Beautiful plants are already arriving in Meir Panim’s six free restaurant-style soup kitchens throughout Israel in honor of Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat, [the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat], falls this year on Monday, January 25.
Tu B’Shvat is like a Jewish Arbor Day. Although considered a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, is taken seriously throughout the Land of Israel both to fulfill the dream of David Ben-Gurion to “make the desert bloom” and also to recognize the Biblical connection to the special foliage in the land of Israel.
“About 1600 colorful plants will be distributed to all of our patrons in honor of the holiday,” notes Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim. “In addition, we are including additional fruit treats with our meals to increase the festive spirit.”
Children who participate in Meir Panim’s five after school programs are also receiving a plant decorated with a ribbon and a poem. The poem reflects Meir Panim’s desire that all children will grow and blossom in a healthful and productive way. In addition, families are arriving to the youth clubs for joint, relationship building activities.
Traditionally, Tu B’Shvat is commemorated by planting trees in Israel and partaking in fruits, especially those mentioned in the Bible. One of the Biblical praises for the Land of Israel is from Deuteronomy 8:8, “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey”.
Additionally, the Bible states that “Man is [compared to] the tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19). To that end, Sternbuch states, “Meir Panim does all that it can to help the impoverished and lonely in Israel bloom. We hope that by providing nourishment, sunny smiles and a warm, caring atmosphere, the downtrodden will thrive.”