Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that it can be difficult to be Jewish at Christmas time. It has seeped into North American cultural consciousness so thoroughly that South Park even wrote a song about it, complete with trademark expletives.
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.
It is life we want, no more and no less than that, our own life feeding on our own vital sources, in the fields and under the skies of our homeland, a life based on our own physical and mental labors; we want vital energy and spiritual richness from this living source.
We who have become cynical,
Whom life has raised its tough first
Of despair and
Disappointment and heartache
We who have learned to protect our souls
And toughen our hearts
To avoid more anguish
Last year, my pre-school-aged daughter was acutely aware that her friends and their families would be celebrating Christmas and that she wasn’t going to be a part of it.
Tu BiShvat (Jewish Arbor Day) is the time of year when Israeli schoolchildren plant trees. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a teacher instituted the tree-planting custom.