This is a time for new beginnings. There’s a New Year coming on the calendar, 2022. And the corresponding Hebrew month will also bring one of the Jewish New Years: Tu Bishvat, the New Year of Trees.
I think these dates have something in common. Our Sages established the New Year for trees, not when the trees were fully blooming or bearing fruit, but in the middle of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere), just when the sap begins to rise. Although branches are bare and the wind is cold, this is the time when the trees’ hidden potential begins to be realized.
Similarly, when Rosh Hashanah comes around in the fall, we don’t celebrate it at the shining light of the full moon, but at the dark sliver of the New Moon. On Rosh Hashanah, we recognize and celebrate the potential for all the good that we can strive for in the year ahead.
In our secular world, the past couple of years have been difficult ones, due to the pandemic and many other stressors on society. Still, I believe that we should celebrate all of the gradual improvements that we have experienced, and appreciate the seeds of good beginning to sprout around our world.
I have a new beginning, too! I’m delighted to announce that I’ve accepted a new position as full time religious leader of Seaside Jewish Community (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware), a wonderful, growing and thriving congregation of about 400 households engaged with spiritual and personal growth, learning, mutual support, and social justice. It’s also a fabulous location to learn about the ocean and observe and photograph the coastal environment with its abundant birds and wildlife.
Although I will be busy of course, I intend to keep this website going and gradually add to the Gateways. The newest one, the Gateway of Holy Land, is almost complete (I continue to add content and update the completed Gateway pages). I aspire to add one more Gateway in the catagory of Water, so that each “Portal” (earth, water, air, fire) has four Gateways to explore. I’m working with my web designer to make the pathways (posts) easier to navigate, and I continue to update and add to the completed ones.
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You can also find my nature photography for view (and for sale) at my other site, Inspired Images.
Blessings to all on this Winter Solstice. A wonderful Christmas to all my Christian friends, and a Happy New Year 2022 to all. May it be a year of growth and improvements for all who dwell on earth.
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan