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Dear Sha’are Shalom family,
This coming Sunday night into Monday we will celebrate T”u Bishevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, that is the New Year for trees. After the 15th of Shevat, a new year of tree produce begins, and our ancestors would tithe the tree produce and donate a percentage to the Temple.
For us today, T”u Bishevat is still a holiday that raises our awareness of trees and their many gifts to the environment. It is also a holiday that encourages us to be aware and active stewards of nature: plant life, animal life, water and other resources.
Please save the date for next Shabbat, February 11th, when we will celebrate T”u Bishevat season with a guest speaker from the Jewish National Fund.
We will also call attention next Shabbat to Jewish Disability, Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion month (JDAIM). Every February, the Respectability organization sponsors this month long event whose mission is, “…to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be accepted and included in all aspects of Jewish and community life like anyone else.” (For a short introduction to JDAIM, see this video https://vimeo.com/766928764.)
Our special guest for JDAIM next Saturday will be Billie Jo Bevan from Legacy Farms. For a preview of their amazing work with neurodiverse individuals take a look at their website https://www.legacyfarmsvirginia.org.
Now let’s look at THIS Shabbat’s event! This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah, the Shabbat of Song, and it’s the time we sing about the miracle at the Sea of Reeds. When the people cross to the opposite side of the Sea, our ancestors are finally free from Egypt and ready to begin their journey to Mount Sinai and beyond. Join us tomorrow for a unique Torah reading that involves the congregation in the chanting of these miraculous events.