January 17th-19th 2022 – Tu Bishvat

Trees 

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

This week we’ve celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the holiday of trees, which began as a technical-legal-halakhic occasion, became a celebration of locally-grown fresh fruits, then to a day of tree planting, and over the years evolved into a festival regaling the environment and preservation of nature. Out of respect and appreciation to our friends the trees and to Israeli agriculture, this week’s Newsletter is dedicated to Tu B’Shvat. Chag Sameach!

The origin of the day (not yet a holiday) is in Tractate Rosh HaShana, which discusses various dates that determine the period for taxation, shmitta, tithes, etc.

The four new years are… On the first of Shvat, the new year for the trees, these are the words of the House of Shammai; The House of Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof

In order to determine the beginning of the year from which tree tithes are taken, the scholars of the Mishna examined nature and concluded that by the month of Shvat, most of the seasonal rains have already fallen. From this point on, as the days get longer and spring gets closer, the ripening of the fruit on the trees begins. But beyond its significance to this halakhic calculation, Tu B’Shvat had no particular festival status, only that it carried similarities to those mentioned in succession, Rosh Chodesh Nissan or Elul.

Yet the letter of the law doesn’t always cancel the instinctive feeling that something is happening during this season, and that the flowers and tiny fruits budding on the trees are a reason to celebrate. Remnants of liturgy found in the Cairo Genizah, dating from the era of the Geonim (sixth-tenth century), teach us of special prayers for Tu B’Shvat, in which wishes for a bountiful year for the trees were expressed, and it seems like Tu B’Shvat was actually a special day and holiday.

With the Crusader conquests, Jewish settlement was dispersed, and many of the holiday customs disappeared. And yet, festive traces remained with the stubbornness of folksy customs that perhaps get even stronger from a distance. Thus remained the custom of the Ashkenazic communities to desist from reciting Tachanun or fast on Tu B’Shvat (as is customary for other festive days). Evidence from the 16th century indicates a custom associated with the city of Safed to eat fruits (fresh, not dried!) on Tu B’Shvat. Rabbi Yissachar Sossan, a Moroccan scholar who immigrated to Safed, mentions this in his book Avor Shanim: “And the Ashkenazic Jews, may God protect them, tend to honor the day with various fruits of the trees.”

And still, it was probably minor little customs here and there, not a true holiday. The person who resurrected Tu B’Shvat, making it an actual holiday, was a Kabalist from the 17th century, the anonymous author of Chemdat Yamim, who emphatically declared this about Tu B’Shvat:

And it is a good custom to increase fruits on this day, and to praise and sing of them, as I have taught all the friends amongst me [the group of Ha’Ari Kabalists]. And though in the words of the Rabbi [Ha’Ari] this custom is not apparent; in any case, I think it is a wonderful tikkun in the visible and the hidden. For as the Yerushalmi writes… “May the humble hear and rejoice- said Rabbi Ivon: Whoever has seen varieties of fruits and not eaten will have to explain himself…” And the reason for this is that in the same way he who enjoys this world without blessing is called a thief, such is he who sees fruits and various sweetnesses and has not eaten or blessed them… And in order to correct this, this day is proper to eat various fruits and bless them with intention, for a Mitzvah that is done at its time is pleasant…

He then proceeded to prescribe a seder of eating 30 species from the fruits of Israel, as well as texts to read and study during the feast. This seder, determined by the author of Chemdat Yamim and printed in a special book called Pri Etz Hadar, became common among the Jewish communities of Italy, Turkey, the Balkan countries and the Oriental countries, from Bukhara to Morocco. The chapter relating to the Tu B’Shvat seder was printed in a special book called Pri Etz Hadar (the Fruit of the Citrus Tree), and has been reprinted many times. The heart of this holiday for Jews in Eastern countries is a spirited, festive meal resembling the Passover seder, to which you invite relatives and neighbors, prominent guests and poor scholars, abounding with light, a decorative table and song. Various communities added distinctive customs and recited poems and special liturgies written by local liturgist, emphasizing the fruits of Israel and specifically the seven species with which the country was blessed.

