Tu B’shevat and the Redwoods

redwoodsSo, yesterday was Tu B’shevat. The fifteenth day of Shevat. The birthday of the trees. I happen to really love trees. One of the main reasons my family and I moved back to California is that this is the only place (other than China) where Redwood trees grow in groves and forests. Every summer, my family and I go camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, north of Eureka. Honestly, if it wasn’t so remote, I would live there. Those amazing majestic giant redwoods are so beautiful. I love to walk among them, smelling their earthy scent and discovering the incredible ecosystem that makes up their world. My kids love the Redwoods too. We hug them and they hug us back (the rustling of the branches is our evidence of a return hug). We climb over their roots and explore their “goose pens” (the hollowed out part at the bottom). We see faces in their bark and count how many banana slugs we can find in the pine needles on the ground.

Last week I spoke a little about prayer. Being among the Redwoods is a sort of living prayer for me. I say the Shehecheyanu each year when we arrive and the whole time we are there I just wonder at the beauty of the world that G-d has given us. Yesterday was our day to celebrate trees. What can we learn from the trees? Redwoods provide shelter for the plants and animals along the forest floor and in the forest canopy. They provide food for millions of organisms. They are mostly fireproof. They grow closely together and support each other through drought and heavy rain. As individuals and as a community, how do we provide for those in need? Are we listening to each other and hearing when others need help? Are we growing closer as a community and supporting each other both in times of struggle and in times of celebration? I think we are well on our way. I look forward to continuing the journey with my TOR kehilla.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Announcements +++++++++++++++++++++++++

PURIM SPIEL MEETING – This Sunday, January 31st at 12:15 – We will read through the script and talk about the show and the time commitment. We welcome players of all ages, however we really need young adults ages 10 and up. If you have questions, please contact me!

Hebrew School on Wednesday- 6:30pm to 8pm.

Final Friday Shabbat and Dinner this Friday at 6:45pm

Bat Mitzvah of Riley Froomin this Saturday at 10am. Mazel Tov Riley!

We need help with the many events happening this Spring. You received an email today with a document listing what we have going on. If you can help, please let us know!

Challah kits are still available in the temple office – $10 each. Make a fresh challah at home this week for Shabbat!

February 20th Hava Havana Gala Tickets are on sale! $40 per person/ $70 per couple until February 5th. Remember that childcare is provided. This night will be tons of fun! Make sure you are there!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++ School Update ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Our littlest learners spent time learning about Tu B’shevat this week and made some very cool trees with paint and construction paper. They also made beautiful music with Carol. This class really loves to listen to stories and learn together. Matok (the class bear) was excited to go home with a new friend for the week this week! So much fun!

First Grade

Efrat’s class learned about Tu B’shevat as well. They each received a little seed and created a beautiful “fruit tree” on a piece of paper. They discovered how a giant plant or tree can grow from a very tiny seed. The class also got to taste some of the fruits and nuts that are traditionally eaten in celebration of Tu B’shevat.

This class is having lots of fun using movement as they learn their Hebrew letters and colors. Adom – Red; sah-gol – Purple; kah-khol – Blue; tsa-hov – Yellow; yah-rok – Green

Second and Third Grade

The second and third grade class also learned about Tu B’shevat this week. They made a construction paper tree and moved around the classroom, learning different facts about the holiday and writing them on paper leaves. They then attached the leaves to their tree. The students also painted a clay pot and planted parsley seeds in it. If you give them sun and water, they should be sprouted and ready to pick for your Passover seder plate!

Fourth and Fifth Grade

Elana’s class spent time reviewing their letters and solving little riddles and games as they reviewed. Then they learned more about the weekly parshat, HaShavuah, where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. They also planted parsley seeds in honor of Tu B’shevat and in preparation for Passover. Finally, they learned about Brit Milah and Brit Bat.

Ask your student to recite some of the Hebrew letters they reviewed this week. Have them tell you about Parshat HaSavuah and its connection to Passover.

Sixth Grade

This week, the sixth graders finished a project they began on Wednesday evening, a poster board explaining Tu B’shevat. They also had a great discussion on being thankful and what it means to be thankful. In addition, there were more presentations about famous Jewish people and they learned the last three reasons why it is great to be Jewish.

Ask your student about the upcoming Torah portion, Yitro. If they need to, have them look it up and read a summary online. What are the final three reasons it’s great to be Jewish? What are the three distinct parts of the Hebrew bible?

Seventh Grade

We had another really great Bar Mitzvah this week. Sebastian really did a beautiful job and we are all very proud of him.

As the students complete their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we are hoping they will continue to join us on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings to lend their support to their fellow classmates. In addition, the kids have been having some really great discussions with Art. They’ve learned more about the Torah and the meaning of prayer in general and certain prayers specifically. They been able to sight read new lines from the Torah as well.

If your student is interested in deeper learning or is interested in learning a different Torah portion to chant on Shabbat morning, please let me know. We welcome their enthusiasm and have many ways to keep them connected!

Have a wonderful week!