TuBishvat (January 17, 2022) is a celebration of the beginning of a new and plentiful harvest season – when the rains have stopped and the trees begin a new cycle. It is a moment to step back and look at the blessings to come, appreciate our earth and its abundance, and consider how we plan to set our roots in the upcoming year. Being on the BINA Gap Year, and working with my chanichim throughout the last 4 months, I can easily say that I have never seen growth so up close. In the preschool I work in, I see children who started the year with no knowledge of Hebrew speak to me in whimsical, long-winded sentences. In the children’s community center where I work in the evenings, I teach the kids card games I’ve known for years – only for them to beat me mercilessly at the same games a week later. I have stepped into some of the harshest neighborhoods and situations I have ever come across in my life, and met some of the cleverest and most capable kids. I am so thankful for the growth that I have been able to see, but I am terrified of the fact that I will not always be here to do so.
Making Suvganyot for Hannukah at the Gan, so much chocolate everywhere 🙂
Tu Bishvat is not just about enjoying the delicious fruits of the trees or marking the start of a new season, it is about the idea that we are cultivating something for generations. I am a tiny piece in the lives of the kids I meet, but if I can be a fleeting voice of confidence or support – then this is my way of setting roots. The youth that I work with on BINA Gap Year (South Tel Aviv) are living in rough circumstances. Their neighborhoods reflect the low socioeconomic standing of its inhabitants, many of my chanichim come from families of refugees or asylum seekers that are not entitled to the same rights as an average Israeli citizen. It was daunting at first stepping into a world so different than my own, but as soon as I met my chanichim I was beyond grateful to be in their world.
The party we hold on the last Thursday of the month for my children’s community center, it’s always full of bubbles!
I feel fulfilled that I get to influence some part of their lives, make them feel protected or uplifted for a moment. They are my act of cultivation, not so they depend on me but rather that when I leave, they feel empowered for the future ahead. It is a Jewish responsibility to work towards a better future for all, in Tu Bishvat we are reminded to sow the seeds that will outlive us. It has been a challenging start to the New Year, not seeing my chanichim because of quarantine periods has been hard. I am thankful for my Communa, the friendships that have grown, and I am thankful for my own resilience as well. I’m ready to shake off the rain and get to work anew, to be inspired by amazing children who will hopefully live in the much better world to come.
// Talia Zamir