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New Moon of Adar II, Purim, and Nowruz

Happy Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) of Adar II! That's right, we've entered into the second month of Adar. We have two months of Adar this year because it's a leap year in the Jewish calendar. Though the Jewish calendar is considered a lunar calendar (because we count the dates based on the moon) the calendar is actually semi-solar because it's kept on track by the sun and the seasons. Certain holidays have to fall during certain seasons -- and Passover (which arrives next month on April 19th at sundown) must occur in the springtime. Having an extra month of Adar (7 times in every 19-year cycle) ensures that Passover will occur when it's supposed to (in springtime!).

Speaking of springtime, the first day of spring arrives on March 20th, the same night as the holiday Purim. The story of Purim, told in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Esther, takes place in Persia (modern day Iran). The first day of spring is also the Persian New Year, called Nowruz, which is celebrated with a feast of foods with special meanings. The Nowruz feast is similar to Passover Seder table or a Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder which also have special symbolic foods. Learn more about Nowruz with this cool video. There are even some theories that the Purim festival meal was originally a Nowruz feast eaten by the Jews who were celebrating the New Year in ancient Persia. I love learning about the seasons, holidays, and the connections between cultures. Last year at the Tasman family Passover seder in Louisville, KY, a dear friend of my parents shared about her family's Nowruz celebration and all of the special foods they ate (7 dishes which all start with the letter "s"). The number 7 is also special in Judaism and it was so cool to learn about the rituals of Nowruz and to draw connections with Jewish seasonal food rituals.

As we enter this second month of Adar, we have an opportunity to continue cultivating joy in our lives which is the theme of the month of Adar according to Jewish wisdom traditions. Sometimes it can feel hard to do that when we're stressed, sick, or the weather feels like spring will never get here. When joy feels hard to capture, I turn to gratitude. Thinking of the things for which we are grateful is a way to open up the heart towards joy. Pausing to take stock of the people, the opportunities, the basic necessities in our lives can inspire gratitude. The moments of kindness, connection, and support that come our way -- however small -- can be opportunities to notice and acknowledge and offer thanks.

Grateful for all of you!

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a month of joy, good health and blessings,

Rabbi Sarah