Often times the long list of social justice issues that need addressing seem like an insurmountable mountain to climb. But when social justice movements converge, it provides unique opportunities for us to collaborate and scale these high peaks of injustice together. Racial justice and environmental justice are not mutually exclusive; in truth, you can not have one without the other. The intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tu B’Shvat are full of meaning and lessons to be learned if we study them together on this double holiday!
This Tu B’Shvat Seder written by Rabbi Arthur Waskow provides a wonderful opportunity to explore this relationship. This Seder explores climate change, our communal responsibilities to each other, the battles over fossil fuel pipelines running through native communities, and more. If you are planning a Tu B’Shvat seder this year, it is worth a look! Rabbi Waskow says, “But there is a life-giving way, a sacred way, a way of love: At the same moment when we honor the rebirth of trees, the rebirth of the Tree of Life, we honor the birthday of Martin Luther King and the rebirth of the energy he symbolized.”
Hazon has made a few Tu B’Shvat Haggadahs that provide interesting insight for us this year. Here is a family Tu B’Shvat Seder. This Seder asks meaningful questions that families can discuss together and provides a shopping list for ritual objects that you will need! This Hazon Seder from 2019 would be a good one to use this year because the holiday coincided with MLK Day that year as well; it focuses on the moral imperatives of our time as a segue into the double holiday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is often used to beautify communal spaces. It is not uncommon to find people cleaning parks or rivers on MLK Day. Combining a social justice environmental project is a great opportunity to celebrate MLK’s legacy of taking action to make our world a better place and celebrating nature and trees for Tu B’Shvat. Here are some service opportunities in our area that speak to these double meanings:
- MLK Day of Service at Barton Nature Area. Help to restore the Barton Nature Area hosted by Natural Area Preservation.
- Listen to Malik Yakini’s presentation on his Food Justice work in Detroit at University of Michigan’s MLK Symposium.
I hope that your MLK Day and Tu B’Shvat is full of meaning and purpose this year. If you take part in any of the activities shared here, please take a picture and share with us!!