26/27 January 2024, 17 Sh’vat 5784

This week is Tu B’Shevat. This really just means the 15th Shevat – the date in the Hebrew calendar for the New Year for trees. We have other kinds of New Years: Nisan is the first month; Rosh Hashanah is the Head of the year; there was one for Kings and Queens too. But on this day we connect with trees. For all of us who don’t cultivate orchards,  it feels anachronistic in a way. Most of us just tend our gardens or appreciate the trees in Kenwood, Trent Park or even Dollis Brook. After Storm Isha there has been significant damage to and by trees. Trees are among us. There are so many Jewish teachings about trees. This festival calls on us to be awake and alive to our environment.

“Take care not to spoil or destroy My world,” says another midrash, “for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah)

We often lose touch with nature and the importance  of our trees. Last Sunday, Anthony and I walked the entirety of Regent’s Canal, all 10 miles of it, passing trees growing through unlikely patches of cement by the water. We did a little picking up litter ahead of Tu B’Shevat. My friend Rabbi Janet Burden apparently spotted her first snowdrop near the canal in Paddington.

Our plans for FPS are built upon a concern to be more environmentally friendly, more responsible, more caring. To secure our building’s future, we will be leaning in to that and, of course, planting trees.

Keep looking at our plans – and that auspicious tree at our new entrance, using our up-cycled door. (Click here for link to plans)

I hope we will manage a congregational walk like this one, or a swim, or a communal planting – all to help us ensure we can do this renewal and repair. Don’t forget all donations will be matched for another 8 days.

Shabbat Shalom,