Dear TEE community,

You may have noticed recently that it’s not getting dark quite as early as it was a few weeks ago. Almost imperceptibly, we are moving toward spring. Tree sap is beginning to rise and it will soon be maple syrup season.

Next week we will be observing Tu b’Shevat (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat), a holiday which celebrates the significance of trees but also the importance of each season, both in nature and in our lives.

Originally, Tu b’Shevat was the date by which farmers in ancient Israel marked the age of their trees. Centuries later, Jewish mystics, connecting trees and human beings, created a seder ritual to observe the holiday as a time to reflect on spiritual growth. It is this custom of the Tu b’Shevat Seder which has been renewed in our time and connected to our awareness of our dependence on trees and the natural world.

Our Temple Emanu-El Tu b’Shevat Seder will combine mystical traditions of food and drink, symbolizing the changing seasons and our own spiritual development, with newer customs connecting the holiday to environmental consciousness. With that in mind, we will focus on foods that are grown in our region and consider our ties with the land on which we live.

The Tu b’Shevat Seder is both a joyful and a serious ritual, allowing us to celebrate the changing year as well as the changes in ourselves. For us city dwellers, it is an important opportunity to re-affirm our connection to nature and feel ourselves part of the power and beauty of creation.

I look forward to sharing the experience of the holiday with you.

Rabbi Drorah Setel