Tu B’Shevat

The Jewish New Year for trees occuring on the 15th day of Shevat, hence the name Tu B’Shevat.

Tu B’Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year’s fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B’’Shevat, so if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins it second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B’Shevat

It is customary to  eat a new fruit on this day, or to eat from the Seven Species (shivat haminim)  described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel.   The Shivat Haminim are: wheat, barley,  grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey) (Deut. 8:8).  

The Tu B’Shevat Seder at Temple Israel is a very special time filled with song good food, good stories, and prayers.  Great for children, family and friends, it includes readings abouut trees, planting and nature, as well as the ingatherings of the Jewish exiles and the covenant of the people of Israel with God. What a wonderful way to introduce and reinforce the concept of Tikun Olam -caring for the world.    At the seder, we drink four cups of wine or grape juice. But unlike the Passover seder, the color of the wine is each cup is important, white for winter, white mixed with a bit of red for spring, red mixed with a bit of white for summer and all red for autumn. Three categories of fruits are eaten: fruits that are entirely edible, fruits with a pit and fruits with an inedible shell or peel. At the end of the Seder, each child plants a seed in a cup of soil to personally begin the planting for spring.