“Acts of kindness never die. They linger in the memory, giving life to other acts in return. “

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Z”L
Dear friends,

Tu B’Shevat or the “birthday” of fruit trees begins this Sunday evening. In ancient times, Tu B’Shevat served as a date on the calendar to help farmers determine when the fourth year of fruit production from recently planted trees should be brought to the Temple as an offering. In more recent times, Tu B’Shevat has become akin to a Jewish "Earth Day," emphasizing all kinds of actions and activism related to the environment. 

Read this recent Ottawa Jewish E-Bulletin article about the start of a youth climate program in Ottawa. The story also includes links to local Tu B’Shevat celebrations.
Just as we celebrate and think about our relationship with the environment and our responsibility to it, now is also a good time to think about how our actions impact others. 

Accordingly, I want to draw your attention to two other recent articles in the E-Bulletin. The Ottawa Kosher Soup Registry is a new community initiative created through a special partnership between the Ottawa Kosher Foodies Facebook group, NCSY and Congregation Beit Tikvah, that allows people to receive soup when they are sick or to send soup to someone who is unwell.

The second article speaks about all the organizations offering a helping hand to those who are struggling right now, including Ten Yad, which helps individuals and families during life-altering situations, such as illness and hospitalization. And of course, our dedicated clergy. who are available for pastoral care to anyone in need and can do so in English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Russian and Yiddish.
February 14-20 is Kindness Week. To help honour the legacy of Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Z"L, The Jewish Federation of Ottawa is offering Microgrants to community members who need funds to get an idea off the ground and who want to actively participate in making the world a better place. Ideas include: 

  • Have your friends collect winter socks and hats for Jewish Family Services, Street Smart program;
  • Organize a food drive for the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank;
  • Build kindness kits for seniors living in isolation.

The Microgrant process is easy. Visit here for more info. I can’t wait to see the incredible projects people undertake!
Thanks to Wikipedia, I just learned that in keeping with the idea of Tu B’Shevat marking the revival of nature, many of Israel's major institutions chose this day for their inauguration. Examples include the cornerstone-laying of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion and the Knesset. 

Why should this be limited to major institutions? Each of us can create our own unique cornerstone project or achievement this Tu B’Shevat. Even with pandemic fatigue, it is invigorating and elevating to help others and/or the environment. What will your personal cornerstone be and can you partner with others to achieve it? 

Shabbat Shalom,
P.S. For some, one of the challenges of the pandemic is boredom, there are simply not enough opportunities for stimulation and connection with others (even virtual). To add some Saturday night entertainment, please consider joining the Community Kahoot and Havdalah, this Saturday at 7:15 pm. Join us at 7 pm if you need tech help! Feel free to register and perhaps you will be one of the prize winners in this family-friendly competition!