As Karin has reminded us, Tu B’Shvat (the new year holiday for the trees) is coming up in a couple weeks. This means that many people are gathering dried fruits and nuts (in a squirrel-like fashion), but it also means that others are planning a Tu B’Shvat seder.
What is a Tu B’Shvat seder?
The tradition of the Tu B’Shvat seder began during the Middle Ages, when the holiday was celebrated with a feast of fruits. It was later adapted by mystic kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria of Sfat into the form of a seder in which the fruits and trees of Israel were given symbolic meaning. The idea of this seder was that eating ten specific fruits and drinking four cups of wine in a specific order, while reciting appropriate blessings, would bring people and the world closer to spiritual perfection.
Today many religious and secular Jews celebrate this tradition. American organization Hazon, which works to “create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all” has made the holiday preparations a little easier for us by creating a download-able manual for hosting your own Tu B’Shvat seder.
Hazon suggests planning your seder months (or even a year) in advance. But if you’re reading this now… chances are you want to throw something last minute together. Have no fear, this is totally within the realm of possibility.
Here are some easy steps that you can start to take to organize your very own Tu B’Shvat seder:
Choose a location for the seder (try to choose one that is accessible via public transportation)
Invite guests (preferably in a paper-less way, such as Facebook)
Plan your menu and be sure to include fruits, nuts, and wine (whenever possible, choose local, organic food items; if you’re looking for creative fruit-dish ideas, start off with Hamutal’s Plum Buckle recipe)
Print Tu B’Shvat haggadot from the Hazon website (preferably on post consumer recycled paper)