Feb 1, 2021  By Shari Berman  Category: Environment,

A seder in January?!

In honor of Tu BiShvat, the “New Year of Trees,” I started a new tradition - and threw together an extremely last minute Seder of sorts. I’ve hosted a traditional Passover Seder for many years, but this tradition is new, and I had to take advantage of the fruits we had available. The custom is to serve foods containing fruit, nuts, wheat and barley, and to serve them in a certain order. You are supposed to taste three categories of fruits or nuts: 1) those with inedible outer covering and edible inside (like melons, pomegranates, bananas, citrus, coconut), 2) those with edible outside, but inedible pit inside: dates, olives, plums, apples, pears, etc. and 3) those that are entirely edible: berries, figs, grapes, etc.

Had I been more prepared this would have been the perfect time after 10 months in a pandemic to add in four glasses of wine (or juice) representing the seasons: 1) white - symbolizing snows of winter, 2) golden - symbolizing sap beginning to flow in the trees or the earth’s awakening in early spring, 3) pink - symbolizing blossoming of late spring, and 4) and final cup of deep red wine - symbolizing the fullness of the growing plants and vegetation along with the heat of summer. I’ll also have figs and dates on hand next year, because apparently having sampled them at religious school Tu BiShvat Seders in the past, my 9 year old really likes them!

We “virtually” planted 4 trees in Israel to celebrate. Given last week was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we selected a tree-by-tree children of the Holocaust certificate in memory of the 1.5 million children who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this photo of Aidan taken on his last day studying at Alexander Muss High School in Israel on January 22, 2019. After packing the bus, but before heading to Mt. Hertzl Cemetery, the Kotel, Ben Yehuda Street, and finally the airport, on this appropriately named “Symbolic Day”, the first stop was Neot Kedunim where Aidan and his friends actually planted trees. Given AMHSI is owned by Jewish National Fund-USA, it was very appropriate, especially since their departure day happened to fall on Tu BiShvat. I love that Aidan and each of his friends left Israel one tree greener than they found it when they arrived two months prior.

Here’s the link for anyone interested in making the world a bit greener, and honoring or remembering a loved one in the process.