Tu B’shevat Marked in New York State Legislature; Fete Also Marks Release of Hostages from Iran

The New York State Legislature marked Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish “New Year of the Trees,” for the fifth consecutive year today at a festive gathering attended by some 40 members of the Assembly and Senate, Jewish and non-Jewish, and more than 100 guests from the local community.

Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (D. Man.), one of the co-hosts, noted that the day had special significance in that it marked a new beginning for the 52 American hostages in Iran who were released and on their way home even as the celebration was in progress.

Other co-hosts were Assemblymen Howard Lasher, and Samuel Hirsch, both Brooklyn Democrats, and Rabbi Israel Rubin, representing the Lubavitcher movement in Albany. Lasher explained that the Tu B’Shevat “celebration has become an annual event of the New York State Legislature because the new legislative session coincides with the beginning of the spring cycle in Israel.

Rubin noted that Tu B’Shevat is foremost a children’s holiday when children in Israel plant trees in the countryside. He likened children to trees, observing that “the earliest impression on a seed or sapling shows up later in big ways, just as the education of a child can greatly influence later life.”

The party, held in Lasher’s office, featured the fruits of trees indigenous to Israel, wine and other refreshment. Ten children of the Maimonides Hebrew Day School of Albany sang Hebrew songs under the direction of Cantor Joel Cutler.

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