Tu Bishvat: Planting Seeds for a Brighter Future

By: Rabbi Lily Solochek

There are four Jewish New Years, yes, four! This week we celebrate Tu Bishvat, the New Year for the Trees. In Israel, the almond blossoms begin to appear and in colder climates the sap begins rising through the trees to end their winter hibernation and get ready for the Spring. In warmer climates many people mark Tu Bishvat by planting trees, and in colder climates where the ground is still covered in snow we start planting seeds inside, awaiting the ground to thaw. No matter where we are, there are always seeds – either literal or metaphorical – that we can plant to ensure a better future. 

When I was a child my Hebrew School class planted parsley seeds on Tu Bishvat to give them time to grow and be ready to harvest for Passover. We painted tiny terracotta pots, added our seeds and anxiously waited for them to sprout and grow over the next two months. Our seeds taught us to be caretakers: we watered them, placed them in sunny windows, and watched and waited. Our seeds also taught us that we have the knowledge and tools to grow food for ourselves and others to enjoy. Most importantly, these tiny parsley seeds taught us that no one and nothing is too small to make an impact.

As the new semester begins our campus chapters are beginning to plant their own seeds towards ending college hunger. They are back on campus hosting bakes, educating their communities about campus hunger, and advocating for policy changes that ensure no student has to choose between their education and a meal. Our community sites will be hosting challah bakes this spring for everyone from young children to adults, learning about the Jewish values of feeding the hungry and writing to their congressional representatives to ask for their support in ending hunger. Each of these acts are seeds that we plant to grow a better future. 

This Tu Bishvat I invite us to ask ourselves: what seeds am I planting to end college hunger? How can I be a caretaker of my community and help increase equitable access to food? The road to ending college food insecurity is long and hard, but no act is too small to make a difference. Each contribution to end college hunger is important and meaningful, even if it feels as small as a parsley seed. Whether you join us by baking challah, by educating your community about campus hunger, advocating for policy change, or by donating to Nazun, your contribution is meaningful. What impact and change do you want to make to end college hunger and what seeds will you plant and tend to now to help create that brighter future?