The 15th day of the month of Shevat, the eleventh month of the Jewish year, is the “New Year of trees”.
This is the name of the feast in the Mishnah (Rosh haShanah 1,1). In the 16th century, the Kabbalists gave it a symbolical meaning and wrote the “seder of Tu biShevat”. With the birth of the State of Israel, the feast took on a new importance through the zeal of the pioneers who wanted to bring the desert to blossom.
During the past years, faced with the ecological challenges to our planet, Tu biShevat has become an occasion for reflecting on respect for Creation and for taking on the ecological challenges in the face of the various catastrophes that threaten and already affect our planet.
In Ein Karem, we have the custom of marking this feast by planting a new tree. The head of our enterprise is Joseph, our faithful Muslim worker from Bethlehem. In community, we celebrate Tu biShevat at the beginning of a meal by drawing inspiration from the “seder” of the Kabbalists * and by giving thanks to the Lord for the free gift and the beauty of Creation.
This enables us to give new motivation to our “ecological” efforts. In fact, we recycle our organic waste with the compost in our garden, and the glass and plastic bottles as well as metal containers are either put into the village bins or given to our neighbors, who earn a little money by reselling everything that can be recycled.
We should also mention that when we have a new fruit harvest in our garden, we always celebrate the first-fruits during our community Eucharist.
“If you have a tree in your hands and are preparing to plant it,
and someone tells you:
‘The Messiah is here’,
First plant your tree and then to go welcome him.”
Sr Anne Cathrine Avril NDS