Teaching Children About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Tu B’Shevat

Take a cue from The Maccabeats and Naturally Seven to “share a little light” with a tikkun olam project in honor of Tu B’Shevat and MLK Day

In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating Tu B’Shevat, or “New Year for the Trees.” While Tu B’Shevat originally started out as a way to help farmers know when to plant new trees or harvest crops, today it’s a great opportunity to practice tikkun olam, or repairing the world. In fact, many communities and families use Tu B’Shevat as an opportunity to do service projects like park cleanups.

For families in the United States, Tu B’Shevat and Martin Luther King Jr. Day often coincide. At first glance you may be wondering: what does the birthday of the trees have to do with a great civil rights leader like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Well, a lot actually!

Dr. King dedicated his life to making the world a better place and securing equal rights for all people. He was the definition of a mensch – an all-around good person. Honor Dr. King and his legacy as you celebrate Tu B’Shevat with some of these service ideas and activities:

Related: Jewish Children’s Books to Read on Martin Luther King Jr. Day



See how a seed grows by sprouting an avocado pit. Watch the roots develop over time and see how long it takes before you can transfer it into soil. Talk about what else you might grow in a family garden and who could benefit from the food you grow. Find out if a local soup kitchens or food bank accepts fresh good for donation; they often need fresh produce in addition to canned goods.


Planting Parsley
Thank You, Trees!


Talk about diversity in the environment. When you examine trees and flowers outside, how is each tree or plant unique, and how are all trees the same? What can this teach us about respecting differences in people?

Elementary Age


Meet up with some friends for a park cleanup and help beautify a play space so more children and families can enjoy it.


Solomon and the Trees
Just a Dream


Talk about ways to keep the earth cleaner and less polluted. How do the energy we use and the things we buy affect the health of our planet?

Middle School Age


Plan a family service project. There are lots of ways to help out in your community even if you only have a couple of hours to spend. Try one of these ideas:


Zlateh the Goat
Susie Q Fights Back


Talk about your family’s history. Does your family have local roots, so to speak, going back generations, or are you relatively new to your city, region, or country?


Interested in learning more about the connections between Tu B’Shevat and Martin Luther King Day? Check out these resources:

Does your family have a Tu B’Shevat or MLK Day tradition? Share it with us on the PJ Library Facebook page.