125 community members came together at the Boulder JCC to celebrate the birthday of the trees, Tu B’shevat. Participants ranged in age from B-mitzvah students to senior citizens for a delicious vegan dinner, prepared by Miche Bacher and Amy Kramer and a seder.
In the 16th century, the Kabbalists of Tzfat compiled a Tu B’Shvat seder, somewhat similar to the seder for Passover. This ritual involves enjoying fruits and nuts, particularly those from the land of Israel. Each step of the seder is an opportunity to discuss Kabbalistic concepts and other ideas related to nature and our environment. The community seder at the JCC was inspirational and educational.
Lauren Gifford, Associate Director of the Soil Carbon Solutions Center at Colorado State University and a faculty member in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, was the keynote speaker for the program.
“I grew up in Philadelphia and I had never heard of a holiday called Tu B”shevat,” said Gifford. “Until my daughter started getting the books from the PJ Library. A holiday dedicated to the TREES! It’s my favorite Jewish holiday.”
Gifford spoke about nature as a natural climate solution. The only response to climate change is to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. “The solutions are in your backyard. We have to treat the soil better. Create more plant diversity and shift to more regenerative agriculture practices.”
Other speakers included Becky O’Brien, Director of Food & Climate at Adamah, and Moshe Kornfeld, the Founder and Director of Colorado Jewish Climate Action. Kornfeld stressed “The time is now to marshal our talents, energy, and creativity to talk about climate solutions, not just the climate crisis. Individual actions are necessary and it is essential that we all take steps as a community.” Kornfeld spoke about a new partnership with Elephant Energy to receive a discount on heat pumps and other energy-saving changes to private homes. Lexi Miller, a freshman at Boulder High School, spoke as a member of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement “We need to do something, but not everything. When you do something it prevents despair.”
Dan Etter, Senior Program Manager, Colorado Repair the World, introduced the third cup of wine and the eating of entirely edible fruits, as well as the service component of the evening. Dan introduced Laura and Rich from the Masa Seed Foundation, located at the Masa farm in East Boulder. The Seed Foundation was created to preserve, develop, and share open-pollinated seeds. Participants went through pounds of seeds by hand to pick out usable seeds from the detritus.
Sponsors of the program included Congregation Bonai Shalom, Congregation Har HaShem, Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Repair the World, Shulchan.net, Tuv Ha’aretz , Haver, and Colorado Jewish Climate Action.
“We couldn’t be happier to partner with the Boulder JCC to help folks build their own meaningful connections to Judaism and Jewishness through this innovative encounter,” said Rabbi Fred Greene.