Sunday, January 5, 2014

Create a Personal Connection to Tu B'Shvat

Here's a question for you -- can you create a personal connection to Tu B'Shvat? Something that centers around trees? Perhaps you (and your students) are working on family trees? Even better, there's a surname in your family rooted to the word tree. For instance the last name Baum is a German Jewish name that literally means tree. Similarly, the name Nusbaum stands for nut tree and Baumgarten means a tree garden.

Why this question? It evolved from the fact that this year Tu B'Shvat has added meaning for me. With the recent birth and naming of our second grandchild I commented to my husband that "we now have two trees!"

Our grandson Alon is named for the mighty oak tree rooted to many stories in the Bible -- starting with a tree named the Oak of Abraham, where legend has it Abraham hosted the three angels. The saga continues today, with the trunk of that strong, impressive tree still standing -- with some help.

Four weeks ago our granddaughter Elah made her entrance into the world. The name Elah is associated with oak, pistachio and terebinth trees. Sounds like a multiple choice test, but this tree 
has a formidable presence as well. After all, the Valley of Elah -- where David fought Goliath -- is named after it. 

While I'm writing this post I'm smiling to myself. Our two grandchildren's names unintentionally continue a family tradition of naming progeny after Biblical trees. It began with my parents naming me Tamar -- the palm tree under which Deborah sat when she carried out her duties as a judge, and the same tree providing us with palm leaves for Sukkot. 

Am I barking up the right tree with my original question -- can you create a personal connection to Tu B'Shvat? There may be a new Tu B'Shvat custom that you can create around it.

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