Tu BiShvat and Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Holidays: Jewish

This year, Tu BiShvat and Martin Luther King Jr. Day fall on the same day — January 17, 2022. The convergence of these two seemingly unrelated holidays gives us an opportunity to explore two important issues of our time: climate justice and social justice. 

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was our nation’s greatest champion of social and racial justice. Our Jewish tradition declares “Justice, justice shall you pursue. (Deut 16:20). Biblical commentators note that, because every word of the Torah is precious, repeating the word “justice” twice demonstrates it is an essential Jewish value. 

On Tu BiShvat, we can face head-on the impact of climate change. While all of us will be impacted, the burdens and challenges will fall disproportionately on poorer nations. Even in our country, the impact of climate change will vary dramatically based on economic status and race (see the NAACP page on environmental and climate justice). 

We invite grandparents to talk with their grandchildren and family members about the challenges of social justice and climate justice.  

Consider discussing some of these quotes from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and our Jewish sources. What activities and actions might your family members engage in to address social and climate injustice?

  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King Jr.
  • If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when? Hillel the Elder, Ethics of our Ancestors/Pirkei Avot 1:14
  • The time is always right to do what is right. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Leviticus 19:34


David Raphael is Co-Founder and CEO of the Jewish Grandparents Network
Featured photo by Raffaele Nicolussi on Unsplash