Happy Tu BiShvat!

Today is Tu BiShvat – the fifteenth day of the month Shvat – the “new year” for trees, the Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day, or, if you will, the original “Earth Day.”  The flowering of the almond tree, which grows wild around the country, coincides with Tu BiShvat.  Don’t ask how this happens…whatever the weather has been – stormy or fair, cold or hot – the blossoms on the almond tree suddenly appear on Tu BiShvat.  Very cool.  The holiday generally falls on the second full moon before Passover, or, in a leap year, the third full moon before Passover.

In the Middle Ages, Tu BiShvat was celebrated with a feast of fruits. In the 16th century,  a Tu BiShvat seder was instituted in which the fruits and trees of Israel were given symbolic meaning. The main idea was that eating specific fruits and drinking four cups of wine in a specific order while reciting the appropriate blessings would bring human beings, and the world, closer to spiritual perfection.

In Israel today, the Tu BiShvat seder has been revived, and is now celebrated by many Jews, religious and secular.   Special haggadot have been written for this purpose.   During the seder service itself, the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised in the Bible (figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes or raisins, wheat and barley) generally play starring roles along side the four cups of wine.  Treats of dried fruits and nuts are everywhere.

Many celebrate the day as an agricultural holiday.  Children traditionally plant trees around their schools.   This year the  celebrations will span 3 days in Israel, as the country “goes green“.

The holiday has special significance following the disastrous fire last month.  Jewish National Fund Chairman Efi Stenzler has stated “Our response to the Carmel fire is that this year’s Tu BiShvat celebrations will be biggest since the State was founded. We will plant 1.5 million trees.”   The Speaker of the Israeli Knesset. MK Reuven Rivlin, announced that the official governmental 2011 Tu BiShvat tree planting ceremony will be held today in the Carmel Forest, near where the fire first broke out.   In addition, it is a chance to educate.  According to Dr. Omri Bonneh, the northern director for the JNF, the tragedy will afford an opportunity to educate local communities in how to become good stewards of the forest.

Want a special recipe to enjoy on Tu BiShvat?  Here’s a 15-fruit salad that is very appropriate.  (Why 15?  Because it’s the 15th of the month, of course!!)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • green apple
  • red apple
  • orange
  • tangerine
  • clementine
  • pear
  • persimmon
  • kiwi
  • banana
  • red grapes
  • grapefruit
  • pummelo
  • pomegranate
  • tangerine
  • canned pineapple
  • orange juice

Preparation:

1. Cut up the 15 fruits into a fruit salad.
2. Add a few tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice.

 

Have a good day.    Reflect on your connection to the planet.    Plant a tree.   Enjoy playing in the dirt.


 

Advertisements

One Response to “Happy Tu BiShvat!”

  1. Sara Says:

    Happy Tu BiShevat! I’ll try to eat some olives today. I’m such a bad Jew 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: