It always strikes me as odd that this holiday occurs during the middle of winter.  It would seem more appropriate to celebrate the birthday of the trees during any other time of the year when nature’s beauty and bounty are more visible and plentiful.  But maybe that’s exactly the point.  Tu B’shvat forces us, at a time of year when we are more inclined to stay indoors and sip hot chocolate around the fire to remember that we are blessed with God’s creation and without trees our lives could not be sustained.

The shame of it is that we all know that every day the condition of our planet worsens and worsens.  Over the course of history, human beings have done a good job of working the land and taking advantage of the earth’s resources but in the process we have done a poor job of protecting those resources.  The Torah teaches that those two things are not mutually exclusive.  We read in Genesis that God put Adam and Eve on this earth to both work and to protect at the same time- lovdah u’lshomrah.  God does not say the job would be easy but if we don’t start paying more attention to the protection side of the equation, our children and children’s children will be in serious trouble.

Each of us makes personal choices that have an effect on protecting the environment.  The cars we buy, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the bags we use, the trash we recycle, the charities we support, the politicians we vote for, even the stocks we choose all makes an impact.  One program that deals with this issue at the J is our Hazon Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Pre-purchase a “share” of produce and come to either J location each Wednesday June-October to pick up local, organic, pesticide free vegetables.  By supporting a local farmer that has a chemical free farm you can do a small part in helping to protect the earth and reduces your carbon footprint.  Registration deadline for the upcoming season is February 29 and for more information contact Diane Maier 314-44-23190

This Tu B’shvat, on the birthday of the trees, my prayer is that each of us find a way to be shomrei adamah, protectors of the earth.  As we work and enjoy all this wonderful world has to offer, so may we work to protect this world and its resources for future generations.