Finding the star within this Rosh Hashanah
Every Jewish holiday is filled with rituals and traditions. For some, Rosh Hashanah means synagogue and shofar; for most, it also means apples and honey. For our family, the following wonderful story is part of our holiday celebration. It is included here in somewhat shortened version — please credit Peninnah and Rachayl as you make it as long or short as your storytelling skills allow.
The Apple Tree’s Discovery by Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis
In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall and majestic, there was a little apple tree. One night the little apple tree looked up at the sky and saw the stars in the sky, which appeared to be hanging on the branches of the oak trees.
“Oh, God, oh God,” whispered the little apple tree. “How lucky those oak trees are to have such beautiful stars hanging on their branches. I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”
God looked down at the little apple tree and said gently, “Have patience, little apple tree.”
Time passed. Tiny white and pink apple blossoms appeared on the branches of the little apple tree. People walked by the little apple tree and admired its beautiful blossoms. But night after night, the little apple tree looked up at the sky with the millions, and millions of stars and cried out, “Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars in my tree and on my branches.”
And God looked down at the little apple tree and said, “You already have gifts. Isn’t it enough to have shade to offer people, and fragrant blossoms, and branches for birds to rest on?”
The apple tree sighed and answered simply, “Dear God, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that is not special enough! What I really want more than anything in the world is to have stars on my branches!” God smiled and answered, “Be patient, little apple tree.”
The seasons changed again. Soon the apple tree was filled with many beautiful apples. And still, when night came to the forest, the apple tree looked at the stars in the oak trees and called out, “Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”
And God asked, “But apple tree, isn’t it enough that you now have such wonderful apples to offer people? Doesn’t that make you feel special?”
Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by shaking its branches. At that moment, God caused a wind to blow. From the top of the apple tree an apple fell. When it hit the ground, it split open. “Look,” commanded God, “look inside yourself. What do you see?”
The little apple tree looked down and saw that right in the middle of the apple — was a star. And the apple tree answered, “A star! I have a star!”
And God laughed a gentle laugh and added, “So you do have stars on your branches. They’ve been there all along, you just didn’t know it.”
Epilogue: Usually when we cut an apple, we do so by holding the apple with its stem up. But to find its star, we must turn it on its side. Likewise, if we change our direction a little bit, we too can find the spark that ignites the star inside each of us Look carefully, look closely, and you’ll find that beautiful star.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in Dallas.