These festive meals connected the Jewish communities in the Diaspora to the rhythm of nature in Mideastern Israel, and gradually raised the level of yearning and longing: “Over the meal of Eretz Yisrael fruits, on the fifteenth of Shvat, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk asked his student Rabbi Yitzchak Meir to speak on current issues. Rabbi Yitzchak Meir began his dissertation with a long-winded debate around the Talmudic topic of Rosh HaShana for the Trees. He posed questions and gave answers, compared and analyzed. Said Rabbi Mendel: Were we in the Land of Israel, it would be enough to go out to the field and gaze upon the trees in order to understand the simple meaning of Rosh HaShana for the Trees, not by long-winded debates.” (Yalkut HaChochma)

In the 1880’s, with the renewal of the Jewish settlement in Israel, the need arose to find new content for this day, perhaps to proclaim: Now that we’re here, it is not enough to eat from the fruits of the land left to us by our forefathers (and Arab farmers), it’s time to plant new fruits. On Tu B’Shvat 1890, teacher and writer Ze’ev Yavetz led his students from the school in Zichron Ya’akov to a festive planting, and thus dictated the new character of Tu B’Shvat: a holiday of planting, not merely Rosh HaShana of the Trees. In 1908, the Teachers’ Union formally proclaimed Tu B’Shvat to be the holiday of planting. Later, the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) adopted this date.

However, over the years things have somewhat shrivelled, and a cynical note has begun to creep into the holiday mood. Many times, the festive planting does not result in a forest but rather in new plantings, same place, one year later. Azaria Alon writes, “Looking back, we can only blame ourselves, the Keren Kayemet and the Teachers’ Union, for the fact that Tu B’Shvat is not a holiday for nature but a holiday of planting. Let’s search the songs and ads for a word about what will happen to the plant after it is planted, about our commitment to the tree after we leave the planting site.” (Remember Salach Shabati?)

And so, when new content for the holiday was required, the SPNI (upon the initiative of one of the very first activists, Avraham Bumi Toren from Kibbutz Ma’abarot) suggested that Tu B’Shvat become the holiday of nature.

According to an old Arab tale, man and animal tremble on rainy days, and crave pasture space. Allah, in his great benevolence, sends down to them from the skies three cinders. The first cinder- the cinder of air, comes down on the seventh of Shvat and warms up the air. On the 14th of Shvat, Allah will send down from the skies a second cinder, the cinder of water. Upon its descent, the water will warm up, penetrate the trees and make them bloom and produce fruit. The farmer then counts seven more days, and Allah then sends down his third cinder, the cinder of earth. This is when the earth warms up and is covered with soft grass. Said Rabbi Hai Gaon, “It seems that Tu B’Shvat is Rosh HaShana for the Trees, adjacent to the “second cinder” day, termed in Arabic “Aljamra Althania,” which is when the trees get wet and start to drink, and it is close to the 15th of Shvat, so it is Rosh HaShana of the Trees.” (Yom Tov Lewinsky, Sefer Ha-Moadim)

This period of time in which nature shifts from cold winter to renewed growth, is expressed as the start of major blooming, budding, the awakening of various birds for nesting and reproduction, and winter wildflowers grow gently and courageously in the cold weather. Going out into nature to view its world has become the new content of the holiday. Another facet of Tu B’Shvat originated with the popular campaign of the 70’s to save the wildflowers of Israel, stressing the rule not to injure, pick, or uproot the rare wildflowers.

The month of Shvat is really a time of wonderful renewal, and not only because the rains will stop, but actually because they are still continuing during Shvat, enabling the growth of new shoots, buds, and blossoms. This is also the month of foaling amongst the goats and sheep flocks. Now of all times, when it’s still so cold outside, the baby lambs and kids (goats) are being born, because the world around them is full of greenery to eat. One look at the Chubeza vegetable beds illustrates this green outburst (and with it the need to constantly weed…), highlighted by wild grass that can make do with the little rain it’s gotten so far.

These days, perhaps because we are gradually disconnecting from nature, many people are moving to the city. Here the abundant green turns to cement with only a few shoots able to break through the pavement cracks, and Tu B’Shvat has become the holiday for the environment, in a general sort of way, and specifically in matters of recycling and educating about damage control. Not that this isn’t good–it’s creative and interesting and beneficial. But I feel a little ache in my heart as we get distanced farther away from my childhood memories of walking in my boots and coat to the planting site, digging my fingers into the freezing earth, taking the plant out of its black plastic jacket and placing it gently into the hole my father dug with a great big shovel. True, it is important to continue to attend to this tree, to care for it and cultivate it, but a recycling workshop in honor of the occasion lacks the sensual experience of planting and touching the earth.

So, if you won’t actually be planting trees this year, try refraining from limiting yourselves to recycled creations made in your warm house, but actually go out to nature, to mushroom or wild herb-collecting or simply a nice hike in the clean air amidst all the green and blossoming. For one minute, actually touch and not just look: push your hands through the fragrant wet soil, lie on a green carpet of nature and feel the soft leaves, look up into the sky and see shapes in the clouds, hug a tree (seriously!) – I truly recommend going on a little walk, even close to home, find a tree that needs a hug and simply spread your arms around it, feel the roughness of the trunk, notice its stability (and perhaps sway in the breeze), look up, notice the treetop (is it in foliage or green and swaying gently?) and simply surrender to this embrace-connection.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has prepared humorous guidelines for this worthy endeavor!

