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Tu BiShvat

On Jewish Arbor Day, a.k.a. Tu BiShvat, it’s customary to eat the fruits and nuts that grow on trees in Israel. The holiday’s seven species (sheva minim) are wheat, barley, grapes (wine), figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, since almond trees are the first ones to flower in Israel at the time of the holiday.

Marinated Olives

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Olives and oranges are often combined in foods of the Mediterranean. Here the ingredients almost call out their location as foods of Morocco and Spain are joined to create a great nibble at cocktail parties, as a part of a meze or tapas assortment.

On Tu Bishvat it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year.

Ingredients: 
8 ounces garlic-stuffed green olives, drained
1 medium orange
1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely snipped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera) or sweet paprika
1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish or Italian
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Place drained olives in a 1-quart glass bowl.
  2. Remove the zest, or peel, from the oranges with a zester, creating long thin strands. Add to the olives.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to coat olives well. If olives appear too dry, add 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice to the mixture.
  4. Return olives to their original container and chill, preferably overnight.
  5. Serve as part of a mixed platter of mezes with wine and cheese.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • In general, I prefer the fine, featherlight shards of orange peel (or zest) that you get from using a rasplike grater. However, in this recipe the zest is used for color and variety of shape in addition to being a flavor enhancement.
  • A zester is a 5-inch tool with a slightly curved metal head that has five or six holes at the top that create strands of citrus peel when scraped along the fruit.
  •  If garlic-stuffed olives are not available, pitted olives may be substituted, with 2 large, finely diced cloves of garlic added to the mix.

Sadie is determined to plant a tree for Tu BiShvat, the birthday of the trees. She imagines one that will eventually grow big enough to hold a swing and yield crunchy, sweet apples. Unfortunately, it is winter where she lives – but she keeps on trying. 

Deluxe Buckwheat Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling

This moist almond cake has a delicate nut flavor that pairs perfectly with the raspberry preserve filling. Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. Kasha comes from the buckwheat plant, which belongs to the same family as rhubarb. Though it looks and cooks like a grain, it's actually the seed of a fruit. After roasting, buckwheat is called kasha. 

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups skin-on sliced almonds
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light buckwheat flour
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
10- inch round paper lace doily
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Oil bottom of 9 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pan and line with waxed paper. Finely grind almonds in food processor, blender or nut-chopper.
  • In large bowl, cream butter and 6 tablespoons sugar. Beat in yolks, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and almonds.
  • In medium bowl, beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks; gradually add remaining sugar, beating until soft, glossy peaks form. Lightly fold 1/4 beaten whites into batter. Sift 1/4 flour over batter; combine lightly. Alternately add remaining whites and flour in this manner.
  • Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes; remove from pan.
  • When cool, slice horizontally into 2 layers. Place bottom layer, cut side up, on plate; spread with preserves. Top with remaining layer, cut side down. Place doily on top; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar; remove doily.

     

“Happy birthday to trees! Happy birthday to trees!” Yes, that’s Lila from Shaboom! singing and tree-hugging to kick off a short lesson about Tu BiShvat

How much do you know about the Jewish holiday of Tu BiSvhat? Take this quiz, if you are up to the challenge.

You may have heard of a Passover seder, but did you know that many people celebrate Tu BiShvat with seders also? Learn about how to host your own Tu BiShvat seder.

Enjoy reading this Tu BiShvat story with your children, then download the printable version for them to create their own story booklet. Use the spaces provided to let them make their own illustrations.

On Tu BiShvat, we celebrate the “New Year of the Trees.” This holiday, which falls on the 15th day (tu) of the Hebrew month of Shvat, is also known as the birthday of the trees. We say “Happy birthday” and “Happy new year” to the trees sprouting up after winter and to the flowers beginning to bud in eager anticipation of the spring

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