While my neighbors were putting their Christmas trees to the curb, in what seems like a ritual of replacement, I was preparing to plant for Tu BiShvat.
Tu BiShvat is a reminder that we spend our lives planting seeds. Time and effort are needed for our efforts to bear fruit. Wait patiently. One day, like the seed, we will be blessed.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, Americans will be honoring the lives of those lost in service to their country. This weekend is also known as the celebration of the symbolic beginning of summer (often with barbecues and white pants, sometimes a dangerous combination). And, coinciding with Memorial Day Weekend this year is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Sinai (and cheesecake).
Today's North American Reform synagogues have increasingly begun to rethink and attempt to reinvigorate the contemporary practice of bar and bat mitzvah, a practice that may transform Reform Judaism in general. In many ways, these conversations are reminiscent of the emergence of confirmation at the beginning of the 19th century, a significant part of a broad effort to re-envision Judaism's well known adolescent rites-de-passage in communities throughout central Europe. In time, confirmation, largely became associated with Reform Judaism.
By Joshua Weinberg
“And when you come into the Land, and have planted all manner of food bearing trees… (Lev. 19:23) The Holy one Blessed be he said to the people Israel: Even though you have found [the land] full of plenty, you shall not say: We shall sit and not plant, rather proceed with caution in your planting… For as you have entered and found the fruits of others’ labor, you so shall plant for your children. (Midrash Tanhuma)
If you’re like me, then you may remember that pivotal moment of Jewish education when you received your very own Jewish National Fund (JNF) certificate for a tree planted in Israel. Whether it was for a birth, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, or in memory of a loved one, a tree was planted in Israel to mark the occasion. The message was clear: with every passing milestone we want to connect Jews to the Land of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise. All of us who were the fortunate recipients of such trees knew in the recesses of our mind that somewhere in that strip of land, in some forest, was our tree, our little piece of Israel. As the certificates read, the JNF wished us the following: “We wish you the fortune of seeing it grow with much pleasure and ease.”