Wishing everyone a chance to go out into the blossoming flower-dotted nature that surrounds us. May we know how to enjoy all the renewal, change and movement that this season brings. To extend our roots and simply “be….”

A happy Tu B’Shvat to all,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Our boxes are muddy and wet these days, thanks to the rainy days in our field. Sorry about the excess mud…

We packed the wet greens without plastic wrap. Once they reach your kitchen, please dry them and store them in either a plastic/glass container or seal them in plastic wrap.

You are welcome to check out the handy Chubeza Guide to Storing Vegetables on our website.

Monday: Potatoes, daikon/ fennel/turnips, cauliflower/broccoli, Swiss chard/spinach/ tatsoi/ broccoli greens, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/peas, bunch of fresh onions, bell peppers/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/baby greens (mesclun)/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/beets, parsley/coriander, celery/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Red or green apples, avocado, clementinas, oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, bananas.

Wednesday: Potatoes, daikon/fennel/turnips, cauliflower/broccoli/kohlrabi, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/peas, bunch of fresh onions, bell peppers/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/baby greens (mesclun)/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Beets, parsley/coriander, celery/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Red or green apples, avocado, clementinas, oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, bananas.

January 25th-27th 2021 – Every hand will plant, and every heart exalt: Tu B’Shvat

Sweet treats: New cookies from Dani and Galit! Yummy chocolate chip spelt cookies, and apple strudel spelt cookies. Vegan, no artificial sweeteners. Bon appetite!

Add to your boxes via our order system.

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A Poem for Tu B’Shvat/Leah Goldberg

Morning light dances on the wall of our room
Telling us the almond is in full bloom;
The white twig taps on the windowpane:
‘Don’t fall asleep, there’s so much to gain’.
Head out to the grove -the tree is adorned
Like a girl in her best attire worn
And every flower blossomed and sprout did sprout
It’s Tu B’Shvat, Tu B’Shvat, Tu B’Shvat!
Green soil, fragrant and lush and clear
Carries the blessing of a new year –
The labor was not in vain, to the gardener’s delight
On every mound the trees stand upright
And the sun rejoices at the branches so green
Promising the wilderness: here forests will seen.
Every hand will plant, and every heart exalt
Tu B’Shvat, Tu B’Shvat, Tu B’Shvat!

 Raz, very loose translation

This year, I feel happier than ever about the renewal of nature. The regular pace of the seasons is a reminder that despite the chaos in the world of human beings (due to that silly Covid virus, but not entirely…), nature continues its normal routine of winter-spring-summer-autumn. Enveloped in this routine is the true hope that the chaos and instability will cease, and human beings, too, will regain equilibrium, growth and renewal.

Tu B’Shvat is a very Israeli/Mid-Eastern celebration, in the sense that nature begins to awaken during the month of Shvat. This beautiful holiday is very local and intertwined with the climate of Israel, and the warmth we already feel in the air. Ask the Europeans who are shivering from the cold or the North Americans attempting in vain to defrost their frozen hands. Even the Mexicans, whose weather forecast varies from “hot” to “very hot” all year long, or the Thais, who move from extreme “wet” to “dry” will not understand my girls’ glee as they discover another almond tree in bloom along our route to school. This is definitely a local Israeli celebration, observed only in the beloved and thin slice of country between sea, mountain and desert.

This awakening of nature and the sweet promise instilled within it, along with the abundance and fear that the promise may remain unfulfilled, made Tu B’Shvat a day of special liturgical poems and prayers. These mark the joy of giving thanks for nature’s abundance which the Lord bestows, celebrated in a tasty banquet of local fruit and its natural juices and sweet delicacies.

There is something magical about eating fruit to celebrate the tree from which it grows. Biting into a luscious fruit is tasting the sweet, thirst-quenching present, but also sensing the traces of its past: the rain and sun that caressed the tree, watered its roots and made the buds peek from the branches; the wildlife which brushed against its trunk and climbed upon it; the birds who built nests among its branches, the bees merrily buzzing, the flies and other pollinators who hovered over its blooms, transferring pollen from flower to flower, and the ripening – that magical moment when the pollination fertilizes and a new little fetus of a fruit is created. And in the midst of all this sweetness and juice is the seed, the hard, serious heart of the light-headed, seductive fruit, in which the future lies: the next tree, its branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, the sun, winter, rain; the hammock that will be hung from its boughs, the treehouse to be built at its crown, and of course, the joyful band of wildlife that will surround it.

