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.
This morning I met again with my usual cohort of Jewish clergy who study sacred texts together each week in the coffee shop.
My commute to work every morning is not typical. I drive through the Roaring Fork Valley with majestic, now snow-covered, mountains on my left and my right. The sky is often a clear, bright blue, and the sun glimmers off the powdery snow that shifts in the wind. I am the cantor at the Aspen Jewish Congregation, and I certainly feel blessed to live and work in such a beautiful place. This quote from Isaiah is particularly fitting for this part of the country, as the people here are very in touch with the nature around them - often finding their spiritual center while skiing a run or hiking in the hills.
This week we dive into the second book of the Torah, Exodus. While the book of Genesis traversed thousands of years, Exodus focuses on the evolution of the Israelites as a people for 40 defining years.
As a Reform Jew, I lead a largely secular life. Most of my friends aren't Jewish. My daily schedule is governed more by school hours and work demands than it is by rituals of worship. And the synagogue plays only a peripheral role in my life.
Whenever I'm asked if the Jewish holidays are coming early or late this year, I promptly answer that they'll be coming on time. And that's partially true. Rosh Hashanah will always arrive on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei just as Hanukkah will always begin on the 25th of Kislev.
Tu BiShvat, the birthday of the trees (or the new year of the trees) is a minor Jewish holiday.
Next week at this time, I’ll be stepping into the mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath. It’s been a yearlong journey that will lead me to that holy space, one I’ll enter as a former Catholic/not-quite-Jew and exit as a Jewish woman – no longer an outsider.