Though Tu B’Shevat comes during the heart of winter in North America, the holiday allows us to begin planning for the spring, assessing our environmental commitments for the year, and examining our spiritual place in the natural world. Our tradition has a day that specifically calls out trees and our relationship to them. Recent observance of this holiday has emphasized it as a type of Jewish Earth Day – an opportunity for us to show our environmental commitment through our Jewish Tradition. It also allows us the spiritual space to assess our place as humans in the natural world. For instance, what does it mean to us, this year, when we hear the passage from Dueteronomy, “Because a person is a Tree of the Field.”
This year in Boulder, our Jewish community is strongly showing its commitment to the environment. Two prominent Jewish Institutions, the JCC and Har Hashem, installed solar panels on their roofs this year. Milk and Honey Farm at the J is becoming a hub for food and environmental programming for all ages. If you stay for Kiddush lunch at Bonai Shalom, chances are the eggs you eat will have come from their chickens who roam behind Rabbi Marc’s house.
There are so many ways that we can celebrate the holiday this year in Boulder, but here I’ll mention just a few of my favorites. We can sign up for the Tuv Ha’aretz CSA with Red Wagon Farm, committing to supporting our local economy and environment through purchasing local vegetables (and if you sign up by January 31st, which happens to be Tu B’Shevat, you get a $25 discount). We can take our families this Sunday, January 28th, to the Tu B’Shevat celebration at the Boulder JCC, co-sponsored by Bonai Shalom, where we will use all our senses to have a birthday party for the trees. And lastly, if the trails aren’t too icy- try going to the Marshall Mesa trailhead after sunset on Tuesday or Wednesday, to bask in the light of the full moon.
Though every year I grapple with exactly what it means to say, “A person is a Tree of the Field,” I know that joining together in community to celebrate the trees at their birthday party allows me to reaffirm my commitments to the environment and brainstorm the new ways in which I want to grow them this year.