In the middle of winter in the FSU, Jewish communities throughout the region celebrated Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the trees, in anticipation of the blossoming of spring. Tu BiShvat marks the time when the first blossoms on the almond trees begin to appear in Israel. It is symbolic of the cycle of the year, the cycle of our lives and how, even when all we see are dormant branches, we know that the tree is preparing to begin its cycle anew.
The Jewish women of Bryansk, Russia gathered together for an evening dedicated to self-care, creativity and health. The first presenter spoke about skin care, teaching the women interesting techniques using makeup and other skin care products. The next presenter taught the women interesting fruit presentation ideas, turning an everyday fruit bowl into a work of art. Then another presenter showed the women how to make their own moisturizing creams at home using natural products and oils. Lastly, a doctor spoke with the women about self-care and keeping healthy.
This is only one example of the hundreds of gatherings and celebrations that took place throughout the FSU. Men, women, children and teens enjoyed unique programs geared towards them, sharing the message of rebirth and growth, while forming a deeper connection to Judaism and the Land of Israel.
Parents in FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ educational network, were invited to watch their kindergartners dance and sing joyfully. School-aged children learned about nature while planting their own plants in preparation for spring. They were taught about how a Jew is compared to a tree, the stronger the tree’s roots, the stronger and healthier it is, making it less susceptible it is to damage and disease. So too, when a Jew has a strong connection with his roots, he is stronger and is able to lead a healthier and more wholesome Jewish life.
Men and women enjoyed interesting classes, lectures, programs, events, concerts and more, all celebrating Tu BiShvat within a happy environment of fellowship and community.
The 40+ EnerJew branches throughout the FSU planned inspiring and innovative programing for the teens. Every teen left the program feeling a deeper connection to the Land of Israel and a strong sense of Jewish pride and identity.
The energy of Tu BiShvat was felt in every synagogue and Jewish Community Center, in cities and towns, large and small throughout the Former Soviet Union.