Shevat 5777

The promise of Spring…


Chodesh Tov! Even in the depths of winter, there is the promise of Spring. According to one opinion in Jewish tradition, we celebrate the New Year for the Trees – Tu B’shevat – on the 15th day of Shevat because that is when, deep inside the trees, the new life begins. The sap – the liquid that carries the nutrients inside the tree –  begins to rise, starting the process that will soon bring us leaves and fruit. Even though there is still no outward sign that the winter is ending, if we look deep inside we can see that Spring is on its way.



(Picture Credit: Pixabay)

This is a profoundly hopeful way to look at the world, to see the potential for growth and rebirth even when things appear to be cold and uncertain. As you prepare to celebrate Tu B’shevat, we hope that you will find it an opportunity to celebrate and bring that message to your colleagues and your communities. In last month’s newsletter we offered lots of good links to Shevat resources so it isn’t too late to plan a Tu B’shevat Seder or other activity that will brighten up your winter days.


Even though Purim is still six weeks away, we are already preparing. Yesod is here to help you, and so this month we are delighted to offer you a new Yesod podcast focused on the multiple meanings of Purim. Rabbi David Levin-Kruss asks “How do we tell a story?” and in just 14 minutes presents four different ways that Jewish tradition answers that question in relation to the Purim story (also known as the “Megillah”).

Where does the Purim story begin and what might we be able to leave out? David shows us four approaches to this question that represent four different perspectives on Jewish history and our personal understanding of the Purim story. Listen to the podcast to understand multiple opinions on the meaning of Purim for us today. Download the accompanying source sheet and follow along with the debate.

download podcast download Source Sheet

How to Use the Podcast


For Yourself

Simply listen and gain some new insights on the meaning of Purim. Ask yourself what Purim means to you and how you see your own life. Is Purim:


With your Colleagues or Team

Listen to the podcast together and follow along with the source sheet. Make sure you understand the four opinions debated in the Mishnah and Talmud about what parts of the Megillah must be read and what can be left out.


(Picture Credit: My Jewish Learning)

(Picture Credit: My Jewish Learning)

With your learners or group you are working with – teenagers and up


General Purim Resources

The Purim basics – including holiday mitzvot and customs, food and much more.


Alephbeta – Excellent animated videos with in-depth learning about the Purim story and its complexities. Note that it is possible to watch a limited number of videos for free, before needing to subscribe.

The World Purim Album – from Beit Hatfutsot. Check out photographs of Jews in Purim costumes from all around the world, in the past and present. Upload pictures of your students and community in costume and add to the album.


(Picture Credit: The Cookie Fairy Blog)


Purim Resources from the National Library of Israel– including Megillot and other items from their collection, with guides for discussions and activities.


For more about storytelling, check out these links and look at the Megillah in comparison with other great stories: