Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Green Day

From composting and juices to photography and Cynthia Ozick, 10 inventive ways to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees

Print Email
Tal Shochat, Untitled (from Awakening), 2005. (Courtesy of Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York.)

This Wednesday is Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday known as the New Year for Trees, which, regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil may or may not have seen, marks the beginning of spring in Israel. And wherever you are, there are many different ways to get inspired by the holiday.

Try a new fruit, late bloomers. One step at a time.

Test your nature knowledge. Then do it without Googling.

Have a Tu B’shevat Seder. An ancient Kabbalistic custom called for a Seder similar to the Passover meal to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, incorporating figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat, and barley—or some combination of all of them (think pilaf!)—and red and white wine. This tradition has been embraced by the Jewish student group Hillel, which offers free, downloadable materials to help you with your own DIY Tu B’Shevat Seder.

Resources for sustainable Seders abound, with most suggesting Seder hosts offer local foods and organic wine and, of course, recycle afterward. You should probably also go green—as in, paperless—with the invites.

Take a walk, and really pay attention to your surroundings. It might help to be listening to this Vox Tablet podcast about Jewish environmental activism.

Fig out. Take advantage of the nutritional benefits of the fig, Tu B’shevat’s mascot and a high-fiber source of detoxifying vitamins. Keep it healthy with these flaxseed, fig, and walnut crackers or indulge with this pecan macaroon and fig tart. Fig juice—blended, not juiced—can be tricky to make, since it’s not a particularly juicy fruit. Premade is always an option; this variety touts potassium, calcium, and iron.

Or sit back and make Ruth Reichl happy by ordering a jar of Fig and Olive Spread from online gourmanderie Gilt Taste. (These vegan, kosher, gluten-free coconut macaroons won’t arrive until after the holiday, but they’re probably still worth it.)

Make like a tree and compost. It’s not hard! Even urban dwellers can do it, with these new freezer bins. And you never know what might happen in your own backyard.

Go classic. Plant a tree in someone’s honor or in memory of a loved one, or gift a tree to be planted. Trees are, after all, the gift that keeps on giving.

Walk through Tal Schochat’s paradisiacal forest. The Israeli photographer shoots single trees against black backdrops, to stunning effect. Or what The New Yorker called “a set designer’s version of Eden—extravagantly bountiful but oddly unnatural.”

Read The Pagan Rabbi, Cynthia Ozick’s 1971 book of short stories, including the title story, in which a rabbi gets a little too intimate with nature.

See the film Tree of Life. Or don’t. For what it’s worth, Brad Pitt probably loves nature.

Happy Birthday, trees!

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Lili Kalish Gersch says:

Or check out these great “Every Person is a Tree” photos submitted by members of the Washington DC Jewish Community!!/media/set/?set=a.10151203293700043.800354.68884995042&type=3


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Green Day

From composting and juices to photography and Cynthia Ozick, 10 inventive ways to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees

More on Tablet:

Today in History: Carlin Performs ‘ Seven Words’

By Jonathan Zalman — Lenny Bruce’s ‘obscene’ routines inspired Carlin whose views on the politics of language remain influential