On Tuesday, January 18, SFCJL hosted two Facebook Live events to share our campus Tu B’Shvat celebrations with our broader community of family, friends, and supporters. In the Rosenberg Garden, Rabbi Natan Fenner, our partner with the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, presided over the planting and dedication of a nectarine tree, joined by Judith Dancer, Director of Life Enrichment, Jewish Home and Rehab Center, and Rich Ballestros, SFCJL’s landscape gardener. In the Helen Diller Family Foundation Grand Entry Park, Rabbi Fenner was joined by Edwina Tang, Executive Director, Frank Residences, and Fredi Aks, Frank resident, who spoke for the dedication of a fig tree.

This year, Tu B’Shvat coincided with MLK Day. Because Martin Luther King, Jr. planted so many “trees” of justice and equality for the benefit of the generations to come, we planted our trees in his honor.

Keeping in mind the future, we must be excellent stewards of the Earth and strive to build a connection between the land and our everyday lives. We can cultivate an appreciation of the Earth’s resources, to prevent us from taking those resources for granted.

Tu B’Shvat, the birthday or new year of the trees, is a sort of Jewish Arbor Day, a day of environmental awareness where trees are planted in celebration. It is customary to eat fruit, especially the special fruits of the land of Israel, as well as appreciating the environment and the beauty of the natural world. It also reminds us of the Torah’s likening of human beings to a tree.

Planted in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr and the millions who marched to change the world. “Just as they planted trees for us, so we plant trees for others.”

Tu B’shvat, 2022

Beginning with the Garden of Eden, in Jewish thought fruit trees symbolize life, growth and nourishment. Traditionally, the special observance of Tu B’Shvat is a time to celebrate nature. It became a custom to plant trees on Tu B’Shvat with the establishment of the state of Israel. This day marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.


Tu B’Shvat gets its name from the date on which the holiday occurs, the 15th of the month of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar. Scholars believe that originally Tu B’Shvat was an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. The holiday was based on the date chosen as an important date for Jewish farmers in ancient times to calculate their taxes on the produce of their trees for the year. It is often referred to as the new year (or “birthday”) of the trees, or the Jewish “Arbor Day”. It is traditional also to celebrate by eating special foods such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.


Nowadays, Tu B’Shvat is recognized as an environmental holiday. The laws in the Torah instruct people to open their eyes and act responsibly and compassionately toward the world around them. Jews consider this day as a way to remind themselves of their duty to care for the natural world. The holiday also has become a tree-planting festival like this one, in which Jews around the world plant trees in honor of, or in memory of, loved ones and friends.


As we who live in the Frank Residences community watch this newly planted little fig tree grow and maybe even bear fruit, the hope is that it will continue to have meaning as a symbol of our own responsibility to nature and, indeed, to all living things.

―Fredi Aks, Frank Resident

Tu B’Shvat marks the beginning of a new year for trees, when new trees emerge from their winter cycle and begin bearing fruit. The planting of this tree, which will add beauty to our grounds here, will also be a symbol of growth for our community. As we watch it grow and flourish, we will be reminded that as we pass through our days, beauty and the fruits of life are blossoming every day. A constant reminder of our responsibility to take care of our earth and each other.

―Edwina Tang, Executive Director, Frank Residences

Baruch atah A-donoi, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha-aitz.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

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