Shorts: Bay Area

Local schools join JNF’s Tu B’Shevat program

On Tu B’Shevat, kindergartners from the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School will be planting parsley to use for their Passover seders, graphing the growth, learning about the soil and absorbing math and science in the process.

Meanwhile, some classes at the Foster City school will create dried fruit and pine cone decorations for a Tu B’Shevat seder, while others will bake cakes for the holiday celebration, following instructions in Hebrew. Still others will attend the seder, which will focus on ecology in light of current events.

Students at the Foster City school, along with those at some 34 Bay Area Jewish day schools and religious schools, will be participating in the Jewish National Fund’s “Tu B’Shevat in the Schools” program. Also called the New Year for the Trees, the holiday begins at sundown Monday, Jan. 24.

The holiday is marked by planting trees and special seders, as well as ecological projects. At the Wornick school, students will learn to “cherish the gift we have in nature and our surroundings” said Marit Shmargad, vice principal and head of Judaic studies. Writing projects will include such topics as imaginary conversations between a tree and a drop of rain or a tree and the sun, while those who are strongest in Hebrew will study and teach the meaning of the Hebrew idiom “Every leaf on a tree has a different shape.”

Participating schools include Brandeis Hillel in San Francisco and San Rafael, the Contra Costa Jewish Day School in Lafayette, Oakland Hebrew Day School and the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, among others.

Youth from registered schools can purchase trees to be planted in the Negev. For $18, two trees will be planted, one to honor the student and one in the name of someone the student chooses to honor. To plant a tree, call (888) JNF-0099 or go to

Lecture series with ethics scholar

Rabbi Elliot Dorff, a Conservative Jewish ethics scholar, is leading a three-day series of lectures, “War, Human Intimacy and End of Life: a Jewish Approach to Modern Ethics,” Jan. 28-30 at Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. Dorff is a professor of philosophy at the University of Judaism in Bel Air.

The series will begin 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, with “Where Do Jewish Ethics Come From?” The following day at 2 p.m., Dorff will discuss “The Ethics of War.” The series will be wrapped up on Sunday, Jan. 30, with “The Ethics of New Sciences” at 9:15 a.m. and “End-of-Life Ethics” at 11:30 a.m. The events are free. Information: (415) 388-1818, ext. 18.