THE JEWISH NEW YEAR for the trees comes when the earliest-blooming trees in Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. This holiday, called Tu B’Shevat, reminds us that the Earth is a precious gift.
Tu B’Shevat is celebrated by planting saplings and participating in a meal or seder with fruits, nuts, and wine (or grape juice).
HISTORY OF TU B’SHEVAT SEDERS
The Tu B’Shevat seder is an evolving tradition. It has become a way to savor and appreciate the bounty of this world and to give thanks for all the ways in which the trees provide food, shelter, beauty, air, and valuable life lessons.
In the 16th century, Kabbalists, the Jewish mystics, reinvigorated Tu B’Shevat by creating a seder with songs, readings, wine and fruits. Like the Passover seder, this one uses experiential learning, four cups of wine, and special foods. Many families today are celebrating this holiday with a seder.
IDEAS FOR FAMILIES
This Tu B’Shevat, consider holding a seder with your family. There is no “right” way to hold one of these seders, but the ideas below will get you started.
- A Family-Friendly Seder (PDF)
The Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Rekindle Shabbat program offers this walk-through for a short, family-friendly Tu B’Shevat seder.
- About the Tu Bishvat Seder
MyJewishLearning.com explains the history and varying texts and traditions for the Tu B’Shevat seder, “a ritual is that is still in flux.”
- Seder Resource Center
The Jewish environmental group Hazon offers a whole host of family-friendly Tu B’Shevat seder resources, including activities, resources, recipes, and more.
January 7, 2013