This week at Richmond Jewish Day School, we have had a week-long event celebrating the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat. Tu B’shevat has developed into an ecological holiday that reminds Jews of our connection to the earth and to our role as caretakers of the environment.
On Monday, each classroom performed a model Tu B’shevat Seder, a meal that partly mirrors the Passover seder and involves eating biblical foods native to the Holy Land and drinking four cups of wine, or in our student’s case, grape juice. Additionally, all students assisted in planting several fruit trees in our school garden, generously sponsored by the Jewish National Fund. On Tuesday, students planted succulents from the garden to give away to seniors in the Richmond community. In the remainder of the week, classes planted parsley and other herbs for Passover, and assisted in a large-scale, school-wide garden clean-up.
When students are able to see the effort and care needed to grow plants, they develop a sense of ownership for these living organisms. Developing this awareness of how precious nature is, can help our children become better connected to their environment, learning to be strong community ambassadors and advocates in protecting our planet.
Judaism is not alone in advocating for environmental protection. From Buddhism to Christianity to Hinduism to Islam, various faiths acknowledge the need for environmental stewardship and their scriptures urge followers to be caretakers of the planet, looking after the natural Earth and the organisms that live in it.