President’s February 2024 Column

“Planting time is only a few months away …”

As I sat at the Tu B’Shevat Seder, all I could think of is the weather outside. I know we were celebrating the “New Year of the Trees” or Jewish Arbor Day (celebrating the beginning of spring in Israel), but it seemed like our spring here in Iowa is a long way off. We have had one of the coldest spells in quite a few years during the last few weeks and plenty of snow to boot. I actually had to raise the temperature on my boiler to heat our house. Something I haven’t had to do since we moved here in 1999. Oh well, G_d works in mysterious ways.

If you haven’t attended the Tu B’Shevat Seder (rejoicing in the fruit of the tree and the fruit of the vine), you are missing out on a wonderful time. Not only do you get to drink 4 glasses of wine (starting out with white wine and ending with red wine), but there are noshes during the seder of pistachios, figs, dates, grapes, olives, and clementine tangerines. These have always been my favorite things to nibble on and to have a holiday where they are celebrated is fantastic!! The other thing that hit me in my wheelhouse is celebrating Trees! I love to plant trees and have done so for the last 40 years. There is something special when you can pick a plum, cherry, apple or pear directly off of a tree and eat it. It is fresh and juicy and full of natural sugar, and is reminder of our duty as Jews to be Shomrei Adamah, guardians of the earth. This seder connects us with the earth.

I want to thank the many TJ members who spent time planning, making soup, bringing bread, making deserts, setting up and cleaning up after the Seder. As usual, it was a great time!

I long for the days when we have warm weather again and I can plant a few more trees!

Brian D. Cohen