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Five Ways To Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat is sometimes referred to as Jewish Arbor Day. Can you celebrate Tu B’Shvat in the midst of a pandemic? Possibly even without leaving your home? The answer is a resounding yes. 

The holiday, which recognizes the beginning of Spring in Israel, kicks off the evening of Wednesday, January 27, and continues through the following day. Popular activities include planting trees and feasting on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. But because this year is anything but normal, we’re suggesting some new traditions along with the tried and true favorites.
 
Share Your Homegrown Fruit
If you’re fortunate to have fruit trees that are heavy with ripe fruit, consider reaching out to Food Forward. The 12-year-old San Fernando Valley-based organization works with hunger relief agencies throughout Southern California. And while they are currently operating at reduced capacity, they are doing their best to collect fruit from those with a plentiful supply (over 100 pieces). What kind of fruit? Just about everything, with the exception of loquats. Start by registering your trees on the website. Food Forward also provides helpful tips on other ways to share your bounty.
 
Start A Wishing Tree
The wishing tree on Babcock Avenue just north of Valley Spring Lane in Studio City (pictured) inspired this idea. It features the wishes of hundreds of visitors, from “good health for everyone” to “a puppy,” scrawled on colorful paper tags. While you could just as easily create a wishing tree in your backyard or even a miniature wishing plant in your kitchen, we like the community aspect. All you need to start yours is a basket, some small scraps of hole punched paper, a pen, string, and perhaps a wish or two of your own.
 
Take a Hike
We’ve got nothing against Fryman in Studio City or Runyan in Hollywood. But why not mix it up. Becca Bodenstein, a dean and teacher at de Toledo High School who is looking forward to a Tu B’Shvat hike with her family, likes Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades, the Hollywood Reservoir, Malibu Creek State Park, and Corriganville Park in Simi Valley. Another one to add to your list: Serrania Ridge Trail which begins on the southeast side of Serrania Park in Woodland Hills. It’s about two-and-a-half miles out and back, not too rigorous, with swell valley views. 
 
Get a Free Tree (or Several)
City Plants provides free shade and fruit trees to Los Angeles city residents for their yard or parkway. It takes about 6-8 weeks for yard trees to be delivered. (And yes they’re delivering now, with strict COVID precautions in place.) The planting part is on you. The process for parkway trees takes longer since it involves the city. The non-profit also recently started hosting tree adoption events. Check their calendar for upcoming dates. Note trees must be requested in advance.
 
Eat Cake
Here’s an excellent excuse to tuck into a slice of chocolate layer cake. Tu B’Shvat is “commonly known as the ‘birthday of the trees,’” says Lisa Clumeck Graef, Director of Jewish Life at de Toledo. “We should take advantage of this carved out time in the Jewish calendar to celebrate and to allow ourselves to be reminded of the beauty that exists in front of us on a day to day basis, to show gratitude for the trees, and to do what you would do on any other birthday: have a cupcake, or piece of cake. But make sure to do it outside under your favorite tree!” 
 
Other possibilities include partaking in some of the virtual programming offered by TreePeople or the Theodore Payne Foundation, having a picnic, or trying a new to your family fruit or vegetarian dish.

Happy Tu B’Shvat!
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Located in the San Fernando Valley portion of the City of Los Angeles in Northern Los Angeles County. de Toledo High School is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Builders of Jewish Education (BJE,) and financially supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation.