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Enjoy Jewish storytelling Sunday

Tu B' Shvat is also known as Jewish Arbor Day

Storyteller Devorah Spillman will bring the Jewish holiday Tu B' Shvat to life at Beit Haverim Sunday, Jan. 22, in Lake Oswego.

Tu B' Shvat, also known as Jewish Arbor Day or the tree's birthday, is observed on the 15th day of the Jewish month Shvat, which this year begins at sundown, Jan. 24 through Jan. 25. Scholars believe Tu B' Shvat was originally an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring.

'You know how people who garden use this time of year to leaf through seed catalogs? That is what Tu B' Shvat is about - preparation,' said Rabbi Alan Berg of Beit Haverim. 'In ancient times you would prepare or designate what sacrifices you would offer by the time of Tu B' Shvat.'

Spillman, a storyteller for nearly 30 years, will share stories sure to delight adults and children of all ages with her mix of humor, puppets and audience involvement.

'Devorah is an accomplished storyteller with a strong background in education, as well as a knowledgable commitment to Judais,' said Nathan Somers, Beit Haverim religious school administrator. 'We are thrilled that Devorah brings to Lake Oswego a Jewish rendition of her story, 'The Fruits of Friendship,' as we celebrate Tu B' Shvat.'

The event Sunday is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

The storytelling from 2:35 to 3:05 p.m. is most appropriate for children in kindergarten through third grade. The session from 3:10 to 3:40 p.m. is appropriate for those in grades four through seven. All students and parents are invited to attend a session from 3:55 to 4:15 p.m., which will be followed by a Tefilah service.

Today it is customary for Jews across the world to bring a rich meaning to the holiday with environmental themes that involve greening the earth and celebrating nature with a seder of fruits and nuts. The Tu B' Shvat seder will be held Feb. 12 at the church.

The storytelling will be a kick off to Beit Haverim's 'Plant Trees in Israel' fundraiser. Each student will receive a special Jewish National Fund (JNF) Tzedakah box to bring home and collect coins. Coins will be used to plant trees in Israel.