Tu B’Shevat is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar that has a pretty big place in my heart. While it is not noted in the Torah, it is a Kabbalistic holiday that celebrates the new year for trees in Israel as well as the rainy part of Israel’s agricultural season.
For a bit of context, the second Shabbat dinner I ever attended was a cross-campus Tu B’Shevat Seder at the University of Minnesota Hillel. I’ll be honest, for my second Shabbat ever, it was a little bit confusing. That’s probably why I’m still trying to find my way around this holiday today.
The second Tu B’Shevat I celebrated was in Israel. Yes, it was very cool.
Our Birthright group was there over the holiday so we observed it by planting trees with children at a school, and then by eating the seven species of fruits in an empty classroom.
My third Tu B’Shevat was an eight course wine dinner at our synagogue. So, just a little bit more elaborate than the first two celebrations were.
And this year, Marcus and I decided to observe Tu B’Shevat with our friends Danny and Laura. For whatever reason, weeknight dinners have just been massively easier to plan with them than weekends and conveniently, the holiday fell on a Tuesday this year.
For dinner, we made it through six of the seven species mentioned in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:8. The species: Dates, Almonds, Pomegranates, Grapes, Barley, Wheat and Olives. All delicious foods to eat, but it did require just a bit of thinking.
Our meal: Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds and Pomegranate Seeds, Grapes, Barley Pilaf with Currants, Olive Chicken and some unpictured Vermont Maple Cupcakes with Maple Frosting (AKA grain) . Figs will just have to wait until next year. We also cracked open a bottle of Merlot that I received as a conversion gift just over five years ago.
While we did not set out any sort of readings or order for our dinner, it was an abundant meal shared by four people enjoying a special night in an otherwise ordinary week.