Shevat Shalom, y’all! Honoring the Trees and Nature

January 12, 2024

Yup, you heard that right – as of yesterday, we began the Hebrew month of Shevat, and are preparing to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the birthday or new year of the trees! While we’re still in the depths of winter here in the Northeastern US, in the Middle East, the first blossoms of the fruit trees have already begun to bloom, and in many equatorial nations and in the global south, summer has arrived, and the trees are at their peak of beauty and fullness. 

In addition to preparing for Tu B’Shevat, I’ve had nature, and trees specifically, on my mind over the last few weeks because I just returned from a trip to Costa Rica. There, the rainy season is just giving way and the tropical trees – papaya, guava, pineapple and more! – are in their finest form. Not only did I deeply appreciate all the delicious produce, profoundly beautiful scenery and incredible wildlife while there, but I also learned about how Costa Rica has implemented some of the most progressive and proactive sustainability initiatives in the world. Over the last 30 years, Costa Rica has become the only tropical country to not only halt but completely reverse deforestation, and restore its rainforests that cover over 60% of the country! It’s no wonder Costa Rica has garnered international acclaim for its efforts, and it was such a privilege to see it firsthand.

Inspired by my time there even though we live in a vastly different physical and political landscape, my intention for this month of Shevat is to consider more ways to reduce my carbon footprint and be kind to the environment, and I hope you’ll join me. In honor of Tu B’Shevat, we have compiled this list of small actions that we can each take on to live a little more sustainably. Additionally, I hope you’ll join us for our Tu B’Shevat celebration at Shabbat B’Yachad, on Friday, January 26th, to celebrate the trees and give gratitude to the natural world which sustains us. 

Pura vida, and Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Queen