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Your monthly Phone and Learn
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Issue 39
January 2012 
Teves / Shevat 5773

Dear Reader,



The Torah is often referred to as 'Eitz Chaim', a tree of life. And the month of Shevat, with the New Year for Trees falling as it does on the 15th of the month (or 26th January in 2013), is a particularly auspicious time to really delve into your Jewish learning! Take advantage of PaL's flexibility and the fact that


you don't need to leave comfort of your own warm home to connect with your learning partner or tutor. Why not trial a new study topic to see you through the winter months as well?


Don't forget that the PaL team is able to suggest courses of study and suitable reading material for your learning partnership, and is always on hand to offer help and advice. 


Have a productive and warm January! 


Judy Silkoff
Programme Coordinator 
Round Up...
An Overview of Events in the Community
"JLE JLE, 152-154 Golders Green Road, NW11 8HE 
Winter Learning Programme for university students. Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th January from 11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch included). For more information telephone 020 8458 4588 or email
"seed seed, Mowbray House, Edgware HA8 8DJ  

'Men's Israel Trip'. 26 - 30 January 2013, based at the Ramada hotel. Spend some time in Yeshiva and explore Israel. For more information email alazarus@seed.uk.net 

Ask the Rabbi

with Rabbi Harvey Belovski 
Questions from the PaL Mailbag... 

Q:  Where does the custom of eating 15 different fruits on Tu B'shevat come from? Is there a deeper meaning behind it or does 15 simply represent the date of the month it falls on?


A: The 15th of Shevat is mentioned in the Mishnah as a tax date for farmers, as it marked the beginning of the new tithing year for most type of fruit.  Today this date is significant, as it is needed to ensure that Israeli fruits are tithed in the correct year of the seven-year Shemittah cycle.  Rashi explains that this date was chosen because (at least in Israel), the majority of the winter has passed and the sap is starting to rise in the trees.  A later custom is to celebrate the first herald of spring by eating fruits on 15th Shevat, especially those for which the Land of Israel is renowned - dates, olives, pomegranates, figs and grapes.  Although in this context the number 15 has no significance beyond being the date of the month, it is a common practice to serve 15 fruits.  Some imbue this number with meaning, as there were 15 steps between the two major sections of the Temple and there are 15 Songs of Ascent in Tehillim.  Whatever one does on the day, it should be an opportunity to thank God for the bounty and diversity available at your local greengrocer!

New Releases
 Make Yourself at Home
Sarah Chana Radcliffe
Genesis and Genes
Yoram Boqacz
The Balancing Act
Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller
Save 10%!   
 With thanks to PaL's Judaica supplier Torah Treasures, a 10% discount is offered on every book purchase made for your PaL partnership!

Torah Treasures
020 8458 8289  

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Phone and Learn (PaL) is a division of Partners in Torah*, USA www.partnersintorah.org, a unique Jewish identity-building initiative committed to fostering unity among Jews of all backgrounds. PaL matches Jews who want to know more about their heritage with a friendly, knowledgeable tutor for an hour a week of Jewish study and discussion, over the phone.
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