Shabbat candle lighting: 5:45pm

Tu B'Shevat: Bloom Where You Are Planted

By Sherri Zaslow, Park Heights Community Wellness Coordinator for LifeBridge Health 

This is a special time of the year! While most people living in the midst of a Baltimore winter see bare trees, barren ground and lifeless fields. We all have the opportunity to see lush foliage, greenery, colorful fruits and vibrant blossoms. 

The trees barely look alive, and there are way too many gray sky days and cold temperatures. Spring seems a long way off. On top of the winter doldrums, we are dealing with isolation and a pandemic that feels interminable. But we have the wondrous ability to see a dynamic alternate reality! 

We just celebrated Rosh Chodesh Shevat, and that means Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the trees, will be here by the time the moon is full and bright. This is such a unique way we are connected to the land and G-d; we are told to count the “birthday” of fruit trees as we are not to harvest them until after the third year. If you merit to be in Eretz Yisroel this time of the year, it is a marvelous sight to behold the lovely almond blossoms in shades of pink, white, & rose as the harbinger of Spring. 

Yet here we are, gazing out our windows longingly at branches with lone brittle leaves or none at all. The trees seem lifeless and inert. Truth be told, many of us may feel the same way.

Gaining awareness of the latent life and vibrancy on the inside of those trees, which causes them to mature and flourish as Spring arrives, helps us to integrate this truth into ourselves. The beauty is developing privately and will manifest on the outside as time passes. This is the way of genuine growth.

Physical, social and emotional wellness needs support to develop and blossom, not so different from those trees which need nutrients, water and sun.

We have a tremendous opportunity to use this time of year to find the support we need to help light our path. Whatever we need towards increased wellness is so worth discovering and using. Our own Jewish Community Centers, LifeBridge Health and Jewish Community Services offer a wide array of classes, support groups, health series, professionals and events we can access in our quest towards gaining and maintaining wellness on all fronts.

As I look at those bare branches outside my own window, I see so much potential readying for what will come next. On Tu B’Shevat join me in celebrating the trees, celebrate what can blossom from them……and from each of us!