11 students plant trees in honor of Jewish holiday

By Shayna Freisleben

Despite threats of cancellation due to rain, 11 students and one faculty chaperone planted trees in honor of the Jewish holiday Tu B’shvat on Sunday at a TreePeople event in Sylmar. Tu B’shvat, which began on Sunday night, commemorates the “birthday of the trees.”

A “pod” of Community Council members coordinated the school’s participation in the event.

However, due to individual scheduling conflicts and illness, this was the first Community Council event in which no members actually attended.

The Community Council’s initial plans were to attend a TreePeople “Mountain Restoration” program in Calabasas on Sunday.

The event was ultimately cancelled on Saturday due to heavy rain, and the students were rerouted to the Sylmar tree planting around Swim Lake.

There were around 50 attendees total, according to event participant Jonathan Etra ’11.

The group of volunteers was welcomed by a rabbi, who explained the Jewish significance and celebration of the tree. Students then divided into smaller groups to plant trees around the park.

“It was cool to see so many people dedicated to one important cause,” Etra said.

Etra, an Orthodox Jew, enjoyed fusing aspects of his religion with a school community service project.

“I think it is always interesting celebrating a Jewish holiday or event with classmates from school because it gives me a chance to show who I am outside the classroom and get their views on it,” he said.

The Community Council pod that planned this particular event consisted of Sara Fleischman ’09, Ava Kofman ’10, Shelby Layne ’09 and Charlie Weintraub ’09. The group had been planning the event for about a month, Layne said.

The pod system was created at the beginning of the school year in order to maximize Council productivity and to cater to more specific community service interests. The Council has aimed to host community service events on each day of the weekend for the whole month of February.

“It takes a lot of work and a lot of coordination, but so far, the pod system has been really effective,” Layne said. “It’s a great way to allocate all of the jobs and balance responsibility.”