Its been a busy couple of weeks with no time for posting because my (Sarah’s) family came from the US for a big family reunion. Mom & Dad (aka Bubbie & Zaidey) came from Dallas, Aunt Roz came from Madison, and Esther & Ari & Sophie & Nat came from Baltimore.

My guided tour of Haifa included taking my parents & aunt to the scenic overlook at Stella Maris, down the mountain in a cable car to Elijah's cave, a walk on the Bat Galim promenade on the sea, and a quick visit to the Baha'i gardens. I wore them out good.

sisters aboard the cable car

at the Baha'i gardens

We kicked off our whirlwind with a grandparents (and great-aunt)-only Tu B’Shvat seder at Noah’s school. Tu B’Shvat is known as the “birthday of the trees” or Rosh Hashana La’Ilanot (New Year of the trees) because this is the time of year when the earliest flowering trees begin to bloom. The seder is a special meal usually associated with Passover, but which also has become a modern addition to celebrating the holiday. The children sang songs, said blessings over the wine and fruit, and Bubbie was invited to do a reading – very brave of her to read Hebrew in front of a classroom of native speakers & all of their grandparents!

Just like at Channukah, the kids learned and performed so many more Tu B’Shvat songs than we ever learned in America. Can you spot Bubbie at 1:44?

Tu B’Shvat is not one of the major Jewish holidays, but it is one of the most fun because of the traditions to plant trees and eat dried fruits and nuts native to Israel (dates, carob, figs, raisins, almonds, etc.). The holiday is a good opportunity to speak about nature and taking care of the environment, so it has some very nice lessons to go along with the good food. Each child in Noah’s class brought home a potted plant that they had planted themselves in a container that they had decorated.