JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 200 people attended the first Tu b’Shvat seder at Israel’s Knesset.
Government ministers, Knesset members, and staff and students were among the participants in the seder on Wednesday evening hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Lawmaker Ruth Calderon and Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, conducted the ceremony.
The seder replicated the four cups of wine from the Passover seder and included readings associated with the land and produce in keeping with the holiday, which is called the birthday of the trees.
Edelstein said the holiday in Israel, where even in the winter one can connect to the concept of blossoming trees, is a far cry from the holiday in his native Russia.
“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winters, but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland,” he said.
Edelstein said he hoped the Knesset Tu b’Shvat seder would become an annual tradition.
Stav called Tu b’Shvat a holiday of belief.
“The truth is that even here in Israel, where the weather is relatively warm, we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom,” he said. “But the lesson is that we believe that the good times of produce and success are just ahead and that is a message of faith that has meaning far beyond just this holiday.”