Tu BiShevat Party, Tel Aviv Municipality, 1960
This poster was published by the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Yeda-Am (Folklore) organization, advertising a party in celebration of Tu B’Shvat with the inclusion of various lectures. The text on the poster is green symbolising the trees that are central to Tu B’Shvat celebrations. At the top of the poster are the emblems of the Tel Aviv Municipality and of Yeda Am. Underneath these is a box with the details of the time and place of the party. The main feature of the poster is the decorated arch that includes turrets and ornate buildings. Within the arch are details about the program. The public is invited to attend a lecture by Dr. Yom Tov Levinsky titled “Pulchan L’ilanot” (the religious ritual for the trees), which, according to the publicity, would deal with general and Jewish folklore about trees and include the reading of legends and stories on the topic.
The Yeda-Am organization was founded in Israel in 1942 by Yom Tov Levinsky. The organization, and later on the journal with this name that they published, documented and researched Jewish folklore in Israel and in the Diaspora. Yom Tov Levinsky was born in Poland in 1899 and was a Zionist leader, journalist, and educator. Levinsky immigrated to Israel in 1935 and was a founding member of Yeda-Am which was responsible for documenting new traditions being established in Israel and the traditions and customs of Jewish communities around the world. As part of his activities, Levinsky lectured throughout Israel about Jewish festivals and about the Jewish life cycle and represented Israel at international conferences dealing with folklore.
Tu B’Shvat, the 15th day of the month of Shvat, is first mentioned in the Mishnah as one of the Jewish New Years, the date that marked the beginning of the tax year for fruits and trees. At the time of the Temple, this meant taking a portion of one’s crops and giving it to the Levites. This special day evolved into the New Year for trees, fruit, and nature that we know today. The tradition of planting trees slowly developed, not as a halachic ritual, but as a Zionist, nationalistic one. In 1884 the pioneers of the village of Yesud Hama’alah planted 1,500 fruit trees on Tu B’Shvat, and in 1890 Rabbi Ze’ev Yaavitz planted seeds with his students in Zichron Yaakov. By doing this, Yaavitz and the Yesud Hama’alah farmers gave a Zionist interpretation to this mishnaic date by planting trees to make the Land of Israel flourish. In 1908, the teachers union in Jerusalem adopted this new tradition and made Tu B’Shvat the “Festival of Planting” that was later adopted by the JNF-KKL and has since been celebrated by planting trees and promoting environmental concerns. Another traditional way of celebrating Tu B’Shvat is conducting a Tu B’Shvat Seder, a ritual first conducted in Tzfat (Safed) in the seventeenth century. This includes eating fruit of the Land of Israel and reading special passages that relate to fruit and the Land of Israel.
This resource can be used when teaching about Tu B’Shvat and its traditions in Jewish Studies classes.
Teachers can also use this when teaching about Jewish cultural identity in Israel.
Jewish History teachers can use it to examine the history behind the rituals and traditions of Tu B’Shvat throughout the ages.
What colour is the poster?
What will take place at the party?
Who is the lecturer?
Which organisations are hosting the evening?
Where and when is the party?
Reading Between the Lines
Why do you think this colour was used in the poster?
Why was this specific lecturer chosen to speak at the event?
What is the main theme of Tu B’Shvat according to this poster?
Why do you think the organisations chose the theme of Folklore for their Tu B’Shvat party?
Why is Tu B’Shvat significant?
Who is the target audience for the party?
How do you celebrate Tu B’Shvat in your school or synagogue?
Do you think Tu B’Shvat is important for the Jewish people today? Why?
How would you define Jewish folklore today?
You are in charge of organising a Tu B’Shvat celebration for your community.
Who will your guest speaker be?
What events will you include?
Where and when will the party take place?
Make a poster invitation on Canva.com including all of these points. Don’t forget to decorate it appropriately!
Tu B’Shvat Party
11 Shvat 5720
At the Yeda-Am Club
39 Nachmani St.
“Religious ritual for the trees”
A session about general and Jewish folklore
Speaker: Dr. Yom Tov Levinsky
With readings, stories, etc.
Moderator: Moshe Bitan