Tu B’Shevat or the “New Year of the Trees” is Jewish Arbor Day. The holiday is observed on the 15th (tu) of the Hebrew month of Shevat. Scholars believe that originally the holiday was an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. In the 17th century, Kabbalists created a ritual that is similar to a Passover Seder, which many Jews still hold a modern version of today. The holiday also has become a tree-planting festival in Israel, in which Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of loved ones and friends.
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Tu B’Shevat Seder
Join Rabbi Bellows and Dana Koren, UH’s Shinshinit, for a Tu B’Shevat Interactive Seder.
If you would like to participate in the seder above you will need the following:
Red/purple grape juice
White grape juice
Fruits with inedible outsides such as orange, banana, coconut
Fruits with a pit: such as peach, nectarine, dates
Fruits with edible inside and outside such as strawberries, blueberries, apples
What is Tu B’Shevat?
Honi The Circle Maker: A Tu B’Shevat Tale
Some Tu B’Shvat Seder/Celebration Suggestions
- Everything looks better by candlelight. There is no commandment to light festival candles for Tu B’Shevat. However, there is nothing forbidding lighting candles either, as long as they are lit before the Shabbat candles. Most of the fruit bearing trees and a great many of the plants we eat could not be pollinated without the help of a very large workforce of bees. The name Devorah, one of our judges and prophets, means bee. She was also known as “Eishet lapidot” the woman of torches or ‘fiery woman’. Lit beeswax candles are a lovely addition to the holiday.
- Rather than mixing wines, consider beginning with something light and white from a vineyard in Israel to symbolize the chill of winter. Your second glass could be sparkly and bubbly to represent the bubbles that flow under creeks and rivers when the water begins to melt. The third a rose wine, something soft and sweet and with the heady promise of spring. The forth glass a deep red, possibly a port, perhaps a dessert wine.
- Chocolate fondue! While we are celebrating the ways in which we can experience the natural world, as well as its inherent worth, what better way to get in the mood than by saying a bracha (blessing) for chocolate as we begin the meal, and then when we get to a bracha for a fruit or nut say it, taste it, and then continue through the seder enjoying more of that fruit or nut dipped in chocolate from a fondue pot sitting prominently on the seder/celebration table!
- Discussion about Judaism and environmental ethics.
Additional Tu B’Shevat Resources and Activities
PJ Library: Tu B’Shevat for Kids
ReformJudaism.org’s Tu B’Shevat page with customs, recipes and activities
Plant Israel at Home – Learn more about how Tu B’Shevat is celebrated in Israel and connect with Israel by planting wild flower seeds (from Israel) in your garden at home.
Bible Belt Balabusta: Eat a fruit, plant it’s seeds
26 Fruity and Delicious Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shevat
Tu B’Shevat Recipes from Jamie Geller
Everything Cookies from 18Doors