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Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Tu B'Shvat

In my new position with Odyssey Networks, I am learning about religious holidays and festivals that are new to me. Most recently I learned about Tu B'Shvat (pronounced too-bish-vat), the Jewish New Year of the Trees celebrated on the 15th of Sh'vat in the Hebrew calendar which this year was January 29th. The Union for Reform Judaism website calls Tu B'Shvat the "Jewish Arbor Day."

Rabbi Michael Kagan has a wonderful piece on Tu B'Shvat on the Odyssey website at http://www.odysseynetworks.org/Causes/TuBShevat/TuBShvatbyMichaelKagan/tabid/354/Default.aspx . I won't repeat his fine explanation here but it is accurate to say that Tu B'Shvat is an ancient holiday that has found new meaning with the modern State of Israel and their great agricultural success. Many celebrate Tu B'Shvat with a special Seder meal of fruits, nuts and red & white wines.

With Odyssey's continued cause-emphasis on peace and the environment, it seemed natural for us to take an inter-faith look at this wonderful festival day. Thus, we have produced a short video featuring a Jewish rabbi (Marcus Burstein), a Buddhist priest (Kenjitsu Nakagaki) and a Christian pastor (that would be me!). We recorded this video outside in a park near Odyssey's offices in the InterChurch Center in New York City on January 29th (in 0 degree weather!) You can view it online at http://www.odysseynetworks.org/Causes/TuBShevat/tabid/349/Default.aspx .

Also on our website Rabbi Arthur Waskow writes about the connections between Tu B'Shvat and the film "Avatar" at http://www.odysseynetworks.org/Causes/TuBShevat/tabid/349/ctl/Details/mid/1586/ItemID/12/Default.aspx .

All of this, once again, made me aware of how much people of faith, people of virtually any and all faiths, are more alike than we are different. We all wish for peace in our world and stand for the care of this earth. And for that, all I can do is thank God!

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