Hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Festive Event Salutes the Sanctity of the Land
(JERUSALEM — January 15, 2014) The Knesset of Israel held its first ever Tu’Bshvat Seder today hosted by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.
The seder, which replicates the four cups of wine of the Passover Seder and includes traditional readings associated with land and produce, was conducted jointly by MK Ruth Calderon and Rabbi David Stav, Founder and President of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.
Tu B’Shvat is taught in Jewish tradition to be the birthday of the trees and serves as the day in the Jewish calendar when thanks is given for food and produce. In his opening remarks, Speaker Edelstein focused on how the holiday promotes an enhanced connection with the land of Israel where even in the midst of the winter season one can connect to the concept of blossoming trees.
“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winters but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland,” Edelstein said while expressing hope that the Knesset Seder would become an annual tradition.
Rabbi David Stav, whose efforts as head of Tzohar have been instrumental in promoting enhanced connections between Jewish tradition and the Israeli legislature, said that at its essence Tu B’Shvat is a holiday of belief. “The truth is that even here in Israel where the weather is relatively warm we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom,” he said. “But the lesson is that we believe that the good times of produce and success are just ahead and that is a message of faith that has meaning far beyond just this holiday.”
MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), herself a Talmud scholar said that the initiative for the Knesset Seder was built around a concept of promoting a Jewish renaissance within Israeli society. “This holiday serves to remind all of us of the beauty of the land we live in and to better recognize the importance of everything we have.”
The Seder which featured foods from all the Seven Species known as particular holy in Jewish tradition was attended by over two hundred people including Government Ministers, Knesset Members and staff and students from around Israel. “This holiday allows us to again reflect on our unity as a people through the common love for the land and we therefore look forward to making this an annual tradition,” said Rabbi Stav.