Tu B’Shvat 5781

This year, in celebration of Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees, we invite you to step away from screens and take a walk amongst trees. If the ground’s not too wet and you have the right clothing or a blanket, consider laying down somewhere that is forested or sitting on a log. Just sit and be. We have prepared an AUDIO PROGRAM to accompany you which you can download and take along – 15 minutes of poems and teachings to listen to out of doors, pausing after each text to drink in your surroundings. Rabbi Hannah, Alexis Kellum Creer and Martin Gotfrit hope you enjoy this beautifully wrought offering now and in time to come.
In 5781, Tu B’Shvat falls on January 28. Our tradition holds that from that day onward, Spring is springing forth!
Here’s a list of suggested locations for Forest Bathing in Vancouver and Nature Walk Ideas For Grown-Ups and Kids.
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Learn how to bake Carmel Tanaka’s unique Jewpanese Maple KaboChallah

An invitation from Carmel (pronouns: she/her): At the ripe old age of 27, I learned to bake my first challah. My teacher was none other than the late Robbie McConnell, former Publisher of the Montreal Gazette. Using his recipe as the foundation for my challah, join me in adding kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), courtesy of the one and only Kristin Eriko Posner of Nourish Co., and a splash of 100% “True North strong and free” maple syrup!
Register here by January 29 at noon to receive the recipe and ingredient list, and to receive the Zoom link.
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Shabbat Soul – February 12

All are welcome! Join via Zoom:


Meeting ID: 883 5053 1867
Passcode: 753561

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Rabbi Hannah’s Weekly Reflection

Bo El Paroh – Go, Confront the Pharaoh!

Ross and I were in Paris on Election Day in 2016. We went to sleep certain the election would go one way and awakened to a surreal world. Events of the past four years have been too horrific not to take seriously; nevertheless, it’s felt like a reality that just cannot be, nonsensical, absurd. I won’t say I slept through it, certainly not, but I did my best to dissociate from the voice of the American President. Now, yesterday and today, I feel something akin to what my colleague Rabbi Elyse Sydner Joseph meant when she wrote she’s ”getting up from shiva… tender, exhausted, shaky… tentatively ready to face life.”

This week’s Torah portion begins, after the suffering of plagues, with God’s insistence that Moses face the oppressor: Bo el Paroh – Go, to Pharaoh! Face him down! After prolonged darkness, with lapses of real hopelessness, and with many divides yet to be acknowledged, confronted and healed, the American people have prevailed against their Pharaoh with the resistance of Democratic process.

And at the inauguration, the world was gifted with words to lift the spirit, bringing hope into the center of the void. “Where can we find light?” asked poet Amanda Gorman, entreating us to lift our gazes, “not to what stands between us, but [to] what stands before us.” She reminded us all that we are always never broken, rather, simply unfinished – as humans who do teshuva, as communities that are self-critical and aspirational, as nations with the checks and balances that can right the course of our histories. And she challenged the nation with what our beloved Reb Zalman called “backward compatibility,” meaning a future that exemplifies the best of our past. “If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory [will] lie in the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise… the hill we climb if only we dare it, because being American is more than a pride we inherit – it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”

New freedom is portended in Torah and in U.S. history this week. And even as the pandemic rages, vaccines have begun to be distributed. A week from today we will celebrate Tu B’shvat, a change of seasons in our tradition when sap rises in our trees signaling blossoms and fruits to come. Amanda Gorman’s blessing speaks to me and I wish to channel it to you. May we, indeed, begin to “step out of the shade.” May we embody the agency she calls upon in us, “the new dawn bloom[ing] as we free it.”

“Where is the light?” she had asked. Our tradition would say, “wherever we let it in.” Similarly, the poet answers: “There is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

May it be so.

And a Sabbath of Renewal to All.

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