In the darkest and coldest months of winter, Judaism invites us to celebrate the renewal of trees with the holiday of Tu b’Shevat. We celebrate the promise of spring and plant seeds with the hopes that new life will soon emerge. This is the holiday of hope! For some, hope is able to take root more easily than others, but this season can be a time to affirm our faith in the power of life to renew itself.
There are many ways to celebrate Tu b’Shevat. It could be that we plant a tree, either locally or in Israel. It could be that we reflect on the holiday more metaphorically – what seeds are we planting in our lives, our relationships and in our community?
If we attend a Tu b’Shevat Seder and we eat the traditional fruits and seeds, we may ask ourselves, in what ways do the fruits with peels remind us of ourselves, with our own defenses? How do the completely edible fruits reflect our capacity to be open and trusting?
Jewish Hospital and KentuckyOne Health are celebrating the holiday of Tu b’Shevat in two important ways. On January 25, we are launching our downtown campus Green Team, to increase and expand our recycling efforts and reduce our carbon footprint. We are hosting a big educational “green fair,” to celebrate Tu b’Shevat, educating staff about this holiday, as well as raising awareness about the importance of good stewardship.
We also are very proud to be planting seeds of hope in our community in a very profound and sacred way. We just launched a new initiative, “Pivot to Peace,” funded thanks to the generosity of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, the Gheens Foundation and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
“Pivot to Peace” is an exciting, new, evidence-based initiative aimed at reducing gunshot violence in our city. This program will provide counseling and support to victims of violence, to treat, not only the physical wound, but the underlying systemic issues that led to the violence, linking individuals to community resources, providing counseling and job search support. Research shows that the moment a victim of violence arrives at the Emergency Department is the most pivotal moment of intervention, in order to break the cycle of violence and pivot them to peace.
We are very proud of the creative, innovative and cutting edge initiatives that we are developing, to plant seeds of hope in our community. May peace and renewal come soon and speedily — to our world, our community and to each resident of this fragile planet that we call home.