Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
Tu BiShvat, called the "New Year of the Trees," falls at a seemingly incongruous time of year.
The High Holidays are a time of introspection and self-assessment in anticipation of repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving and rejoicing. It is a season of healing.
The blessing after the reading of haftarah always sanctifies the day on which it is read. Throughout most of the year, that day is Shabbat, but haftarah is also read on the High Holidays.
Tu BiShvat is a minor festival whose provenance dates only to the time of the Second Temple. However, the kabbalists who clustered around the great fifteenth-century mystic Isaac Luria of Safed placed great weight on the holiday, creating new festivities, gatherings at which hymns were sung, fruit (particularly carob) was eaten, and four cups of wine were taken (as in the Passover seder).
Although Jewish weddings may take place on the days in between the Jewish High Holidays, it is generally discouraged because during that period, also known as the Days of Awe, we are focused on the solemn themes of the season.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a concept I came to understand in my early adult years. But this was my understanding during my childhood:
by Rabbi Elisa F. Koppel I’m not ashamed to admit it: I like shoes. I’m not quite obsessive about them, but I probably have more pairs of shoes than I need, and I’m always finding new ones – you know, the ones that would be perfect with that one outfit.
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.
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.