This year more than ever, it’s worthwhile to banish sarcasm and hang-ups: once you’ve feasted on the fruit of the land, go out and thank the trees for their bounty. This was a year of no embracing. Grandma and grandpa had to refrain from hugging the grandkids, who in return took care of grandma and grandpa with heartfelt concern, but only from afar. We learned how to connect via a light brush of the elbow and give virtual hugs, and we all anxiously await the day we can yet again embrace our loved ones. In my imagination, it will be an endless embrace that will be plenty hard to pull away from. But luckily, we can still hug a tree. Yes, I am dead serious.

So, in honor of Tu B’Shvat, I recommend you take a stroll – even if it’s within one kilometer of your home, and find a tree that needs a hug. Simply wrap your arms around it, feel the coarseness of the trunk, the stability (and perhaps its light sway in the breeze), stare at its treetop above (is it exfoliating? Or green and swaying gently?) and simply surrender to this fast embrace. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority have prepared a humorous instruction video to assist you. (if you cannot see it, this is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI0xYZ4o1as)

Enjoy your jaunt into the blooming green of nature, dotted with a colorful parade of flowers. Happy Tu B’Shvat!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

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Monday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/totsoi, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, turnips/beets, cauliflower/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel/potatoes, broccoli/Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, onions/leeks. Small boxes only: Parsley root

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac, daikon/baby radishes, green fava beans/snow peas or garden peas, parsley/coriander/dill.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, clementinas, oranges/pomelit, red apples, avocados.

Wednesday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/totsoi, lettuce/mizuna, broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel/potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes/green fava beans/snow peas or garden peas, carrots, onions, celery/celeriac. Small boxes only: Parsley root

Large box, in addition: Daikon/baby radishes/turnips, beets, leeks, parsley/coriander/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, clementinas, oranges/pomelit, red apples, avocados.

February 10th-12th 2020 – Happy Tu B’Shvat!

 Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

This classic poem seems ideal for this year’s Tu B’Shvat holiday, at the height of a bitter cold storm. We too would like to live intimately with rain, as the more sensitive veggies (especially the leafy greens) are covered in cloth sheets, with some planted in the net house or plastic tunnels that protect them from hail. But we are definitely trembling, not only from cold but also from the threat of being hit by frost. Keep your fingers crossed for us! Full report to follow when we reach the other end of the storm.

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the New Year of the Trees, began in Talmudic days as a bureaucratic-appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to determine the point from when the year is counted. Ultimately the 15th of Shvat was granted the honor of being the definitive date.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches flow and beat with the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. The other meaning of Shvat is the delicate facet of the word, that of a branch beginning its growth anew. According to tradition, the Biblical flood ended in Shvat, and the dove dispatched by Noah brought back a young olive branch, taut and fresh from a newly-blossoming tree. Yet amidst this chaos, the tree branches begin their growth cycle: thanks to the rains that have fallen and the days growing longer, the branches develop buds and begin to bloom and sprout new leaves in preparation for fruit.

Here at Chubeza we hardly grow any trees, but we sure as heck grow fruit. The daily work in the field allows us to closely examine the full circle of nature, from sprouting seeds to growth and ripening. It’s fun to look at the various shapes of blossoming and pollination in plants, from the male and female flowers of the Cucurbits to the wind that fertilizes the corn flowers, the tiny pea pods hiding within the butterfly-shaped flowers, and the bumblebees working diligently to fertilize the tomatoes in the growth houses…. So yes, we are a vegetable garden, but if we have blossoming and fertilizing that create a fruit full of seeds, what exactly are we growing here? Fruits or vegetables? Perhaps this question does not seem too important if in the long run the product is juicy and yummy, but you’d be surprised to hear that even the Supreme Court deliberated over this issue.

Literally, the word fruit is used to indicate various types of yield: “fruit of the womb” is a child, “fruit of your labor” is the outcome of hard work and “to bear fruit” is to yield desired results. But the botanical interpretation is unequivocal: fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

As this image indicates, a tomato is definitely a fruit. So are cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins and avocados, if we go by the botanical description. Add peas in the pod (though the peas themselves are the seeds) and even kernels of corn!

