As we prepare to celebrate 67 years of Israel’s independence next week, religious Zionists will use particular forms to show their appreciation for the state. There will be special synagogue services. Many congregations will recite Hallel. The restrictions of the Omer period will be suspended to make way for parties, dancing and barbeques.
The story of Pesach is of the journey from slavery to freedom, from suffering in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. And colour is added to that story by the account of the Exodus itself. The Israelites left in such haste, they did not have time to let their bread rise and so they carried the dough on their backs and as a result we get matzah.
Many Israelis were disappointed when Rabbi David Stav failed to win election as the country's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi last year. There had been high hopes of him prising the institution from its Charedi grip and introducing a more modern Orthodox outlook.
Partnership services have existed in some places in Israel and the United States for a while, but have only recently appeared in the UK. They offer Orthodox liturgy and traditional seating - men and women are separated by a partition - but differ in that women, as well as men, lead parts of the prayers and read from the Torah.
When seven years ago we said we were moving to Dubai for work, our north-west London family and friends had reservations. Why would we choose to be strangers in a strangers land? The reality was quite different. Sharon, whose parents came from the Middle East, felt an immediate affinity. We were drawn into the "tent culture", enjoying warm hospitality and genuine acceptance.
As investigative journalist Stephen Fried followed the fortunes of an American synagogue in search of a rabbi, he was taken aback by some of the behaviour he saw. The search was supposed to take one year, but it ended up taking three.
None of us would think twice about a Jewish doctor rushing off to hospital to perform an emergency operation on a Saturday morning rather than going to shul. We take it for granted that pikuach nefesh, saving life, takes precedence over the prohibitions against work on Shabbat.
In Israel, this Tu Bishvat will be a strangely quiet affair. No children planting new trees, no rabbis digging new forests. It's the Tu Bishvat of shmittah, the sabbatical year; with our spades at rest, it's time to consider big questions of eco-halachah