Blueberries and Judaism

October 2018 Newsletter Article

First – The membership survey is being sent by email very shortly.  It will give each of you an opportunity to tell us what we are doing well, where we can improve, and where to focus our resources in the future.  We hope every one of you will fill out the survey.

Next – I’d like to share something personal I spoke about at Rosh Hashanah, when I said I’d realized recently that blueberries are a fantastic metaphor for Judaism!

This hit me a few days after we got back from a trip.  Here’s what happened: we got home, I took a few days to get caught up on laundry, etc. and then I looked up the hours for blueberry picking at my favorite farm.

Let me interrupt my story for some background –

During the season, I go to the farm to pick every week.  I really love to pick blueberries.  I like being outdoors, I like knowing that the berries are local, and I like that I’ve got a connection to them because…I picked each one.  I feel entitled to bring home as many as I want because, again, I put in the work.  My family never has a problem eating as many as get picked.  This was especially true when our kids were home.  Years ago, like lots of parents, we’d take the kids to pick apples and blueberries. 

Blueberries were our family’s clear choice.  As the kids got older, they still wanted to eat the berries, but being dragged to the blueberry patch was not on their list of favorite things to do.  I stopped picking berries, I guess, for a few years – things were busy and it wasn’t worth the fight.  But then, I decided to go by myself once.  It was a little lonely, knowing my family didn’t want to join me…though I found they were just as eager as ever to help eat them!  I turned it into a challenge to see if I, by myself, could pick enough berries to satisfy the whole family.  So, there I was for a half hour every week or so, picking berries.  I started to spot the solo adults I’d never noticed before.  These days my husband joins me more often, but I’m comfortable going by myself. So, back to a couple of weeks ago.  I’d caught up on laundry after our trip, checked out the picking hours at the blueberry patch, and DEVESTATING NEWS – found out the picking season had ended.  I don’t know which day, and maybe I’d have been able to go one last time if I’d checked right away when we got home.  No way to know at this point.  I have to wait until next July.

I find a lot of parallels between my blueberry picking and my relationship to Judaism.

  • First, the season passes by whether I’m paying attention or not. Let’s be mindful of opportunities to feel part of Congregation Shalom and not unintentionally let them pass us by.
  • Next – I started going blueberry picking because I thought it would enrich my kids and, as they lost interest, I stopped too. Sound familiar?  Sometimes it felt that the only connection I had with Congregation Shalom was for the sake of my kids.
  • It took me a while, but I found my way back to the blueberry bushes. If you can find your own personal reasons to come here, then you will.  As a parent of teens, I had to find my own ways to connect with the temple.
  • To me, the blueberries are like the fruit to be gleaned from Judaism – perhaps it’s religious or spiritual growth, maybe friendship or social ties, learning something new, or a sense of contributing to something bigger than yourself.For every person reading this, there may be a different “fruit” to glean from Judaism.
  • I may go blueberry picking alone, but if you step into our temple you are not alone. Judaism is personal, but it’s also a communal experience.

I have to wait nearly a year for the next local ripe blueberries. Luckily for all of us, Judaism is year-round.  Lots of things are happening now – new schedules of events from Sisterhood and Adult Ed and the Shalomites – but there’s no season for Judaism.

A connection works best if both sides reach out. Congregation Shalom is looking for new ways to reach out to you.  I hope my blueberry analogy might motivate you to find reasons to reach towards us.


Joanna Myers