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I Just Didn't Relate...

Posted on 01/17/2014 @ 01:03 AM

Growing up, Tu B’shevat was always one of those hard holidays for me. I would be handed a tray of dried fruit, none of which I ate, and asked to celebrate something that I didn’t understand, connected to events happening halfway across the world. Tu B’shevat was the epitome of a Jewish practice to which I could not relate. I went to Jewish Day School where I learned about every holiday, and my family celebrated almost all of them. So if someone like me, who had all the knowledge and access possible at that young age, couldn’t connect, how can we expect anyone else to get it?

We spend so much of our time thinking about the masses that sometimes we lose the forest for the trees (Tu B’shevat pun absolutely intended). We busy ourselves with the entirety of our chapters, councils, regions, and hubs. We think about the things that everyone is doing. How often do we allow ourselves to focus on one teen, or understand how an idea applies directly to one person? That was my problem with Tu B’shevat – it never related to me.

Since I don’t eat fruit and I’ve never lived in Israel Tu B’shevat didn’t make any sense. As an adult, the holiday was finally made relevant to me: Tu B’shevat allows me to think about the way we celebrate the land that sustains us. It pushes me to think of my trips to Israel and the amazing image of trees and vegetation that have developed in the middle of the desert. These are personal connections that may only make sense to me. Most of our teens don’t come to us with all the background knowledge so we have to work even harder to help each and every one come to a point of understanding and then find their own connection. But let this idea be our guide – for every Jewish practice there is certainly one (but likely many) teen who doesn’t connect to it at all. Find that teen and help them develop a connection that makes sense.

May we all have a fruitful and abundant Shabbat!

This Shabbat Message was written by Aleeza Lubin, Director of Jewish Enrichment

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