and-the-world-489556 .