Remembrance, Renewal, and Resistance
When i first realized that as we were winding down International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Tu B’Shevat would be beginning, i was sure I’d ignore the overlap and treat them as two separate days. Creating a connection between Israel’s celebration of New Year for the Trees and the Holocaust simply seemed too big a stretch.
But in Judaism there aren’t many coincidences.
Traditionally, we mark Tu B’Shevat through the planting of trees. Planting a tree represents putting down roots and future growth, as it is not for us to enjoy but for our children and their children. It is an act of resilience and of hope. And when paired with the Holocaust, that symbolism is an act of defiance and rebellion against a world that sought to destroy us.
This year, in honor of Tu B’Shevat, let us tell our children stories of the Jewish partisan fighters in the forests of Eastern Europe, who depended on the trees for their survival. Stories of ometz (courage), tikvah (hope), and amidut (resilience). Let us pair some of the worst stories of our near past with the hope the annual renewal of the blooming almond trees propels.
The pairing of Holocaust Remembrance Day with one of the Jewish New Year celebrations is no coincidence and it is powerful indeed.