We love Judaism’s “quirky” holidays, such as a new year celebration for trees – or Tu b’Shevat – which begins this Friday evening and continuing into Shabbat. The holiday, which has its roots in the Jewish laws of tithing, has evolved into an ecological awareness day, with children in Israel traditionally planting trees on the day, and here in the US, similar environment-oriented programs. In fact Tu b’Shevat seems to fit perfectly with the growing trend for all things “green” and our desire for more knowledge about our food’s provenance.
Another tradition that has become increasingly popular in recent years is that of the Tu b’Shevat seder, a ritual dating from the Middle Ages, with strong kabbalistic influences. If concern began setting in at the mention of the word “seder” about the amount of work involved, breath a sigh of relief. This seder is really more of a dessert reception, highlighting the fruits of Israel, such as dates, figs, pomegranate and carob – either dried or fresh, depending on availability and what’s in season. So other fruits you may think about serving could be persimmons, kiwis, blood oranges, or any other citrus fruit.
Sticking with seasonal fruit ties in the agricultural and ecological aspects of the holiday, both which values have become increasingly important in our increasingly technology-oriented society. So take the time this year to organize a Tu b’Shevat seder, or join one of the many taking place across the Metro area – at synagogues and community centers. You’ll find all the details you need on our Community Calendar!
Happy Tu b’Shevat!