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Hila Ratzabi

Director of Virtual Content & Programs, Ritualwell

Since 2015 Hila Ratzabi has worked at Ritualwell, shepherding the publication of hundreds of poems, prayers and rituals and creating innovative online programming. She is passionate about sharing new ways to nurture and develop Jewish creativity. Born in Rehovot, Israel, and raised in Queens, New York, Ratzabi is a poet, writer, editor and writing coach. She holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from Barnard College, a BA in Jewish Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary (Double Degree Program, 2003), and an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College (2007). Her poetry is published in a variety of literary journals and in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, and her articles have appeared in publications including The Wisdom Daily, MyJewishLearning, the Jewish Daily Forward, Kveller, Alma, and Zeek. Ratzabi lives in Oak Park, Il., outside Chicago, with her husband and two children.

A Video Poem for Your Tu B’Shvat Seder

Tu B’Shvat is known as the Jewish New Year of the trees. The holiday was originally connected to agricultural offerings brought to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, and this date determined when the crop year would begin and end.  It was revitalized by the kabbalists of Tzfat in the 16th century, with the invention of the Tu B’Shvat seder, where we eat and bless symbolic foods and drink four cups of wine. The intention is to draw down divine shefa—abundance or spiritual sustenance—through the act of blessing and eating these foods. Tu B’Shvat was later revived again through the Zionist movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, connecting it to tree planting in the land of Israel. Today, Jewish environmentalists use Tu B’Shvat as a time to reflect on our connection to the earth and our obligations to protect it.  

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