JNF Tu b'Shevat returns to festival format

The Arizona Region of the Jewish National Fund is returning to a festival format for its annual community Tu b'Shevat celebration.

The newly named Tu BishvatFEST will be held noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

JNF has held community Tu b'Shevat events - usually in the form of a festival - since 2000 but switched to a Walk around Tempe Town Lake in 2010 and 2011. "People liked the walk but wanted a festival, too," said Rosemary Stralser, who is co-chairing the event with Cantor Sharona Feller, in a press release. "Given the choice, everyone preferred a community festival."

So far, more than 25 Jewish agencies have signed up to participate, including ShabbatLuck, The Merge, Valley Beit Midrash and Young Jewish Phoenix, who are teaming up to oversee a new Kosher Beer Garden. The event will also feature recreational and educational activities, crafts, environmental booths and retail vendors and Israeli dancing, wine tasting, music and food. There will also be a ceremonial tree planting featuring dignitaries from the U.S. Forest Service and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. Society columnist Kathy Shayna Shocket will be the emcee.

As in previous years, the U.S. Forest Service is the title sponsor of the event. Jewish News is a media sponsor.

This year, JNF is inviting everyone to buy a tree at jnf.org/tubishvatfest before the festival; the first 250 people to purchase a tree will receive a free gift from the JNF tent at the festival.

Admission is free. Proceeds will support the planting of trees in Israel and the Ramon Air Force Base Constructed Wetlands Project. Visit jnf.org/tubishvatfest or call JNF, 602-277-4800.

Solel 'big top' fundraiser

Temple Solel and The Solel Preschool will present a joint fundraiser, "Cirque du SOLELabration" Saturday, Feb. 4, at Chaparral Suites Scottsdale, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road.

The event includes a hosted cocktail hour, dinner, a performance, and silent and live auctions. Cocktail attire is suggested.

Tickets are $85 through Jan. 4 and $100 afterward. Purchase tickets online at templesolel.org or call 480-991-7414. Discount room rates are available for event attendees. Visit templesolel.org/solelabration.

Schanerman still singing

Susan Schanerman, the education director at Temple Emanuel of Tempe who had announced that she would step down from her role as cantorial soloist at the end of 2011, has decided to continue. "She changed her mind after reflecting further on her love of Jewish music and exploring new ways to better manage her personal and work commitments," according to an announcement in the temple's December newsletter. "We welcome her choice to continue to lead our music program."

Forum on faith, conflict

Lawrence Bell, executive director of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, will be the Jewish voice at the "Faith and International Conflict" forum sponsored by the Arizona Interfaith Movement, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St., Phoenix.

The forum will be moderated by Tex Sample, the Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor Emeritus of Church and Society of the Saint Paul School of Theology. Other speakers include Warren Stuart, representing the Christian faith, and Sid Shahid, representing the Muslim faith.

The free program is over lunch, and people are welcome to bring their lunches.

Call 602-261-6703.

An evening of Mussar

"Seeing Your Life as a Soul Journey," presented by the Deutsch Family Shalom Center, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Temple Chai, 4645 E. Marilyn Road, Phoenix.

The free event features author Alan Morinis, founder and dean of The Mussar Institute, who will discuss the soul perspective, described as a key insight that can transform one's life. According to the organization's website, mussarinstitute.org, Mussar is "a path of contemplative practices and exercises ... to help an individual soul to pinpoint and then to break through the barriers that surround and obstruct the flow of inner light in our lives."

Morinis' most recent book is "Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar."

Contact Sharona Silverman, 602-971-1234, ext. 280, or ssilverman@templechai.com.

- Leisah Woldoff

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