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Tu B’shvat Marked by State Solons

Spring came early to the New York State Legislature last week, as Assemblymen Howard Lasher (D.Brooklyn) and Sheldon Silver (D. Manhattan) joined Rabbi Israel Rubin, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Capital District, to host a Tu B’Shvat party for legislators and staff held in Lasher’s office in the Legislative Office Building.

Traditional fruits of Israel were served, including carob, apples, figs, dates, nuts and raisins, and the room was decorated with artificial trees. After an accordionist played Jewish music, Rubin explained the significance of the holiday to the group. “When we celebrate a special New Year for trees on the 15th day of the Hebrew, month of Shvat, we’re showing respect not only for trees, but for nature and ecology,” he said.

Silver, who noted that this was the third year in a row that Tu B’Shvat has been celebrated by the legislators, said he felt the holiday gives Jewish legislators an opportunity to acquaint their colleagues with Jewish traditions. For most holidays this is not possible, because work is prohibited or the Legislature is not in session, he said, so Tu B’Shvat is a perfect time to celebrate with non-Jews.

Lasher and Silver are both looking forward to Purim next month, because unlike most years, the holiday will fall on a day when the Legislature is in session. A Megillat Esther reading by Rubin is planned for the legislators to celebrate. The Tu B’Shvat party was held a few days early because the actual date, Feb. 12, Lincoln’s Birthday, is a legal holiday in New York State.

NOTICE: There will be no Daily News Bulletin dated February 19 due to Washington’s Birthday, a postal holiday.

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