Recently I was talking to a friend who is Jewish and celebrates the Biblical Fall Festivals. Seeing this change of season through her eyes and hearing her story really helped me put things into perspective. Not many Christians know what this season is about. Here’s what she had to say about why the Fall season is so special to her.
Fall… how do you know when fall is here? The kids are going back to school, the leaves on the trees changing colors, and all kinds of pumpkins are out on display.
But for me the fall feels different. My memories of fall take me back to my home, to my childhood, to my favorite part of the year: the celebration of the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashanah) followed by Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
I was born and raised in the Holy Land in a small village in the Jezreel valley near Nazareth called Beit Shearim. The town was established in 1936, by a small group of ideologically motivated young adults who loved the land, believed that tending the land would reconnect them to their religious roots, and the desire to build their future in the Promised Land. Two of those early pioneers who put their hearts into the growing small village were a newlywed couple: my grandparents. They started their own small farm, living in a small shed with their newborn son. Their labors, alongside the other founders of the community helped the village to flourish and become well-known for its great agricultural achievements.
As the years passed, my parents got married and moved to the family home in Beit Shearim, becoming the second generation to tend the Promised Land and created their own family who joined the growing community of Beit Shearim. My parents joined the family farm and established the Shor Nursery, that became a well-known nursery in Israel as well as in Europe.
As a child, I knew the fall was coming when I saw the big pomegranate tree in the back yard with its ripened fruits. Those big, delicious, red pomegranates were always the first sign of the fall and that Rosh Hashanah was coming. I remember eating pomegranates with my younger sister outside in the back yard every day after school.
It was our job to peel the pomegranates and collect the great tasty seeds to be put into the big, special dinner of Rosh Hashanah.
Now that I live here in the US, I find myself trying to give my kids the same experiences and the holiday spirit. I have tried to do it through sharing my own memories: the tastes and the smells of my childhood in a the small village in the Jezreel Valley. By doing so I have also tried to create some connection between them and the magnificent place that, for some, is the Land of God, the Promised Land, but for me is home. I believe that my home, the Holy Land, is a unique place that has a special place in every believer’s heart.
As third generation farmers, I believe that the best way to create a strong and meaningful connection to your land and faith, is through planting, and establish your roots in your own land. Although, physically being far from my home the Holy Land I’m doing my best to connect my kids to our roots and faith by bringing them a piece, a taste of their heritage.
I believe that concepts like tradition, symbolism, and faith are still relevant in today’s world. I believe that it can still be attractive and appealing to our children, providing them values, and showing them there is more in that world beyond smart phones and tablets. That just for a second, lift our heads and take a deep look inside, connect to our roots, our faith and the values we all cherish.