First Knesset Tu Bishvat Seder led by Tzohar
First Knesset Tu Bishvat Seder led by Tzohar Tzohar

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization helped lead the Knesset's first ever seder for Tu Bishvat, the Jewish "birthday of the trees," on Wednesday. The event was hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Tu Bishvat's seder replicates the Passover seder's 4 cups of wine, and features the reading of Jewish religious texts related to the land and produce as different fruits and nuts are eaten. These foods include the "seven species," which are considered particularly special in Judaism.

The seder, the first of its kind at the Knesset, was led by Rabbi David Stav, Founder and President of Tzohar, along with MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid). Rabbi Stav was a candidate for Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi last year, while Calderon has been outspoken supporting Reform and Conservative Judaism, and a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Edelstein spoke at the seder, emphasizing the connection with the land of Israel that is highlighted in Tu Bishvat.

“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,” remarked Edelstein, adding his hopes that the seder will become an annual tradition at the Knesset.

Rabbi Stav commented "the truth is that even here in Israel where the weather is relatively warm we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom. 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.”

The seder attracted over 200 attendants, including government ministers and MKs.

"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," noted Calderon.

The shared love of the land was expressed as a point of connection for the Jewish people by Rabbi Stav, who said Tu Bishvat "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."

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