However, strawberries and figs are not fruit in botanical terms. The strawberry’s red skin is a swelled receptacle of the flower and its fruit are the nutlets – those tiny dots that cover the surface of the strawberry. The fig has a similar story: it is a closed meaty inflorescence containing lots of little flowers. The actual fruit is the tiny cress in the edible part.

“Vegetable” has no botanical definition. It is a culinary classification for the edible part of the plant. This includes roots (like carrots and beets), greens (like cabbage, Swiss chard or kale), stems (like potatoes, fennel or kohlrabi), flower buds (like cauliflower and broccoli), seeds (corn and peas), and of course actual fruit like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins eggplant, etc, which are fruit despite being considered vegetables in the culinary sense.

Now, to the legal matter: In 1887, the tomato was brought before the Supreme Court in order to determine whether it is a fruit or vegetable. If the court ruled fruit, then the tomato should be exempt from the required tax on imported vegetables, but not fruits.

Witnesses and specialists were summoned before the Court, which had to admit that tomatoes were indeed fruit… but also vegetables…  The Court ultimately ruled that although “botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squash, beans, and peas. . . . In the common language of the people . . . all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” Thus, the Court concluded, a tomato is a vegetable.

Tu B’Shvat does not get caught up in these nuances. Without slighting the vegetables that are annual fruits, it celebrates the fruit of trees, the perennials  soon to grow on the trees standing in place with their gnarled-sometimes-scarred trunks, through rain, wind and sun, year after year, teaching us that one can indeed bloom after challenging times and continue to bear fruit.

This year, too, we remind ourselves that though it is definitely cold, we are not back in the European Diaspora. Here we bask in a wealth of fresh, locally grown fruit on the shelves which is why it is ridiculous to eat the imported dry fruits to mark this very Israeli holiday. The author of Hemdat Yamim invented the custom to “eat many fruits on the eve of this day and sing its praises…” Let us fulfill this blessing with sweet happiness as we sit round a table abounding with sweet, succulent fruit from the Land of Israel.

Wishing you all a Chag Sameach and a special call-out for those fruit trees among us,

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac, carrots, parsley/coriander/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower. Small boxes only: Daikon/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Beets, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, peas/green fava beans.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, bananas, pomelit, avocado. 

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, carrots, mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower/cabbage/potatoes, peas/green fava beans, daikon/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Beets/Jerusalem artichokes, parsley/coriander, scallions/onions/leeks. A special gift: a bag of small broccoli florets.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot / oranges, bananas, pomelit, avocado. 

January 21st-23rd 2019 – Happy TuBishvat

In Honor of Tu B’Shvat, we have a joyous offers for you:

Melissa of Mipri Yadeha also announces a sweet and celebratory sale: order 2 dry fruits or one fruit “leather” and receive a complimentary sampler of mixed fruit (one per client – stock permitting).

Order via our order system.

Chag Sameach!

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May this day not perish from our tongue/ Rabbi Moshe Chalua

May this day not perish from our tongue in song and melody
Tu B’Shvat, a day of greatness for each plant and tree
I shall choose a fruit of the Land and fervently pray
The Lord save it from strife and enmity
Satiate the world with glory, fill it with your righteousness
And we shall quench our hunger with sweet fruit of the Land
This year you will eat, drink, and be of joy
And I shall hide in the shadow of your wings in peaceful repose
wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives and pomegranates
of beauty and freshness to compose

This year we were able to celebrate Tu B’Shvat during a sunny week following the blessed showers – a two-week dry break from the rain, keeping us sun-washed and warm. Perfect timing! This lull allows the soil to absorb some warmth as the water permeates deep down slowly but surely, and lets the gigantic water-and-mud puddles in our field dry up. The earth regains its ventilation after a spate of sticky mud, saturated with water and blocking the air.

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the New Year of the Trees, began in Talmudic days as a bureaucratic-appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to determine the point from when the year is counted. Ultimately the 15th of Shvat was granted the honor of being the definitive date. But this explanation is rather impersonal and totally misses out on the connection, reliance and reflection between man and nature, specifically the trees.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches dance and beat with the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. The other meaning of Shvat is the delicate facet of the word, that of a branch beginning its growth anew. According to tradition, the Biblical flood ended in Shvat, and the dove dispatched by Noah brought back a young olive branch, taut and fresh from a newly-blossoming tree. Yet amidst this chaos, the tree branches begin their growth cycle: Thanks to the rains that have fallen and the days growing longer, the branches develop buds and begin to bloom and sprout new leaves in preparation for fruit.

And how is fruit born? Just like a baby.

