Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Tu B'Shevat, all!

It's a bit past Tu B'Shevat, but we had a lovely Tu B'Shevat seder with Students for a Just and Stable Future (and other friends!).

Our seder focused on four themes: Jewish social justice teachings on environmentalism, including ecokashrut; environmental justice, including the work done by Alternatives for Community and Environment in Roxbury; the role of trees in Palestinian justice, including the implications of the JNF; and the action of campus divestment activists against fossil fuels, like those in SJSF at Harvard.

If you're interested in a copy of the entire haggadah, please email us and we will send it on. Here is the introduction to our haggadah:

Maimonides reminds us, “In order to serve God, one needs access to the enjoyment of the beauties of nature—meadows full of flowers, majestic mountains, flowing rivers. For all these are essential to the spiritual development of even the holiest of people.”

The origin of Tu B’Shvat in the Torah was a time for renewal of our commitment to God and sharing of the yield of the land with the poor. Today we celebrate Tu B’Shvat also for renewal of our commitment to serve and protect the trees and all of God’s creation. As those who care about justice and preservation, not only for nature but for all peoples that inhabit this world, we have adapted this Tu B’Shvat seder so that we make take this time to consider and reconsider our interactions with trees, with nature, and with the environment—and how those interactions may and do shape the lives of those around us.

The Tu B’Shvat seder is arranged around the Four Worlds: Atzilut, the world of emanation; Briyah, the world of creation; Yetzirah, the world of formation; and Assiyah, the world of action. Each of the worlds also symbolizes a season: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. In this seder, during each of the four worlds, we will drink another glass of wine and eat symbolic fruits. At the same time, during each of the four worlds, we will consider another way in which we may reflect on justice this Tu B’Shvat: first, Jewish social justice teachings about nature; second, environmental justice in our own Boston community; third, the role of trees in promoting injustices in Israel and Palestine; and finally, the actions of students taken to combat climate change.

We hope that these readings will inspire us, as young people, to think about our own role in perpetuating, critiquing, halting, and reversing the destructive processes of environmental injustice, climate destruction, and displacement.

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