Hey, look–we’re just about a week out from Tu B’shevat! Time for a brief resource round-up.
First, as always, if you’re interested in a secular or humanistic Jewish experience of the holiday, please remember that you can look for groups that may be near you at the Society for Humanistic Judaism and Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations.
The Society for Humanistic Judaism has a discussion of Tu B’shevat in Jewish history and in Humanistic Judaism today. So does the CSJO.
Tu B’Shevat is more of a doing holiday than a thinking holiday, and is a less widely-celebrated holiday than many others–much of the focus on it is modern and a result of the growth of agriculture in Israel and the modern environmental movement. Celebration of the holiday centers on the Tu B’Shevat seder. SHJ has a number of resources specifically directed to this holiday in its online store, including a resource kit and an issue of the Humanistic Judaism journal that focuses on the holiday.
A friend (thanks, LR!) reminded me that there’s a lot more “doing” that can go on. If you enjoy the environmental angle, think about projects you can do around your area that contribute to clean air and water, or to area green spaces. Because food is a focus of the holiday, consider volunteering time at a soup kitchen or donating food or time to organizations that serve the hungry in your area. (LR, a Floridian who remained in Florida, unlike me, suggested mowing your lawn; here in central Indiana, there aren’t lawns with anything to trim at the moment.)
Or you could go out, take a nature walk, and see what’s blooming or not. As Art Waskow points out in his book, Seasons of Our Joy, this is the time of year when the very first new shoots of vegetation begin to appear in Israel. Maybe there’s more happening in your area than you’ve recognized before; Rabbi Ruth Adar, “The Coffee Shop Rabbi,” has blogged recently about a fig tree at her home that is just beginning to show signs of renewed life. What can you find where you are?
If you encounter other resources, or have them, feel free to let me know; I’ll update this post as I find more.