New Beginnings

Found In: Tu b'Shevat

All over the world, Jews are marking the holiday of Tu b’Shevat. It is the new year for the trees, an observance that might have been meaningful for our ancestors in ancient Israel, but that feels a little strange to me right now. Outside my door the temperature is 17 degrees, and snow is forecast ...

For those of us not witnessing the almonds blossoming in Israel, there remain many ways to approach Tu b’Shevat.   Some appreciate the theological dimensions of the holiday and hold Tu b’Shevat seders in order to explore the mystical aspects of the day. Others approach Tu b’Shevat through a contemporary environmental lens. They study texts and engage in actions that support and heal the damaged earth.

I use Tu b’Shevat as an opportunity to connect with growing things, despite the wintry weather outside. I make an effort to visit an indoor garden or  nursery to be close to vibrant healthy plants. I re-pot house plants so I can feel the dirt on my hands. I walk in my neighborhood and attend to the signs of life contained in the frost and cold. I see the hardy plants that stay green all winter and I look for signs of hidden growth under the piles of leaves and dead branches. I also love the custom of planting parsley seeds to cultivate for the Passover seder. It is a hopeful act, one that helps me look ahead to spring.