PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) hosted the Jewish New Year of the Trees, or Tu B’Shvat, service on Feb. 10. Tu B’Shvat is considered a festival of nature, full of wonder, joy and thankfulness for creation in anticipation of the renewal of the natural world. During this holiday, Jews recollect the sacred obligation to care for the world, and the responsibility to share the fruits of the earth.
“We want to be able to appreciate this nature; this world that we were created in.” said Lt. Yonatan Warren, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training resident chaplain for Pastoral Care Services.
Tu B'Shvat is a translation of 'the fifteenth of Shvat', the Hebrew date identified as the new year for trees. Tu B'Shvat was counted as the birthday for all trees for tithing purposes, like the beginning of a fiscal year. It gradually gained religious significance, with a Kabbalistic fruit-eating ceremony called the Feast of Fruits, much like the Passover Seder, being introduced during the 1600s. Participants read selections from the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic literature, and ate fruits and nuts traditionally associated with the land of Israel.
“As the Jewish understand it, it all started in a garden,” Warren said. “This idea started with Jewish mysticism, to be able to bring us back into that heavenly paradise and become one with nature.”
The Seder ceremony included eating fruit, particularly the kinds associated with Israel. The Torah praises seven 'fruits' in particular: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. During the ceremony there was a hand washing ritual as well as a ceremonial red and white wine drinking. A short blessing is recited after the washing of the hands, the eating of each fruit and the drinking of the wine.
“The Jewish New Year of the Trees is about appreciation and the natural changes of the year.” Warren said.
As the U. S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state of the art medical center, including its ten branch and TRICARE Prime clinics, serves the Hampton Roads area and additionally offers premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.
For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.