Milestones, Tu BiShvat (Celebration of the Trees), and Purim

Tu BiShvat Seder—from left to right: Esta Goldstein, Renee Gills, Mike Marshall, Kim Schweitzer, and Larry Schweitzer (photo by Nate Einbund)

Melanie Einbund

Esta Goldstein, chair of the Institute of Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS), welcomed all to services. Her remarks were gracious as she spoke of our Rabbi, cantorial soloist, and accompanist. Esta introduced the board and their responsibilities to the congregation.

January services were officiated by Rabbi Sanford Seltzer. Rabbi reflected on the holiday of Tu BiShvat (Celebration of the Trees). The holiday celebrates trees but has also become an ecological holiday in Israel. Rabbi Seltzer also spoke about National Holocaust Day. The United States government selected the day that Auschwitz was liberated as the United States National Holocaust Day. In Israel the National Holocaust Day is the day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Sincerely speaking my thought is that no matter the date it is important to remember those who have passed in situations of violence, political expediency, or neglect.

Eliyanah Powers, cantorial soloist, and Harrison Sheckler, accompanist, are a supreme duo whose combination of sounds allows us to find peace and joy during our services.

Milestones are important, and we were able to celebrate two during our January service. Rita Pollack celebrated her birthday on Jan. 27. She was serenaded by her husband, Rabbi Seltzer, who sang ‘Erev Shel Shoshanim’ (an Israeli love song). Rabbi’s solo was received warmly, and many smiles were seen among the congregants. Ron and Arlene Solomon celebrated 63 years of marriage on Jan. 24. IJSS gives our congratulations to Arlene and Ron, a vibrant and caring couple.

IJSS held its first Tu BiShvat Seder on Feb. 5. The Seder celebrates trees by commemorating through prayer, songs, meditations, and poems. Foods represent those with an outer shell (walnuts, almonds), those with seeds (oranges, dates, apples, olives), and those that are soft (strawberries, figs). It was good to see many attend and learn about this Seder for the first time.

Purim is coming! The story of Esther and her saving of the Jewish people will be told! To celebrate, IJSS and the Jewish Friendship Group will hold two events, a Hamantaschen Bake and a Purim Spiel.

So, what is a Hamantaschen, you ask? It’s a baked pastry in a triangular shape whose center is jam or another sweet confection. And what is a Purim Spiel? A spiel is a long or fast speech of a story. The spiel will be dramatized by a cast of characters in costume. Purim is a time of fun and joviality. We will celebrate heartily.

March services will be held on March 24 at 7 p.m. Rabbi Seltzer and our liturgical staff will be leading our congregation. An Oneg will follow. If you wish to sponsor an Oneg for that special event, remembrance, or just plain celebration, contact Sherry Kaplan at [email protected].

IJSS is a small and welcoming congregation. We value our members and their needs. If you have questions or wish to join our congregation, please feel free to contact Esta Goldstein at 520-825-1181 or Seth Eisner at 520-818-6340 for information.

Wishing everyone a happy spring!