faith in a seed
For Tu B’Shevat with my First Grade class, I wanted something hands-on, but not paper-based. Something thematic that links the Land of Israel with our own community, something the kids could make or do to gain a concrete reference point to a Jewish Spring holiday in the midst of a Nashville Winter. We’d already done nearly instant-gratification Tu B’Shevat gardening (eggshell garden), and I didn’t think they’d mind a project that required patience and uncertainty.
In a nutshell (an almond shell), here’s what we did, as copied from my exclamation-marked blurb in the school newsletter:
We finished up our tree celebration with a look at what happens in the land of Israel on the 15th of Shevat (the sap rises and the almond tree—ha shkedia—bursts into blossom). We touched almonds in the hull, cracked them open and ate the nuts, and then planted a few to grow our own almond trees. In contrast, we looked at the 15th of Shevat in Nashville and visited several trees at synagogue, touching, smelling and dissecting buds that will soon become flowers and leaves. Ask your child to tell you what made the rows of holes in the big sugar maple trees and why (yellow-bellied sapsuckers, to drill holes for sap and to trap insects!).
And, here’s the detailed version: Tu B’Shevat Almond “Sow” and Tell
Ideally, the almond tree is the first in the land of Israel to burst into Spring blossom, and it does so in delicate pink and white glory. Like most stone fruit trees, it’s in the rose family, and the flowers definitely have the family face.
Tradition tells us that the sap rises on the fifteenth of the month of Shevat, and this life-force is what triggers the tree’s reproductive cycle to start all over again: flower, pollination, fruit, seed, plant, flower, pollination, fruit, seed, Continue reading