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Kibbutz Lotan - Tu B'shvat Campaign

“Blessed are You, God…who has made Your world lacking nothing, and has produced goodly creatures and goodly trees, to give delight unto Your children.”  Version of blessing recited upon seeing trees blossom for the first time in the year.

Tu B’shvat can be a springboard for ecological education and activism in our homes, schools and communities!  This year, please consider partnering with Kibbutz Lotan, an ecological Reform kibbutz, as you explore Tu B’shvat with your students and congregation.

In Vayikra Rabba (25:3), we learn that one of the ways to walk in God’s path is to plant trees.  Each tree is home to birds, insects, other plants and organisms and many animals. A tree is a world to itself. With each tree that we plant, we are essentially saving a world. Thus, we see Tu B’shvat as a holiday of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Lotan's Center for Creative Ecology

Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology, rooted in Tikun Olam, is dedicated both to community ecological action and to being an educational center for visitors from Israel and the world. Our work includes the hands-on Environmental Education Experience, where recycling, organic gardening, alternative building, environmental awareness and Jewish sources are incorporated into individual and community action and education.

Here are two ways you can support Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology and Reform Judaism in Israel, Planting seeds in Israel– trees, vegetables and the seeds of growth in Israeli youth:

Greening of Lotan is a unique method of supporting both ecology and Reform Judaism in Israel.  Greening Certificates are "planting" donation opportunities supporting the continuing development of our ecological work. A minimum donation of $5 per planting certificate is requested. Certificates are available to individuals and groups, can be ordered in advance and can include the name of your synagogue or group, as well as Kibbutz Lotan. For certificates and further information, please contact Susan (with Lotan in the subject line) at

Contributing to Friends of Lotan: Friends of Lotan is a not-for-profit organization which provides programs, events, and fundraising activities in support of Kibbutz Lotan and its Center for Creative Ecology as educational leaders in the promotion of ecological awareness, Reform Zionism, community and Jewish identity in Israel. For more information on Friends of Lotan's projects click HERE

 Please join us in our important and holy mission of tikkun olam.

Educational activities

All programs work with fundraising for environmental education and the planting of tree and plants at Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology via the Greening of Lotan program.

All ages: Tu B’shvat Seder: Please see sources and links at end of document.

Elementary School ages:

1) VIDEO: “Families of Israel” which was part of the PBS series, “Families of the World.”  The first half of the 30-minute video follows a day in the life of Inbar, a then third-grader on Kibbutz Lotan. (The second half covers an urban family who happen to be active in the Israeli Conservative movement.) The film, which gives a delightful view of life on Kibbutz Lotan and in Israel via the children’s’ eyes, is most appropriate for 1st through 5th graders, but adults will enjoy it as well. The video costs $19.95 for individuals and $29.95 for organizational use, including public performance rights. Teachers’ guides with full text of the video are available for free, at -  To order the video, contact the distributor (who represents the film’s producers), Selina Yoon, Master Communications at or call 1-800-888-9681

2) Sharon Halper (the URJ – NJ – West Hudson Valley Council Regional Educator and a member of Friends of Lotan) has developed educational programming based on the videos for use in religious schools (3rd-5th graders). The program, called “Postcards from Inbar” can be requested from Sharon at

Elementary and Middle School Ages  (The stories are good for all ages!)

3) Build a recycled tree from garbage!
Have students bring in cartons, tins, etc. and use them to build a tree.  Classes can build one tree together or smaller group or individual trees.
Motif: One generation goes, another comes, but the earth abides forever. -Ecclesiastes 1:4

A – Read the story of Honi The Circle Maker and the carob tree that is printed below in the text section. What do we learn from this story? What do we “plant” most in the earth today? (The answer is our garbage!)

B- Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (the story of a boy and a tree who gave its all the for sake of the boy grown into a man).

Use the expression  “things just don’t grow on trees” to begin to explain the symbolism involved.

Discussion ideas for older children are on the following page.

4) Build a recycled tree (see above). Discussion ideas based on the activity and/or stories listed above.  Consumerism and production are circular processes.  The leader’s task is to connect the group to its part in the process and show how in most cases they are very removed from production, and most likely, from solutions to the problem of post consumer waste.

Prod the group with questions about their particular habits… Do they consider the farmers when they buy produce, the assembly line workers when they purchase manufactured things, the condition of Far Eastern laborers upon acquiring electronics and computers?  Do they imagine the smells of the factories and fields?  Is it all sanitary and clean, and do they appreciate that after it all gets used, it needs to be somehow disposed?

The Recycled Trees are a reminder that we have a responsibility to find solutions to the mountains of garbage we are creating.

5) What is My Ecological Footprint? (More appropriate for older kids)
Define the Ecological Footprint concept (older kids may have learned this in school).
The Ecological Footprint is a measure of the 'load' imposed by a given population on nature. It represents the land area necessary to sustain current levels of resource consumption and waste discharge by that population.

The ecological footprint concept provides a concrete measure of our use of natural resources with respect to the planet’s total capacity. Current measures of humanity’s ecological footprint show that we are utilizing Earth’s resources at a level of 120%. To put it another way, in order to maintain current rates of consumption, we require 1.2 planet Earth’s; Or to put it another way, we are currently consuming in one year what it takes one year and three months for the planet to produce.

