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The upcoming holiday of Tu BiShvat -- the birthday of the trees - brings back a memory of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the museum is an enormous cross-section of a giant sequoia tree. Standing before it is a sublime experience. The cross-section overwhelms you with its sheer size, inspiring questions about the size of the tree it was cut from.
On Tu Bishvat we celebrated trees and a season of new growth. I've been doing lots of thinking about trees, as I frequently do, and the role they play in providing oxygen for the planet. At the Union of Reform Judaism, we provide oxygen to our communities by creating compassionate spaces for our participants to grow and thrive. We can respond to current and future challenges by fostering resilience that reflect our Jewish values.
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Decorate your Sukkot table with Ethiopian, North African, and Sephardi breads full of fall colors and tantalizing spice mixes and broaden our palates to the customs of worldwide Jewish communities. Laden with seasonal honey, pumpkin, or orange, they don’t need braiding, and they make perfect gifts.
Sukkot is known in Hebrew as Z’man Simchateinu – the time of our joy. It’s the happiest festival on the Jewish calendar, labeled as such because it represents a time for coming together to enjoy family, nature, and a bountiful harvest.
I had been wanting to write about Queen Vashti for a while. A big part of my rabbinate and my writing focuses on uplifting the stories of women in the biblical narrative, especially those who do not get enough attention.
When I was a child, I remember saying to my mother about the Purim story, "Maybe Haman wouldn't have done anything if he'd known Queen Esther was Jewish." King Ahasuerus' easily manipulated nature laid the foundations for the story, while Haman's vociferous antisemitism drove the story forward.
Whispering into the ears of the foolish king, our calculating villain puts his fiendish plan into action. This is the moment he has been waiting for. Nothing less than perfect acceptance can launch his heinous plot.
Coming a month and a half before the spring equinox and two months before Passover, Tu BiShvat provides a glimmer of springtime at a time when winter can often be at its cruelest.