On Wednesday, January 31, Ben Porat Yosef students enjoyed a meaningful celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the time when trees in Israel begin their next fruit-bearing cycle. The day focused on providing students with hands-on experiences. BPY staff created a variety of educational stations about the sheva minim (seven spices, or fruits and grains native to the land of Israel) to teach students the lessons of Tu B’Shevat, including an appreciation for the bounty of Israel and for the beauty of Hashem’s world. The stations included one about rimonim, pomegranates, which have numerous seeds symbolizing the 613 mitzvot, of which chesed is a great focus. Students learned about this symbolism and then prepared food packages for the elderly in a chesed activity enhanced by their deeper understanding of how this mitzvah relates to the day. Another station featured zaytim, olives, which symbolize peace, and where students learned about the defenders of the Jewish faith and homeland from ancient times (the Maccabim) through modern times (soldiers in the IDF who defend the modern state of Israel). Students actually “plowed” fields and harvested wheat, crushed grapes to make yayin (wine, or grape juice), and planted “grassheads” to learn how grass grows and how to experiment with it at home.
The early childhood students also experienced Tu B’Shevat through a variety of art experiences, music and movement, cooking and baking, and interactive classroom seders. They also became robots and programmers in a special Tu B’Shevat activity. The student programmers guided the “robots” to bring different fruits to the tree, using direction cards and no small amount of enthusiasm to successfully deliver all the fruit.