What contributes to my personal/ my family/ my community footprint? How can we increase or decrease it? Calculate your ecological footprint using the link below.
What is Jewish about reducing our impact on the environment? (See texts printed below # 2,6, 8, 10, and 12)

5) Another version of the Footprint activity that is more intensive and requires more “homework” - Green Audit of community/ Hebrew School/ self – good for 6th grade +
(See the greening your synagogue section in the links section below.)

Links for more info:

Kibbutz Lotan's YouTube channel:

Find pictures of Lotan’s ecological work here:

Greening of Lotan brochures:

Great Tu B'shvat general information and resources:

  1. URJ's Jewish Parent Page – Tu Bish'vat
  2. Rabbi Amy Scheinerman's webpage  - click on the Tu Bshvat link
  3. The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Living:
  4. Canfei Nesherim (an Orthodox Jewish Environmental group)

Sample Seders:

    1. - 2 versions
    2. 2 good seders + other materials

Greening your Synagogue:

  1. The COEJL guide :
  2. The Green Faith Sustainable Sanctuaries Project:
  3. The URJ guide:

Ecological footprint quiz:
Foot print Calculator: (simpler)


1) Honi and the Carob Tree:
One day Honi was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree.  Honi asked him, "How long does it take to bear fruit?"
The man replied, "Seventy years." 
Honi further asked him, "Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?"
The man replied, "I found this world provided with carob trees and as my forebears planted these for me, so I too plant them for my children.
Honi then sat down to have a meal, and sleep overcame him.  As he slept, a small cave formed around him, which hid him from sight, and he continued to sleep for seventy years.  When he awoke, he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and Honi asked him, "Are you the man who planted this tree?"
The man replied, "I am his grandson."                   Babylonian Talmud- Ta'anit 23a

2) Behold my works, how beautiful and commendable they are. All that I have created I have created for your sake, be careful not to corrupt or destroy My world; for if you corrupt it there will be no one after you to repair it. 
Midrash Kohelet Rabbah VII: 2.1

(The following texts are from Rabbi Daniel Swartz: “Jews, Jewish Text and Nature: A Brief History)

3) Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult! Let the sea and all within it thunder, the fields and everything in them exult! Then shall all the forest trees shout for joy, at the presence of the Eternal One, who is coming to rule the Earth; God will rule the world justly and its people in faithfulness (Psalm 96:11-13).

4) For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The blossoms have appeared in the land. The time of the song-bird has come; the song of the turtledove is heard in our land. The green figs form on the fig tree, the blossoming vines give off fragrance (Song of Songs 2:11-13).

5) Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai ... used to say: if you have a sapling in your hand, and someone should say to you that the Messiah has come, stay and complete the planting, and then go to greet the Messiah (Avot de Rabbi Nathan, 31b).

6) How can a person of flesh and blood follow God? ... God, from the very beginning of creation, was occupied before all else with planting, as it is written, "And first of all [mi-kedem, usually translated as "in the East"], the Eternal God planted a Garden in Eden [Genesis 2:8] Therefore ... occupy yourselves first and foremost with planting (Leviticus Rabbah 25:3).

7) Abraham ibn Ezra, one of the great Torah commentators, wrote in his poem, "God Everywhere,"
"Wherever I turn my eyes, around on Earth or to the heavens/I see you in the field of stars/ I see You in the yield of the land/in every breath and sound, a blade of grass, a simple flower, an echo of Your holy Name."

8) It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of humanity. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of something else (Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, 456).

9) Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass and all growing things, and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer (Nachman of Bratzlav, Maggid Sichot, 48).

10) On Tu B'shvat/when spring comes/An angel descends/ledger in hand/and enters each bud, each twig, each tree, and all our garden flowers./From town to town, from village to village/the angel makes a winged way/searching the valleys, inspecting the hills/flying over the desert/and returns to heaven./ And when the ledger will be full/of trees and blossoms and shrubs/when the desert is turned into a meadow/and all our land a watered garden/the Messiah will appear (Shin Shalom, modern Israeli poet).

11) I can contemplate a tree. I can accept it as a picture.... I can feel it as a movement.... I can assign it to a species and observe it as an instance.... I can overcome its uniqueness and form so rigorously that I can recognize it only as an expression of law.... I can dissolve it into a number, into a pure relation between numbers, and externalize it. Throughout all of this the tree, the tree remains my object and has its time span, its kind and condition. But it can also happen, if will and grace are joined, that as I contemplate the tree I am drawn into a relation, and the tree ceases to be an It (Martin Buber, I and Thou, 57-58).

12) In Vayikra Rabba (25:3), we learn that one of the ways to walk in God’s path is to plant trees.  Each tree is home to birds, insects, other plants and organisms and many animals. A tree is a world to itself. With each tree that we plant, we are essentially saving a world. Thus, we see Tu B’shvat as a holiday of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

13) “Blessed are You, God…who has made Your world lacking nothing, and has produced goodly creatures and goodly trees, to give delight unto Your children.”  Version of blessing recited upon seeing trees blossom for the first time in the year.

>> To the Greening of Kibbutz Lotan Donation Form

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