During these difficult times it’s even more important to gather and feed our spirits through connection even if only virtually. Celebrating the joyful holiday of TuBshvat or Jewish Earth Day with a seder is a winter tradition at the Congregation for Humananistic Judaism (CHJ), and we refused to let the pandemic stop us this year. Nurturing and caring for our Earth provides the opportunity for celebration of the seasons and serious evaluation of Earth’s climate situation, a call to do better than in the past.
This year we added “new traditions”. For the first time we partnered with Stamford Jewish Community Center, using a fun promotional video created by our song-leader to invite them. Our mitzvah students decorated and delivered nearly 40 goodie bags packed with ceremonial foods of dried fruits, nuts and olives.
This year we included readings from Greta Thunberg, climate activist, and a Marshall Island poet whose homeland is at risk of submersion by rising seas in the next decade. During the service our members shared personal reflections about nature’s alignment with their values, including noticing early peepers (frogs hatching), planting gardens for a respite from the grief of losing loved ones and harvesting our own food. In the chat we shared names of loved ones lost in the past 12 months.
More than 80 participants joined us from the tri-state area and as far away as Denver, Atlanta and London.
You can view the written Tu B’Shvat Service here.
Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of Trees, falls on the fifteenth day of the month of Shvat. It originated in a pagan festival honoring Asherah, goddess of farmers and fertility. Her chief festival took place at the end of the rainy season, when the sap begins to rise in the fruit trees of Israel. – in other words, at the first signs of spring.
Tu B’Shvat represents one of the three agricultural holidays (along with Sukkot and Shavuot) that reveal the matriarchic roots of Judaiism, a time before Eve was expelled from the Garden and Queen Vashti tossed out for not showing up at the King’s banquet. Tu B’Shvat originated in a pagan festival honoring Asherah, goddess of farmers and fertility. We reflect on our stewardship of nature, gathering to share food, music and fellowship,
A recording of the 2021 virtual Tu B’Shvat seder can be enjoyed here.