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In 2013, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) published a survey of mature trees in Jerusalem that was “the most comprehensive of the recent SPNI surveys, including some 4,000 trees,” according to the society’s marketing and communications coordinator, Danielle Berkowitz. Many of the trees identified through such surveys have rich histories and stories attached to them. In fact, hundreds of trees throughout the Jewish state illuminate fascinating aspects of Israeli history and culture. provides a sampling.

Winter fruit might seem less spectacular than the much more time-valued offerings of summer, but oranges and pears in particular, while quiet and “common,” can be the unexpected stars of simple savory dishes. This is perfect for Tu B’Shevat, writes bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen. Sparkle up your Tu B’Shevat seder with an easy but surprising sweet potato-pear soup, which goes perfectly with a winter salad featuring crunchy, colorful leaves refreshingly coated with orange sections and a yogurty-orange vinaigrette, and exuberantly dotted with pistachios (also from trees). Finish the meal with an old-fashioned cake brimming with apples and walnuts, and studded with cranberries.

Why is the holiday of Tu B'Shevat uniquely Israeli, and how is it celebrated there? Israel is the only country in the world that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with. In just six decades, Israelis have literally sunk down roots.

Often deemed controversial for its origins within the mysticism of Kabbalah, the Tu B'Shevat seder celebrates Israel's Arbor Day by the honoring the Earth and Jewish spiritual connections to nature. Rabbi/entrepreneur Jason Miller and leaders from the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life describe the importance of coupling the traditional seder format with environmental activism that the whole family can partake in.