Chamisha Asar (“Tu”) b’Shvat plans

treestick 001For some reason, Israelis are more likely to call this Tu b’Shvat… the yeshiva world seems to prefer the name “chamisha asar b’Shvat.”  No clue why.

It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I just stumbled across this terrific “Seven Species” video excerpt, which shows kids interacting with the shivas haminim, the seven special species that grow in eretz Yisrael.  The accompanying song is sweet – and a little chassidish – without being utterly cloying.

imageWe have been singing the “Shkeydiya Porachat” song for years (anything on an Uncle Moishy album, I can sing, too!), but this year is FINALLY the one I  got my act together to learn the words to the classic Israeli Tu b’Shvat song “Kach Holchim Hashotlim.”  Yup, all three verses.  Don’t know if I’ll have it memorized, but I don’t trip over it as much.

(you can hear Cindy Paley sing it on this album, or find several classic folk versions – if classic Israeli folk is your thing – at this site, which requires membership)

Anyway, one evening last week, I sat with Elisheva peering over my shoulder and we worked out a singable translation which I’m quite proud of.  Cindy Paley has one that is simpler, but I think ours preserves the meaning and the rhyme scheme of the original… so there.

Naomi loves when I sing Hebrew songs in English, and I think I’m getting better at creating meaningful translations.  Though sometimes, it gets a little silly.  I am not really an “O” type of person in real life.  O really, I’m not!

Kach Holchim Hashotlim

Here they come, o planters here!
Song in heart and spade in hand
From the towns across the land
From the valley, from the stand
On Tu Bishvat, on Tu Bishvat.

What brings you, o planters, here?
Dig the soil and harvest found
Dig the marshes all around
From the mountains to the ground
On Tu Bishvat, on Tu Bishvat.

What comes here, o planters, near?
Set a seedling in each space
Let it spread its shady face
And our sorrows all erase
On Tu Bishvat, on Tu Bishvat.

What inspired this is that my sister just called and asked what we’re doing for tu b’shvat, which is on Shabbos.  Not much, not much at all.  The kids gathered a stick from Cedarvale, I stuck it in a blob of air-hardening clay, and we are sporadically gluing green tissue-paper  leaves to it when the inclination strikes. 

Hopefully, we’ll have added a few more, plus some pink “almond blossoms” so it looks less mangy (see top of post) in time for Shabbos.  I don’t mean to put this activity down, by the way… it’s super-easy, with fairly rewarding results, if only because of the size of the branch.  Cheap and easy, using natural materials:  my favourite criteria for a craft!

Hey!  I just started wondering if it might be possible to force a willow or forsythia in time for tu b’shvat?  No reason why not, as far as I can tell.  It is too late for this year, but that might make a great “science” project next year, to demonstrate that the trees are not really dead, just sleeping ‘till winter’s over.

Anyway, I was thinking of doing some more tu b’shvat stuff for our Shabbos Circle Party this week… but it’s also Shabbos Shira, and if we have our act together, I also wanted to decorate tambourines…

Let’s just see how much energy I have to put this all together.  Maybe a song and a tree is enough for this year.


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