Tu B’Shvat in the Garden

Mandarin citrus (Photo by Debbie Togliatti)
Mandarin citrus (Photo by Debbie Togliatti)

Tu B’Shvat, commonly referred to as The Birthday of the Trees, is celebrated on the 15th day in the Hebrew calendar of Shevat. This is a time for honoring trees, enjoying the fruits of Winter and planting for the upcoming Spring season.

Here at the OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool, children often visit our orchards, observing the differences between our Evergreen trees (lemons, clementines and olives) and the trees that have lost their leaves and are resting in winter: pomegranates, figs, apricots and plums. These are called Deciduous trees. The children will keep their eyes out when the first of the leaves and blossoms emerge in spring.

Children participate in a variety of Tu B’Shvat activities at the preschool. From trying different citrus fruits, to making fresh squeezed orange juice, to planting seeds, tree branch weaving, painting with small branches, making a large branch mobile and writing “Happy Birthday” wishes to hang on our orchard trees, the children are very much engaged in the study of trees. Some of the older classes talk at length about why trees are important and what can we do to help trees, making them Shomrei Adamah, guardians of the earth.

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Debbie Togliatti

Written by Debbie Togliatti

Debbie Togliatti has been a preschool teacher at the OFJCC for 36 years. A former classroom teacher, Debbie left the confines of the classroom to become the Garden Pedagogista. All children, from 18 months to 5 years old, get to experience the wonders of the garden with Debbie’s guidance. She serves as a caretaker on a small farm in Los Altos Hills with 16 chickens, two goats and one rabbit and organically grows fruits and vegetables. In 2013, Debbie self-published her book, Growing Jewish Values: Cultivating Your Jewish Roots in Your Own Backyard.

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