Tu Bi'Shevat Stamps, 1975
This poster advertises Tu Bi’Shevat stamps issued in Israel on January 14, 1975. The title given on the poster is “Arbor Day Stamps” and at the bottom of the poster is the date the stamps were issued, 2nd Shvat 5735, January 14, 1975. The values of the stamps are 2.00, 0.01, and 0.35 lira. The logo of the Israeli Postal Authority featuring a running deer appears above the date.
The top two stamps on the poster depict two children celebrating Tu Bi'Shevat. Both children are wearing a floral headband as is customary on this day, and the child on the left is also wearing a kova tembel, a hat that used to be typical Israeli attire. The child on the left is outside and in the background are flowers, grass, and a rainbow. He is holding a plant pot with a small plant, probably for planting, he also has a water bottle hanging from his belt. The children are both wearing festive white shirts, presumably in honour of the festival. The girl on the right stamp is also outside among flowers and grass and is holding some branches. The bottom stamp features a bird singing on the branches of a flowering tree. All the stamps are designed in a colourful and modernist style.
The stamps were designed by Israeli artist Asher Kalderon. Born in 1929, Kaldron’s became well-known for his modern and unique style that would often capture biblical or traditional themes. He has won many awards for his paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other designs.
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 Bi’Shevat is conducting a Tu Bi’Shevat 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.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this poster when teaching about Tu Bi’Shevat.
Similarly, Jewish History and Israel Studies teachers can use this poster when teaching about Tu B’Shvat and nature conservation in Israel.
Art and Design teachers can use this poster as an example of artwork and design in the 1970s and to teach about the work of Israeli artists such as Asher Kalderon.
What are the images on the poster?
What are they used for?
What is the text on the poster?
Describe the scenes in each of the stamps that feature on the poster.
What logo appears on the poster?
Reading Between the Lines
What is significant about the date the poster was published?
What is Arbor Day?
What aspects of Tu Bi’Shevat are featured on the stamps?
Were these aspects always the focus of Tu Bi’Shevat?
What were the main features of this day in different historical periods?
These stamps feature tree planting on Tu Bi’Shevat.
What other ways is this day celebrated?
How is Tu Bi’Shevat celebrated in Israel?
Why do you think Kalderon chose to depict a bird sitting in a tree in the third stamp?
What features do you like about the Tu Bi’Shevat stamps?
These stamps show children planting trees on Tu Bi'Shevat.
Do you celebrate this day? How?
Compare these stamps to stamps in use today.
How are they similar or different?
Do stamps in your country also depict meaningful holidays and events?
Pick a Jewish holiday or event and create your own stamp on Canva.com that illustrates an aspect of the day.
Explain your choice of design.