By Rielle Miller Gabriel, Temple Micah President
We are blessed as Jews to have multiple opportunities throughout the year to celebrate a new start. My family’s favorite of the four Jewish New Years is this season’s Tu B’shevat. Each year we hold a Tu B’shevat seder, moving through the four seasons via representative food, and wine (and grape juice), and a festive meal celebrating the seven species. I especially look forward to the opportunity to try a new food. This is an important part of our seder. One of us picks a fruit, vegetable, or spice we have never tried before, and we introduce it to the family. We try to learn about where the new food comes from and, if we can, what culture features this food. It’s a great opportunity to not only open our palates to something new, but also to open our minds and hearts to the wider world.
I’ve come to appreciate this annual reminder of how we all move through different seasons in life. Sometimes, we are in the thick of things and our bounties are plentiful. Other times, we have to let things end so that we can be ready for the new opportunities coming our way. And, as at our Tu B’shevat seder, sometimes we all need a little push to try something new.
Our Temple Micah Board also has a seasonal cycle. There is an annual refresh of officers after our congregation-wide annual meeting. We move on to our board retreat, planning our priorities for the year. Then we start our monthly board meetings in late summer, with a close-out of the prior year’s finances and an update from our Cemetery Committee. Through the fall we hear updates from our other Board committees and get Machon Micah updates from our education staff. In winter, we start preparing for next year’s budget by checking in on key initiatives such as Storefront and Sukkat Shalom. Our springtime budgeting process starts; we find our Nominating Committee so that by our May meeting we have both a budget and a slate of candidates ready for the Annual Meeting in June — making ourselves ready to start the cycle again.
Every now and then something happens and our Board is given a push. This often results in extra off-cycle meetings, like this winter’s special meeting to discuss multiple communications from our members about how, as a congregation, we might address the Israel-Gaza war. Our Board reviewed members’ requests and suggestions. We also evaluated how we are putting into action our Roadmap’s lever of “Tackle Tough Conversations.” This discussion was itself a “tough conversation” for us, leaving us with more questions than answers.
When we try something new — like at our Tu B’shevat seder — sometimes it’s instantly enjoyable. Sometimes, we know immediately it’s not for us. And sometimes, it takes a few more bites to figure it out. What’s most important is that we are open to the newness, to the uncertainty, and to the experience of trying something for the first time.
Wishing you a happy new year and lots of new foods, and experiences, in your future!
This article originally appeared in the January/March 2024 issue of the Vine.