Pro­duc­ing con­tent on the Web since 1995.

some say­ings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and strug­gled with mas­ter­ing virtuous. Now, in addi­tion, I’m work­ing on becom­ing more virtual.
This is an expres­sion of that effort.
* * * * * * *

השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…

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All pho­tographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obvi­ously not (or credit oth­er­wise is given).

The pho­tos in the ban­ner at the top (only a shal­low sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our trav­els and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: “Where was that?”).

jewish environmentalism and tu b'sh'vat

a thought regard­ing the his­tory of Jew­ish environmentalism

In Jan­u­ary of 1970 I needed to make (what for me then was) a sig­nif­i­cant per­sonal deci­sion. I was born on Jan­u­ary 22 on the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar. How­ever, the year I was born, that date cor­re­sponded with Rosh Jodesh Sh’vat. I noticed then, that in 1970 Jan­u­ary 22 would coin­cide with Tu b’Sh’vat. I had become more deeply aware of how the Jew­ish luni/solar cal­en­dar func­tioned and wanted to observe my birthday’s anniver­sary (by thank­ing my mother on her birthing-date). I needed to choose between two sig­nif­i­cant dates: Gre­go­rian = Tu b’Sh’vat or Jew­ish = Rosh Jodesh Sh’vat. The bit that clinched my deci­sion was when I learned that my brother, who had been born four years later (and two weeks ear­lier accord­ing to the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar) shared the same birth date on the Jew­ish cal­en­dar. Ever since then, when some­one who is not an offi­cial of some kind asks when I was born, I tell them Rosh Jodesh Sh’vat.

brothers & mother

broth­ers and mother, approx­i­mately 6 months before Jan­u­ary 22, 1970

leaflet­ing the jews

I have writ­ten else­where about leaflet­ing. That year, on Jan­u­ary 19, 1970, the Jew­ish Rad­i­cal Com­mu­nity [of Los Ange­les] issued its sec­ond leaflet (for that year or ever?):


jew­ish rad­i­cal com­mu­nity leaflet; jan­u­ary 19, 1970




Tu B’Shvat 5730 ……………………………Jan­u­ary 22, 1970


A human being who is out of touch with the land is deprived of an impor­tant spir­i­tual dimen­sion. The agrar­ian soci­ety described in the bible had a deep respect for the fruits of the earth and were as del­i­cate as pos­si­ble in their use of the land. They let their fields go unused one year in seven so the soil could be replen­ished; they refrained from eat­ing the fruit of imma­ture trees; they avoided graz­ing sheep in order to pro­tect grass­lands; they for­bade their sol­diers to plun­der the fruit trees of con­quered lands.


I cre­ated all my beau­ti­ful and glo­ri­ous works for your sake. Take heed not to cor­rupt and destroy my world.

Eccle­si­astes Rab­bah 7:13


We no longer live in a pri­mar­ily agrar­ian soci­ety, but a feel­ing of respect for the earth’s bounty is the log­i­cal appli­ca­tion of bib­li­cal verses. If we are to pro­tect nat­ural resources for future gen­er­a­tions, we must have as our motive sus­te­nance in con­cert with nature not profit, exploita­tion and plun­der of nat­ural wealth and beauty.


Cor­po­rate farm­ers use dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals on crops, ren­der­ing them unfit or barely fit for human con­sump­tion in order to max­i­mize yields, the sur­plus of which is buried under the ground “for lack of a good mar­ket,” while mil­lions starve. We allow the cor­po­rate states to rape the earth for the enrich­ment of their rul­ing classes. One exam­ple with which we as Jews and South­ern Cal­i­for­ni­ans have con­tact is the net­work of oil monop­o­lies. Aside from their actions in the Mid­dle East as impe­ri­al­ist inter­est, here in the U.S. they pol­lute the oceans with off­shore drilling, and encour­age the pol­lu­tion of the cities, the air and our lives with their involve­ment in the auto­mo­tive industry.


The land is raped by the greed of the pow­er­ful. Out of respect for our tra­di­tion, Jews must be aware of mod­ern insen­si­tiv­ity to the ecol­ogy and the “own­er­ship rights” which vio­late the nature ben­e­fit which was meant to exist between men and the land.


And they shall build houses and inhabit them;
And they shall plant vine­yards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit
They shall not plant and another eat;
For the days of a tree shall the days of My peo­ple be,
And My cho­sen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Isa­iah 65:21–22

but­tons and trees

Very few lapel but­tons exist that refer to Tu b’Sh’vat directly. While at one time the Zion­ist youth move­ments in Los Ange­les would use the oppor­tu­nity to plant trees in recently burnt areas of Grif­fith Park in con­junc­tion with the Jew­ish National Fund, the annual JNF but­ton (with its image of or sug­ges­tion of tree plant­ing) appears at the time of Yom haAtaz­maut. The fol­low­ing but­ton is from the Bal­ti­more Hebrew Con­gre­ga­tion, while it explic­itly men­tions plant­ing a tree in 1991 sim­i­larly makes no sug­ges­tion that it is asso­ci­ated with Tu b’Sh’vat.

i planted a tree at bhc 1991

Date: 1991
Size: 5.71
Pin Form: clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text Sponosred • by • the • BHC • Sisterhood •

a tree

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jacket you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­ally attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate museum. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

We broth­ers took another photo with our mother a month before she died.

broth­ers and mother, approx­i­mately a month before her death

Now, as I pre­pare this post, 43 years after we first pre­pared the leaflet (it is in Jay’s print­ing), we broth­ers sit beside each other in his home on Kib­butz Hatzor-Ashdod, review­ing pho­tos of the two of us and of our mother (and other mem­bers of the fam­ily). And we con­tinue to share (among many oth­ers) com­mon ideas about envi­ron­men­tal­ism, pol­i­tics and Jew­ish life. And I won­der, when did the Jew­ish envi­ron­men­tal move­ment begin.

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