Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
One favorite dish of the Ashkenazim that survived the move from the shtetl to North America was the hearty mushroom-potato-barley soup called krupnick.
Here is the quintessential Jewish question: How do we emulate God? We are told that we were created by God. We are told that we have a divine spark within us.
"Tu" (the Hebrew abbreviation of 15th) in the month of Shvat was set (Hillel's opinion generally overrules Shammai's) as the beginning of the tithable year for tree fruit: Calculating the tithe on fruit starts again for fruit that sets after that date.
While my neighbors were putting their Christmas trees to the curb, in what seems like a ritual of replacement, I was preparing to plant for Tu BiShvat.
Tu BiShvat is a reminder that we spend our lives planting seeds. Time and effort are needed for our efforts to bear fruit. Wait patiently. One day, like the seed, we will be blessed.
Last year, my pre-school-aged daughter was acutely aware that her friends and their families would be celebrating Christmas and that she wasn’t going to be a part of it.