Three Ways to Celebrate Jewish Earth Day

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Jan. 21, in addition to celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this year we also happen to celebrate Tu B’Shevat.

Known as the “Festival of the Trees,” the holiday traditionally celebrates the blooming of Israel’s almond trees and the pending return of spring. Lately, however, a growing movement of Jewish environmental activists have infused the holiday with fresh meaning by turning it into a wider appreciation of nature and an opportunity to consider the ways in which Judaism informs our obligations around issues like climate change, sustainability, food production and consumerism.

We can all take small steps in our daily lives towards a greener world. Here are a few ways you can join with community to be a little greener this Tu B’Shevat:

1. Attend the Jewish Farm School seder.

A seder not on Passover? Yes, indeed: Tu B’Shevat seders are an old tradition now making a comeback among the ecologically-minded. Our Jewish Federation-supported Jewish Farm School is co-hosting one such seder with Kol Tzedek synagogue on Jan. 31. Registration is required at kol-tzedek.org/tu-bshevat-2018.html for this intimate discussion about climate change and climate justice.

2. Conduct your own seder with Hazon’s Free Haggadah.

Our Hungry for Change food conference partner Hazon — the “Jewish lab for sustainability” — has compiled a thoughtful, creative and free downloadable Haggadah for Tu B’Shevat. Updated for 2019, it encourages us to examine our relationships with food, Israel, trees and the wider world, including a social justice component in honor of MLK Day. To download a copy, visit hazon.org/tu-bshvat.

3. Learn at Kallah: Night of Jewish Learning.

On Jan. 19, the Kehillah of Bux-Mont and Kehillah of Chester County present “Three T’s: Torah, Tikkun Olam, Tu B’Shevat,” an evening of teachings by local scholars and rabbis. Delve into the mystical significance of trees in the Torah; the modern religious response to today’s environmental crisis; and, with our Jewish Federation’s own shlicha, stories about the seven species. More details can be found at jewishphilly.org/events.

However you choose to celebrate, chag sameach.

Be a Super (Sunday) Hero

What does it take to be a hero? Do you need superhuman strength, the ability to fly, an intergalactic backstory and inner turmoil?

Sure, that helps. But sometimes, being a hero means showing up when your community needs you. And we’re calling on you to be our superhero by joining us for Super Sunday on Feb. 24.

Super Sunday is the Jewish Federation’s largest day of community fundraising when, working together, we make phone calls to secure vital resources for our Jewish communities. Last year, with your help, we provided food assistance to 17,606 local low-income individuals; educated 1,779 Greater Philadelphians about the Holocaust; granted 2,276 scholarships for Jewish learning and camping locally; and so much more.

This year, let’s do even more to serve vulnerable populations, inspire community engagement and support Jewish life and learning. With five Super Sunday locations — in Center City, Bala Cynwyd, Malvern, Fort Washington and Newtown — it’s never been easier to Carry the Light.

Be a Super Sunday hero: Spend time with friends and neighbors while keeping our Jewish communities strong. For information (including shift times, child care info, FAQs and our volunteer training video) or to register, visit jewishphilly.org/supersunday.

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