Tu B’Shevat celebration inspires rabbi’s lecture series

Posted Monday, Feb 1st, 2010
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jan 29, 2010 @ 11:36 PM

Judaism’s Arbor Day, known in Hebrew as Tu B’Shevat, will be celebrated today and a local rabbi is using the occasion as inspiration to start a lecture series.

Besides the “New Year for Trees” theme, Tu B’Shevat also points to the importance of securing the future by honoring the great people and things of the past.

Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg, spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavath Chesed in New London, is offering a six-week course titled “Portraits in Leadership: Timeless Tales for Inspired Living.” The classes will offered Wednesdays and Thursdays beginning this Wednesday.

The course will study the lives of piety giants such as Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus; Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, who rallied Jews after the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. and is considered the father of rabbinic Judaism; and Rabbi Judah The Prince, editor of the Mishnah, the books considered the bedrock of Jewish law and customs.

Looking to examples
“What better way to find guidance than from the wise example of others who encountered hardships and used them as the impetus for growth and change,” Sternberg wrote in a press release.

The classes are being offered under the auspices of international Chabad Lubavitch’s Jewish Learning Institute. Sternberg is director of Chabad of Eastern Connecticut.

The courses cost $79 per person and couples can participate for $142.20. The Wednesday sessions run from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. while the Thursday classes run from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. All classes are being held at Congregation Ahavath Chesed, 590 Montauk Ave. For more information, call (860) 437-8000.

Tu B’Shevat falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat and begins a three-month series of mid-month full moons that culminate in Passover. Purim occurs on the 14th of Adar (Feb. 28), the month after Shevat, and celebrates Jewish escape from a planned genocide in the Persian Empire. The Book of Esther is read on Purim and it foreshadows the rise and fall of Nazism. Passover is the festival of freedom and begins on the 15th of Nissan (March 30), the month following Adar.

Besides planting trees, Tu B’Shevat features eating fruits that Hebrew scriptures praise the Land of Israel for, including grapes, figs and pomegranates.

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