Tu B’ Shevat (Hebrew בשׁבט ט״ו): Is considered the New Year of the Trees.  It is really a legal contract between the Holy land of Israel and the tithes that are separated from the produce grown.  Tithes is the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to G-d.  The tithes differ from year to year in a seven-year Shemittah cycle; the point at which the trees bud their fruits and that they belong to the next years cycle is decided by the 15th of Shevat.

As usually, there is controversy over if what would be the contract year; should it be the first of Shevat or the fifteenth of Shevat.  It was debated between two different Rabbi’s, Shamai and Hillel.  Shamai basically said, since the rest of the New Years fall on the first of the month, so should this.  Hillel said since in Sukkot, the world is judged in regard to water and this occurs on the 15th of Tishrei, and since trees derive their source of live from water, Tu B’ Shevat should be on the 15th of Shevat.  Well the Rabbi’s of the Talmud ruled in favor of Hillel.

Some of the customs associated with this festival is to plant a tree, like arbor day in America.  This year, Temple Sholom is asking that you help replant the Carmel forest in Israel.  Go to Project: From Black to Green to see how you can make a difference.  Some people recall from childhood memories of buying a tree (for a dollar) and having it planted in Israel.  Other customs include: eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob and almonds.  In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree, which grows wild around the country, coincides with Tu B’ Shevat.