Tu B'Shvat Projects
Tu b’Shvat is a Jewish tradition that strives to encompass the historical, social and ecological importance of trees. As such, the festival is also called as the ‘New Year for Trees’ and is one of the four new years that are highlighted in the Mishnah. It is considered to fall on the 15th day of Shevat (which is a month according to the Hebrew Calendar). The term Tu b’Shvat literally means the 15th of Shevat as Tet has a numerical value of 9 and Vav has a value of 9. The festival is given large scale importance throughout the Jewish community as it is one of those festivals that are important in the present and future contexts apart from historical importance. Children all over the world are taught the religious and traditional importance of this festival in a variety of extremely unique and symbolic manners.
The festival is celebrated differently in different cultures. The way of the Kaballah entails eating of ten specific fruits and four wine cups. The Chassidic community they pickle the citron or etrog to eat on the day of the festival. One of the most unique methods of celebrations was started in 1890 by Rabbi Zeev Yavetz in Isreal. Leading a group of students, he planted trees in an agricultural colony. AS such, the movement caught extreme popularity by 1908 and was adopted by many institutions, guilds and groups. AS such, the movement has now become a country wide fort which sees participation of millions of people every year on the day of Tu b’Shvat.
This movement as can be envisaged has now reached a point where it plays a very crucial role in shaping and preserving the extremely delicate and tottering towards oblivions ecological balance. Through the widespread popularity of the festival and celebration by Jews all over the world, there are several projects and programs that are followed by schools, universities and such for planting trees throughout a specific area. The symbolism of the festival which followed the belief that trees are extremely important and are to be nurtured and respected, is followed by these projects in a very unique yet very direct manner. Generally, it is seen that around this time, all institutions and individuals can embark on a variety of Tu b'Shvat projects which can encompass a number of activities, games and so on which basically explain in the most clear way, the importance of tress in the world and also showcase the beauty and the massive use of these tress in maintaining life on the planet and protecting humans. As such, these projects are highly varied but all have the same specific core of teaching. Depending on the Age group that needs to be taught and the facilities and resources available, teachers and program creators can make a program package which can include various different games, discussions, competitions and idea for tree planting, knowledge about the benefit of trees, the various problems that trees are facing and so on. Since the festival is basically called as ‘The New Year for Trees’ it is believed that they undergo a change in the water that provides trees nutrition and regenerate their entire system.
Typically, any Tu b'Shvat project is carried out with a groups of students. As such, children are given major importance in this festival as they have to learn and understand the significance of trees. Parents and teachers often find various unique ways and means to craft out various attractive and extremely engaging projects which make for great learning as well as loads of fun. The work involved in planting these trees or saplings is not taken is a very sporting spirit by the children once they are explained the importance and the significance of the change that this festival strives to bring in. The projects themselves can be varied and can include a number of activities. Generally, these projects change according to the age group that is being catered to. As such, young children who may not yet have reached the physical prowess required to plant trees and saplings and so on can be taught in a variety of ways. These include puppet shows, home-made projects and demonstrations, plays and skits which may have kids playing various roles, audio-video presentations, storytelling and also various Tu b'Shvat centered games and quizzes which can make for very engaging entertainment for children. As such, they also include several projects and assignments which kids can do on their own thereby adding to the learning process. These may include embroidery and various drawings and designing projects, plays and skits, writing stories based on the festival and so on. These help substantially in spreading the importance and necessity of the festival among very young children. As is obvious, once ingrained in them at an early stage, children tend to make life long habits out of them.
For slightly older children who may have reached the age where they are able to plant trees and seeds and so on, there are several community based projects that are crafted out. As such, these may include large group of children from different communities and even different cultures and they may be led by school management, community programmers and so on. These projects can provide a large amount of values apart from the importance of trees. Messages of inter community harmony, local cleanliness, basic social interaction and so on are very predominant. Large groups of children are dispatched throughout a specific community with the goal of planting a trees, seeds or saplings along with the required tools. Team work, leadership and managements skills play a very important role as these groups may be divided into various smaller teams which are given a degree of local control. These projects not only involve planting new trees but also maintenance and care of these trees throughout the year in various ways. As such, this can ingrain in the child, the importance and care that these trees require and the patience that is required to tend to a project and manage it to get great results. The more recent trends in these projects also include a high level of teaching about the importance of recycling and the impacts of deforestation and improper disposal of wastes. As such, it can be said that the festival of Tu b'Shvat and all the projects that are involved, make a conscientious effort in order to promote the importance of preserving the ecological balance and managing of trees to secure a clean future.