With Art, Fruit, and Inspiration, Chabad Young Professionals Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

What relevance do the shivas haminim have to everyday life? And how does one bring that message across to young Jewish adults caught in the hubbub of everyday life?

This past Tu B’Shvat, a large number of Chabad Young Professional shluchim coordinated together and hosted Tasteful Tones: A CYP Tu B’Shvat Experience that saw hundreds of young adults across the country come together and do just that: meaningfully engage with the message of the shivas haminim.

Coming from a unique and creative angle, this wasn’t just another lecture or social event. Instead, attendees were greeted with the sight of easels and paint materials, along with attractive fruit platters and other tree-themed elements. With the help of an instructor, participants painted related scenes while they learned about the message of the trees. Attractive cards with the lessons learned from each particular fruit were available throughout the room as well.

“We were actually planning on doing a paint night for some time now, but we weren’t sure how exactly to pull it off,” said Rabbi Yossi Freedman, who together with his wife Chaya co-directs Chabad Young Professionals of Cleveland. “When we saw that CYP International had prepared the entire event for us a la carte, we were pleasantly surprised. It was exactly the boost we needed to get it off the ground.”

Freedman, along with many other shluchim who did the same, took advantage of the ready-to-go materials. A full program guide created by the CYP team at Merkos 302, complete with instructions, recipes and customizable graphics, was made available, taking away much of the pre-event hustle a shliach is typically forced to endure.

The thoughtful planning and unique overall design paid off. “Baruch Hashem, the event was incredible. People saw the value in this unique event and a fair share of people who don’t otherwise come to such events showed up. It was so nice to be able to share with the young professionals such valuable lessons and Jewish experiences that stretch beyond typical events.

“In the current climate, people are quite selective with what they choose to do and where they go. Providing a quality experience that is meaningful and spiritual to boot is a most welcome opportunity.”

There’s something to that: people are looking for real experiences and meaningful engagement, and shluchim are working around the clock to provide just that—as they always have.

“The feedback from the paint night event was just incredible,” said Mrs. Tzippy Friedman, who together with her husband, Shmulik, co-directs Chabad Young Professionals of San Francisco. “It was actually quite impressive to see that people were excited about the message I shared at the event more than anything else. The idea that a person is like a tree and that we must have strong roots, foundations, and beliefs to bear fruit and influence others really resonated with people.

“I think it very much has to do with the setting. The whole experience of creating art and reaching into a space of deeper self-expression allowed people to connect with each other and the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.

This program, along with many other recent such initiatives are bringing together members of the young Jewish adult community in an ever-increasing amount of meaningful ways. “So many out there have written off the millennial community as disengaged or into more superficial things,” said Rabbi Beryl Frankel, director of CYP International. “An entire cohort of young adults just spent Shabbos in Crown Heights in an incredibly meaningful way, and now so many have now connected with deeper experiences like art and learning the message of Tu B’Shvat. It seems safe to say that these young adults are eager for such deep, meaningful experiences.”

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