This has been a bizarre winter. Instead of snow, we had warm sunny days in January. Instead of earmuffs and gloves, we wore light jackets. In fact, in some parts of the country, bears stopped hibernating, trees blossomed, and butterflies were out! It seems that with trees bursting into bud and ski runs looking like spring meadows, winter was officially canceled.
Whether you consider this a blessing or a curse, whether it is due to El Nino or global warming, there is little doubt that for New Englanders, this is unusual.
Here at the Adams Street Synagogue, we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and hosted some fantastic events in January. The Erev Shira (‘Evening of Singing’)on January 13 was wonderfully attended by members of shuls throughout Newton. Participants brought their musical instruments, lyrics were projected on a large screen, catered refreshments were enjoyed, and all had a good time. Yasher koach to Nechama Cheses for organizing this event. Our Community Shabbat Dinner on January 19 was a sold out event. The food was great and everyone enjoyed the opportunity to connect with each other over a relaxed catered meal. Thank you to Beth Drapkin for organizing the event, and to Aryeh Cheses, Lloyd Cohen, Zhanna Cantor, Sarah Lesser and Nechama Cheses for their help. January also blessed us with the arrival of the newest member of the Kent-Lakein family, Matan Yedidya, who was born on January 9th (19 b’Tevet). The bris was held at the shul on January 16th. Mazal tov to Orit, Meir, and Zeve!
The arrival of Matan Yedidya marks a new beginning, one filled with hope and anticipation. This new arrival coincides with the arrival of another new beginning, the day that marks the "New Year for Trees": Tu B'Shevat. The 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar is the start of the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. On Tu B'Shevat it is customary to eat fruit that is grown in Eretz Yisrael and to eat fruit that one has not yet eaten that season so that the Shehecheyanu blessing can be recited. These are usually the seven species associated with the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. This year, Tu B'Shevat falls on Shabbat (February 3rd), and the shul will host a special seudat shelishit featuring a Tu B'Shevat seder with Rabbi David Maayan. Please mark you calendars and plan to join us!
Another Tu B’Shevat tradition is to plant trees in Israel. This tradition began in 1890 when the teacher and writer Zeev Yabetz went out with his students in a school in Zichron Yaakov for a festive planting. This initiative was adopted in 1908 by the Israeli Teachers Trade Union, and later on by the Land Development Authority (Keren Kayemet L’Israel). This is a wonderful way to teach our children the value of planting trees in Eretz Yisrael and support the State of Israel. If you would like to purchase a tree to plant in Israel through the shul, perhaps in honor or memory of a loved one, please contact me directly at .