A little over three weeks ago, Jewish people all over the world celebrated the New Year of the Trees, or in Hebrew, Tu B’Shevat. Tu B’Shevat occurs on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, marking the renewal of a tree’s life as we approach the early spring months. This holiday promotes an appreciation for trees and our environment, and encourages people to care about the natural resources around them. I remember going to my synagogue with my family as a young child on Tu B’Shevat. Families brought picnic blankets to the synagogue, and we all sat in a large room and had an indoor picnic; unlike in Israel, January in Chicago is a bit cold to have a real, outdoor picnic. We ate the traditional Israeli fruits such as figs, carobs, olives and pomegranates, sang Hebrew songs about nature, and watched short plays about the environment performed by some of the older kids. Year after year, these Tu B’Shevat observances exposed me to the idea that the beautiful, natural world around us cannot be taken for granted. We must instill in our communities, our friends, and our children that the environment is a precious gift that we must not only appreciate, but also nourish.
At CHF’s upcoming spring festival, Stages, Sights, and Sounds, Scotland’s Puppet State Theatre will be performing an adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental fable called The Man Who Planted Trees. The company uses comedy, puppetry, and storytelling to recount the life of one man who planted an entire forest by himself, transforming a wasteland into a beautiful, friendly place to live. Their performance not only emphasizes that nourishing the environment makes the world a better place, but it also demonstrates that one person can make a difference. The story, appealing to a younger crowd, but no less enjoyable or pertinent to people of all ages, inspires us to take responsibility for ourselves and our environment. In addition to attending the performance, teachers will be able to further educate their students about trees, the environment, and individual responsibility with our study guide on environmentalism that accompanies The Man Who Planted Trees!
It is up to each and every one of us to determine how we want to live. The Jewish customs of Tu B’Shevat taught me to love and care for the world around me—let the Puppet State Theatre’s performance of The Man Who Planted Trees instill these values in your children.
Tags: Stages, Sights, and Sounds, Study Guides