It was a celebration of the trees, but the seeds being planted had more to do with educating children.
Temple Emanu-El hosted its annual Strawberry Fields Shabbat at Hunsader Farms on Jan. 20. The group gathered under the oak trees to sing, share stories, play and pray.
Rabbi Michael Shefrin asked all the children who attended to join him in some yoga poses.
First, they crouched to the ground pretending they were seeds. Then, they stood tall like the trees and swayed with the wind.
The group sang, clapped and danced along to several songs. After speeding up the lyrics to “Gili Gili Good Shabbat,” the rabbi’s 6-year-old son Jacob Shefrin shouted to his father, “I can sing it faster than you!”
Shefrin told the story of “The Carob Tree” to illustrate the importance of planting seeds for the future. In the story, a little boy named Honi sees an old woman planting a carob tree and doesn’t see the point if she won’t be here in 70 years to see the tree fully mature.
“We plant trees and take care of the earth and learn from our families,” he told the children. “It’s so important to do all of those things especially around the birthday of the trees.”
The families wandered through the farm’s petting zoo and took a train ride. The first train was delayed when it wouldn’t start, but the conductor quickly fixed the problem. He pulled up his pickup truck, gave the train a jumpstart and the group was off.
“Shabbat is the most special day of the week,” Shefrin said. “It’s so nice to celebrate together in this beautiful place. This is the week where every year Jewish people celebrate the birthday of the trees."