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Community To Celebrate Jewish Earth Day In White Plains

Community Unitarian Church of White Plains.
Community Unitarian Church of White Plains. Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Westchester Community for Humanistic Judaism will host a Tu B’Shvat seder to celebrate Jewish Earth Day with seasonal refreshments on Saturday, Feb. 7, starting at 2:30 p.m. at the Community Unitarian Church, 468 Rosedale Ave., White Plains.

“Tu B’Shvat as a Jewish winter holiday has been gaining popularity in recent years as the 'New Year of Trees,' and with today’s concerns over the environment, this holiday takes on greater meaning,” said Dmitry Turovsky, a resident of Scarsdale and president of the congregation.

In ancient times, this “new year” was connected with a tax levied on fruit trees in Israel. Because of its secular nature, the rabbis treated Tu B’Shvat (literally, the 15th of the Hebrew winter month Shvat) as a very minor holiday.

Jewish mystics in the 1600s linked this holiday with the Kabbalistic notion of the Tree of Life, and began holding seders, or celebratory meals, in its honor, using wines of varying colors, fruits and nuts to symbolize the passage of the seasons.

With the rise of environmental movements, Tu B’Shvat has taken on another dimension, and is now considered the Jewish Earth Day. Jewish responsibility for the earth has its roots in the idea that human beings are partners in creation, and Jewish environmentalists have developed the concept of “eco-kosher” as a synonym for “environmentally and socially responsible,” or “green.”

Turovsky is coordinating the Feb. 7 event, alongside Rabbi Frank Tamburello and Rhoda Kleiman.

The cost is $10 per person for nonmembers; there is no charge for children under age 13.

Reservations must be made before Sunday, Feb. 1. RSVP to irkleiman@verizon.net. Make checks payable WCHJ  and send to I. Kleiman, 165 West End Ave., Apt. 12D, New York, NY 10023.

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