Every fruit develops from a flower (usually following pollination). After pollination, the flower changes: its petals, stamen and calyx wilt, and the fertilized cells divide and grow into the embryo – the seed. The embryo cells divide into tissue and organs of the seed (the radicle and plumule surrounding the endosperm – a food-hoarding tissue). In Hebrew, the first stage in the ripening of the fruit has a specific name: חנטה. When it begins, water and nutrients start arriving to the cells, and they rapidly divide and grow. The ovary grows, its walls thicken and the stem surrounding it becomes juicy and grows as the seeds develop within it. Usually you can see the remains of the sepals of the dried-up flower at the top of the fruit. This stage is extremely sensitive to weather change, strong winds and rain, causing many tiny fruits to fall from the vine.

At the end of this stage, the fruit begins to ripen, and changes appear in its size, shape, scent, color, flavor, texture and softness. The fruit is the organ which contains the seeds, wrapping them in a juicy layer and peel. Fruit has pivotal significance to the continuation of the plant, as here is where the plant’s “embryo” lies, protecting it and assisting it to spread the seed and become absorbed in the earth.

This awakening in nature and the sweet promise it proclaims, together with the concern for actual fulfillment of this promise, made Tu B’Shvat a day to sing about, offer special prayers and celebrate God’s abundance by rejoicing in nature. And of course, celebrations call for food, and what better meal than one consisting of fruits of the earth, its most natural confectionary?

There is something magical about eating fruit to celebrate the tree from which it grows. Biting into a luscious fruit is tasting the sweet, thirst-quenching present, but also sensing the traces of its past: the rain and sun that caressed the tree, watered its roots and made the buds peek from the branches; the wildlife which brushed against its trunk and climbed it; the birds who built nests among its branches, the bees merrily buzzing, the flies and other pollinators who hovered over its blooms, transferring pollen from flower to flower, and the ripening – that magical moment when the pollination fertilizes and a new little fetus of a fruit is created. And in the midst of all this sweetness and juice is the seed, the hard, serious heart of the light-headed, seductive fruit, in which the future lies: the next tree, its branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, the sun, winter, rain; the hammock that will be hung from its boughs, the treehouse to be built at its crown, and of course, the joyful band of wildlife that will surround it.

This is also the month of foaling amongst the goats and flocks of sheep. Now of all times, when it’s still so cold outside, the baby lambs and kids (goats) are being born, because the world around them is bursting with greenery to eat. One look at the Chubeza beds illustrates this green outburst (and with it the constant need to weed…), streaked by wild grass that can make do with the little rain it’s gotten so far.

This beautiful holiday is very local and dependent on the climate of this country, and the warmth we already feel in the air. Ask the Europeans who are shivering from the cold or the North Americans attempting in vain to defrost their frozen hands in the warm glow of a frigid Valentine’s Day. Even the Mexicans, whose weather forecast varies from “hot” to “very hot” all year long, or the Thais, who move from extreme “wet” to “dry” will not understand my girls’ glee as they discover another almond tree in bloom along our route to school. This is definitely a local Israeli celebration, observed only in the beloved and thin slice of country between sea, mountain and desert.

 

In the 1880’s, with the renewal of the Jewish settlement in Israel, the need arose to find new agenda for this day, perhaps to proclaim: Now that we’re here, it is not enough to eat from the fruits of the land left to us by our forefathers/mothers (and Arab falachim), it’s time to plant new fruits. On Tu B’Shvat 1890, teacher and writer Ze’ev Yavetz led his students from the school in Zichron Ya’akov to a festive tree planting, and thus dictated the new character of Tu B’Shvat: a holiday of planting, not merely Rosh HaShana of the Trees. In 1908, the Teachers’ Union formally proclaimed Tu B’Shvat to be the holiday of planting. Later, the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) adopted this date, and thus, Tu B’Shvat is officially a day of planting.

However, over the years things have become somewhat shriveled, and a cynical note has begun to creep into the holiday mood. Often the festive planting does not result in a forest, but rather in new plantings, same place, one year later. Azaria Alon writes, “Looking back, we can only blame ourselves, the Keren Kayemet and the Teachers’ Union, for the fact that Tu B’Shvat is not a holiday for nature but a holiday of planting. Let’s search the songs and ads for a word about what will happen to the plant after it is planted, about our commitment to the tree after we leave the planting site.” (Remember Salach Shabati?)

