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.
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.”
As the son of Holocaust survivors, I ruled out the possibility of ever visiting a concentration camp. Doing so would be emotionally off the charts.
Yom HaShoah is typically a somber time to reflect, and for me personally, to be angry at the world. Last year, however, was different.
To make the ceremonies and reflections of Holocaust Remembrance Day meaningful, there must be ways it informs our decisions as Jews and as human beings all year long.
Yom HaShoah is a day of mourning in Israel. Many stores close, music on the radio reflects the somber nature of the day, and most amazing is the sound of the siren.
As Israel marks 70 years, here are seven ways (one for each decade!) to engage your congregation in celebrating the country and her people -- now and throughout the year.