01 February 2018

New Year of the Trees

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

This week, we celebrated the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, which is also the New Year for the Trees. It is a time to celebrate the bounty and the beauty of our Earth and our connection to it. One of the ways people observe this holiday is through a seder. When we hear the word “seder,” many of us immediately think of Passover. But, over the centuries, several different seders have been developed for holidays, for Tu B’Shevat, and also for Rosh Hashanah. The Tu B’Shevat seder is unlike the one we conduct on Passover in many ways, but there are some key similarities as well; namely, that we drink 4 glasses of wine and that we have a seder plate. We drink the four cups of wine and eat different fruits and nuts connected to the four seasons and to God’s creation and presence in our world. This holiday helps us to remember the holiness of creation and the sacred connection we have to our world, which is beautifully articulated in Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav’s Prayer for Nature:

Grant me the ability to be alone;
may it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grass – among all growing things
and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer,
to talk with the One to whom I belong.
May I express there everything in my heart,
and may all the foliage of the field –
all grasses, trees, and plants –
awake at my coming,
to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer
so that my prayer and speech are made whole
through the life and spirit of all growing things,
which are made as one by their transcendent Source.
May I then pour out the words of my heart
before Your Presence like water, O God,
and lift up my hands to You in worship,
on my behalf, and that of my children!

About the Author

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Berezin - Assistant Rabbi

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. For the past two years, she has served as the Rabbi Educator at Central Reform Congregation, a vibrant congregation of 780 households in the city of St. Louis. Rabbi Berezin attended HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. She earned a Master of Arts in Jewish Education and was ordained in May of 2014. In addition to student pulpits at Temple Beth Torah, Temple Beth Shalom, Beth Knesset Bamidbar, and at the China Lake Naval Air and Weapons Station, Rabbi Berezin served as the Harold M. Schulweis Rabbinic Intern at Jewish World Watch, an organization that promotes education, advocacy and action around issues of genocide and mass atrocities. She had a second rabbinic internship at Our House Grief Support Center, providing pastoral care to both children and adults. Prior to her enrollment in rabbinic school, Rabbi Berezin attended Indiana University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies and a double minor in Hebrew and Psychology. Rabbi Berezin married Jared Berezin in 2016.

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