And so, when new content for the holiday was required, Avraham Bumi Toren, a pioneer SPNI activist of Kibbutz Maa’barot, suggested that Tu B’Shvat become the holiday of nature, and the SPNI declared it so. Thus this day, which was already viewed by our forefathers and mothers as the harbinger of the transition from winter to renewed growth, is now expressed in nature as the start of major blooming, budding, the blossoming of the almond tree, the awakening of various birds for nesting and reproduction, and other phenomena. Going out into nature to view its world has become the new content of the holiday. Another facet of this holiday originated with the popular campaign of the 70’s to save the wildflowers of Israel, stressing the rule not to harm, pick, or uproot the rare wildflowers.

Over the past few years, perhaps because we are gradually disconnecting from nature, paving paradise and putting up parking lots, Tu B’Shvat has become the holiday for the environment, in a general sort of way, and specifically in matters of recycling and educating about damage control. Not that this isn’t good–it’s creative and interesting and beneficial. But I feel a little ache in my heart as we drift farther away from my childhood memories of walking in my boots and coat to the planting site, digging my fingers into the freezing earth, taking the plant out of its black plastic jacket and placing it gently into the hole my father dug with a great big shovel. True, it is important to continue to treat this tree, to care for it and cultivate it, but it is too bad that people are fearful of this commitment, because we are losing a lot. Losing the sensual experience that accompanies planting and touching the earth, as well as the life it grants us, ingrained within the plant.

Wishing you a week of finding the time to enjoy the outdoors in its beautiful blooming green stretches dotted with flowers. Maybe you’ll even add your own plant. Chag Sameach!

 

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Scallions/onions, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage, turnips/ beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/mizuna, potatoes, fava beans/snow peas or garden peas/Jerusalem artichoke.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/parsley root, fennel/daikon/radishes, coriander/ parsley.

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, avocado, clementinas, pomelit, oranges.

Wednesday: Scallions/onions, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, turnips/beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/mizuna, potatoes, snow peas or garden peas/Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac/parsley root.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/daikon/radishes, parsley, red bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, avocado, lemons, pomelit, oranges.

Aley Chubeza #277, January 25th-27th 2016

Many thanks to all who responded, supported and smiled through email, text messages and conversations regarding the Chubeza price rise. In conclusion, these are the projected prices beginning February:

Small vegetable box – 90 NIS
Large vegetable box – 115 NIS
Small fruit box – 60 NIS
Large fruit box – 90 NIS
Family Fruit box remains 140 NIS
Delivery fees remain unchanged.

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In honor of the great winter approaching us, we have new products and new sales for old products that will make you happy and warm you up over the freezing days ahead:

shoreshei zionEliezer of Sihorshei Tzion has informed us of a new, delectable product: Raw Sprouted Nuts, Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashew in packages of 100/350 gram.

This healthy snack can be eaten raw as a healthy delicious snack, to garnish vegetable or fruit salads, add to granola, desserts, or as a raw ingredient in any recipe!

The Process

We begin soaking the nuts in filtered water for 12-24 hours. This awakens the nut and begins the sprouting process. The nuts are then rinsed and dried at a low temperature (below 46c) for 24 – 36 hours giving them a delicious crisp and crunchy flavor and enhancing their nutritional value

Why Sprouted?

The sprouting process activates enzymes and neutralizes harsh acids found in all nuts, seeds, and grains. This process aids digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Sprouting can also reduce up to 50% fat and 25% calories and increase protein up to 30% in food.

Why Raw Food?

Food heated over 115 F is diminished of its enzymes and nutrients. Eating raw food allows for easy digestion and absorption of nutrients, and contributes strength & energy to the entire body.

Raw Sprouted Nuts and all other unique products of Shorshei Tzion can be ordered via our order system.

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levhateva3Lev Ha’Aretz

We have been working with Assaf and Zohar from Lev Ha’aretz for some time now. Their story is very appropriate for wintery weather… When the small food company where they were both employed was suddenly sold to one of the bigger companies in Israel, they decided that in order to fulfill a dream, one must proceed down even the foggy roads.

They made the decision to create high-quality, tasty and healthy products, as well as providing work for residents of the north, and then set out to raise funds. With great efforts, assisted by family and friends, they finally established a small cracker factory, which began as a fulfillment of a dream and is marching on, an accomplishment not to be taken for granted these days, all due to the great dedication and responsibility of Assaf, Zohar and their crew. Today, the factory produces a variety of excellent crackers for the local market, and recently they have begun exporting as well. All the while, they keep getting better and more creative, all because of their persistence (and the fact that they are good people).

Zohar and Assaf’s crackers are made out of simple, healthy and basic components: flour, grains and seeds, with no sugar or other preservatives. Lev Hateva offers crackers in three different flavors: wheat, rye and spelt. Besides their great health value and excellent flavor, I believe that the fact they are made in a northern factory is of great significance. The factory employs local residents, including  youth and challenged individuals, helping them make a step towards integrating into the employment market.

