Tu BiShvat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees, is upon us. While it may not be the most celebrated new year in the Jewish tradition, there is a simple power to the holiday - the call for us to become attuned to nature and learn what it can teach us about personal growth.
As Jews, we have the opportunity to celebrate the New Year not once, but several times. The Jewish year has four different New Year celebrations: Rosh HaShanah, Passover, Tu BiShvat, and Elul. Many Jews also celebrate the Gregorian New Year in January. That means we get five opportunities every year to do an accounting of our soul (cheshbon hanefesh) and make resolutions for growth and betterment.
Conversations about Hanukkah are few and far between in our ancient texts; most of what the Talmud records about Hanukkah is within a few pages in the tractate called Shabbat. But, as is so often the case, those millennia-old words have grown in significance as we prepare for Hanukkah 5783.
Community and Tzedakah at Hanukkah: An Interview with Authors Joelle Reizes and Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler
One of the biggest challenges parents can face during Hanukkah is helping their children see that it is a distinct holiday, rather than just a "Jewish Christmas." We sat down with co-authors Joelle Reizes (she/her) and Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler (he/him) to talk about all things Hanukkah.
As Hanukkah is deeply entwined with food, especially fried food, we've found some delicious Sephardic recipes to add to your celebration, sourced with permission from Hélène Jawhara Piñer's cookbook, Sephardi: Cooking the History.
Since childhood, Friday night dinner has held a special place in my week. My mother lit candles and set the table with an embroidered cloth and pink china. My father recited blessings over a silver kiddush cup filled with wine and an ornate oval plate that held the challah.
"Tell me a story" is a constant refrain for those of us with children in our lives. Almost as often, when the last page is turned, the child looks up and asks, "again?" Sometimes, this is a joy. Sometimes, re-reading, and re-reading some more, becomes a burden.
We sat down with Rabbi Joseph Meszler, author of "The Sukkah in the Storm: A Sukkot Story," to discuss the ways this story teaches children about strength, resilience, community, and asking for help.
As I boarded the plane to Israel in the summer of 2002 for my first year of rabbinical school at HUC in Jerusalem, my mother said, "Please, just don't meet an Israeli." As soon as the plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport, I knew that I was home. A few months later, I met that Israeli. From our first conversation, he understood that I was studying to be a rabbi, and I understood that he wanted to live only in Israel.
I am vegan because I am Jewish. Everything that led me to a vegan practice came from my childhood where I kept kosher, learned by asking thoughtful questions, and practiced daily rituals like hand washing and reciting brachot that brought intention to aspects of daily life.