Tu B’Shevat gets its name from the date on which the holiday occurs, the 15th of the month of Shevat. A minor Jewish holiday, it is often referred to as the new year (or “birthday”) of the trees. The holiday originated in the Talmud, and was based on the date chosen for calculating the agricultural cycle of taking tithes from the produce of the trees, which were brought as first-fruit offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The holiday of Tu B’Shevat fell out of practice after the destruction of the Second Temple, but was revived by kabbalists in the Middle Ages. They instituted the practice of the 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.

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. Some modern practices include donating money to plant trees in Israel or planting trees locally. The kabbalistic Tu B’Shevat seder has also been reclaimed. As part of the Tu B’Shevat seder it is customary to eat from shiv’at ha’minim (seven species endemic to the Land of Israel): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates.

Since Tu B’Shevat puts wine in a central role, we will visit the Ron Rubin Winery near Sebastopol, Monday February 6 from 2-4 PM we will enjoy a winery tour followed by a tasting with crackers and cheeses (supplied by Beth Ami).

Please RSVP. We need to tell the winery how many people to expect. The winery is providing the tasting free of charge, and Beth Ami is providing cheese and crackers, etc. There is no charge for the Tu B’Shevat event, but a donation to Beth Ami will be helpful, and we hope you will enjoy the wines from Ron Rubin so much, you will want to purchase some.

I suggest the Santa Rosa members meet at Beth Ami and carpool to the winery which is off Highway 116 between Graton and Forrestville on Ross Rd. Turn right off either 12,Occidental Rd or Guernneville Rd and go to Ross Station Rd and turn left on it. Ross Rd is the first road to the left.

At Beth Ami we have conducted seders, walked in the woods, enjoyed nature photography, learned about olives and wine, and helped the Nursery School children to plant trees (above). We hope you join us on this year’s adventure. It should be a lovely time for all.