Dear Mom,

Once again, another Jewish holiday is creeping up on us and, again, I’ll learn the real way to celebrate it in Israel.

Tu b’Shevat will be here in just a week. Israelis will celebrate their appreciation of nature by planting trees and preparing feasts that include the Seven Species—wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates—as if this is something that isn’t done every day here!

In Israel, nature appreciation spans way beyond Tu b’Shevat. Resource conservation happens all year round, and it’s not limited to environmentalists and hippies. Everyone conserves resources. There is no other option. While I do enjoy the occasional long shower, I’ve always considered myself to be careful when it comes to water usage, recycling, etc.  But in Israel, I’m constantly reminded of how sloppy I’ve been.

Growing up in America has led me to believe that my resource supply is endless. If resource conservation is the one habit I take away from my time in Israel, I will be satisfied.

On another note, I’m still getting used to the different seasonal produce here. Strawberries are in season, which is strange especially in light of the freak snow storm in Jerusalem a few weeks ago. There’s snow on the ground and strawberry carts are popping up everywhere. Can you imagine?

My recipe for Winter Couscous honors the holiday’s traditional seven species with wheat, dates and pomegranates, while allowing those of you who are stateside to honor the environment by sticking to seasonal winter produce of root vegetables. Hope you enjoy!

Xoxo
Shaina