Over the coming month Lev Hateva is offering a special price for their excellent crackers: one package for 17 NIS, two for 22 NIS.

If you haven’t experienced them yet, I encourage you to sample the crackers and fall in love. Those of you who already are hooked – here is your chance to spoil yourselves with the greatest crackers for an excellent price.

Orders via our order system.

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Believing I am an oak in a rock,
Even if a storm hits me, I will overcome it.
When I shed tears, I sow.
Sorrow is the soul,
I am nature.
 
Believing in mankind the heavens,
And the tree and sea,
I will be.
As long as I am, I will remember the thought
That happiness is mankind,
And touch it I ought.
 
(An Oak in the Rock, Avishai Cohen)

This beautiful poem came to my mind at this time of year, Tu B’Shvat, at the peak of the storm and cold weather. We, too, hope and wish to overcome the upcoming storm. We’ve covered our more sensitive vegetables with cloth sheets, and some of them are planted in the net house or hiding under the plastic tunnels protecting them from hail, but we’re definitely fearful of the upcoming frost. Keep your fingers crossed for us! And stay tuned for our  report next week!

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the birthday of the trees, began as a bureaucratic appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to decide from when the year is counted, and the 15th of Shvat was given the honor of being the definitive date. But this explanation is rather impersonal and totally misses out on the connection, reliance and reflection between man and nature, specifically the trees.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches dance and beat at the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. Yet amidst this chaos, they begin lengthening, adding young green and delicate branches, the buds swell and new leaves and flowers grow and bloom, in preparation for fruit.

And how is fruit born? Just like a baby.

Every fruit develops from a flower (usually following pollination). After pollination, the flower changes: its petals, stamen and calyx wilt, and the fertilized cells divide and grow into the embryo – the seed. The embryo cells divide into tissue and organs of the seed (the radicle and plumule surrounding the endosperm – a food-hoarding tissue). In Hebrew, the first stage in the ripening of the fruit has a specific name: חנטה. When it begins, water and nutrients start arriving to the cells, and they rapidly divide and grow. The ovary grows, its walls thicken and the stem surrounding it becomes juicy and grows as the seeds develop within it. Usually you can see the remains of the sepals of the dried-up flower at the top of the fruit. This stage is extremely sensitive to weather change, strong winds and rain, as many tiny fruits can fall off the plant as a result.

When this stage ends, the fruit begins to ripen, and changes appear in its size, shape, scent, color, flavor, texture and softness. The fruit is the organ which contains the seeds, wrapping them in a juicy layer and peel. The fruit has a huge significance to the continuation of the plant, as here is where the plant’s “embryo” lies, protecting it and assisting it to spread the seed and become absorbed in the earth.

The sages of the Mishna declared the middle of the Shvat to mark the initiation of the tithe-giving year. Observing Nature closely, they came to realize that by Shvat, a large quantity of rain has fallen and as the days grow longer and spring approaches, the trees begin to mature חנטה and the fertilized flowers start turning into fruits. This awakening in Nature and the sweet promise it holds, coupled with fear and anxiety as to the fulfillment of this promise, turned Tu B’Shvat into a day of liturgy, special prayers and the celebration of the Lord’s abundance through nature, in a festive meal of local fruit, its juices and natural delicacies.

I love that poem by Avishai Cohen because it so beautifully expresses the tree’s utter existence, the security and the calm of its stability, rooted (but not stuck…), accepting, embodying contradiction, existing. This Tu B’Shvat, may we be blessed to enjoy renewal, change and the movement of this season: to open our eyes, take in the scents, listen to the rustling, and at the same time know how to simply extend our roots and branches and live.

Wishing us all a happy Tu B’Shvat, and the ability to weather any storm, any time!

Sending you much warmth,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S RAINY TU B’SHVAT BOXES?

Monday: Broccoli, coriander/parsley/mint, tomatoes, lettuce, kale/spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers, beets/cabbage, leeks/onions, potatoes/ sweet red peppers, celery/celeriac. Small boxes only: radishes/ baby radishes/turnips.

Large box, in addition: Fennel, baby greens (mesclun mix)/mustard greens, cauliflower, snow peas/carrots.

Wednesday: onions/leek, cucumbers, cilantro/parsley/mint, Swiss chard/kale/Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, potatoes, celery/celeriac, small boxes: beets/fennel/radish/turnip.

Large box, in addition: baby greens (mesclun mix), spinach/New Zealand spinach, fava beans/snow peas/peppers, beets.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!