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Young Israel Branches Out

The Young Israel of Plainview, in honor of the Jewish Holiday of Tu B’Shevat, hosted a community wide Kiddush, where eco-friendly refreshments were served and all were welcomed. The event, held after synagogue services on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 132 Southern Parkway in Plainview, was carefully planned for some time and created an air of excitement in the local community. Tu B’Shevat is translated literally as 15th of Shevat, and essentially signifies the New Year for the trees.

To honor the holiday, in a way commensurate with its historical origins, the synagogue planned the Kiddush with an environmental focus. All products served were from local vendors, thereby bypassing the wasted energy and inherent damage to the Earth caused by importing goods from other areas. The vegetarian offerings, selected in a way to highlight gifts from earth, were as diverse as they were eclectic, with a special spotlight on sustainability.

Tu B’Shevat is the day that marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees. This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

The day of Tu B’Shevat is traditionally marked by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Event organizer Tina Abraham reflected on the happening and said that it is a great way for people to learn about their impact on the environment.

“People often ask me how they themselves could possibly have any positive impact on the environment,” she said. “I always bring up one of my favorite gifts from nature; the shade from a majestic oak tree. If only one or two leaves were there to help, the result would be essentially nil. But if, collectively, all the leaves work together for the cause, the result is nothing short of spectacular.”

The official motto of the event was Educate, Demonstrate & Inspire. Atara Marzouk, who was involved with the planning of the occasion, hoped that the project would be a contagious one and other communities would follow suit.

“As happy as we are to put on this event, it would be that much more satisfying if other communities were motivated by our efforts and, accordingly, become themselves ‘green’ with envy,” said Marzouk.

The event was a wonderful success with approximately 200 participants. Several people remarked on the vegetarian offerings catered by Fairway Market, commenting that they were impressed by the array of foods with a vegetarian slant made available by the market.

“It was incredibly refreshing to see what a wide range of alternatives can be provided,” said one attendee.

Several members of the sisterhood also hand crafted centerpieces featuring fruits from Israel shaped into flowers. In addition to food, the Young Israel of Plainview Sisterhood distributed re-usable shopping bags bearing the synagogue logo which can be used to cut down on the use of plastic while shopping in local supermarkets.