Cinderella and her big sis

Cinderella and her big sis

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Tu B'Shevat

   It's Tu B'Shevat! A holiday all about trees. We have been gearing up for this Jewish holiday for a few days now.  This weekend we went hiking with our Chavurah ( a small group of families from our temple that get together once a month.) at Casper's Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano and on Sunday we went to "Little Shul" , a class held for little kids to get them involved with Jewish traditions at an early age. We went and sang some songs about trees and painted birdhouses.  After that experience, Lil declared she was no longer going to be doctor when she grew up, but an artist.
     It's funny how Jewish I have become in the last few years.  I grew up in a household where my mom was Jewish and my father was Christian.  We celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas, and Passover and Easter.  I always joked how we always had a Star of David on our Christmas tree and matzoh in my Easter basket.  I didn't even know about the other Jewish holidays!  So now it has become important to me to learn about the Jewish faith and the customs that go with the different holidays as I teach them to my children.  I've been trying to look for a blog that would help me teach my children  about Judaism in a fun upbeat way, but I never found that , so maybe I will have to create that on my own and weave it some way into this one.
   So tonight we held our own Tu B'Shevat Seder.  If we look outside, the weather is telling us it's winter. In Israel right now, it is spring and trees are beginning to wake up from their winter sleep. It is a time when we celebrate the birthday of the trees.
    Trees give us so many things: fruit, shade, wood and clean air.  Trees are very important in Israel because Israel is a hot desert and the trees help to cool the land and keep water in the land.
     Our seder, tonight, was like a trip through the seasons. First, we drank white grape juice. This represents winter, when the ground becomes white with snow.  Before drinking, the blessing over the grape juice was said. We next made a blessing over a fruit, protected on the outside. Then we ate the clementine orange.

      We filled the cups next with a mixture of red and white grape juice in order to make a pink color, which represents spring. In Israel, this is the time that flowers begin to blossom.  We recited the blessing and drank the juice.  The second kind of fruit we ate was one in which we could eat the outside, but not the inside. We chose a cherry to represent this fruit.

     The third grape juice was red.  This represents summer.  Summer in Israel is poppy season, which are bright red.

  The fruit eaten next could be entirely eaten.  We chose blueberries for to represent this fruit. The appropriate blessings were said before drinking and eating.
    Lastly, the fourth cup of juice was dark grape juice.  This represents fall.
    Lil enjoyed drinking the sweet grape juice and tasting all the fruit. For her bedtime stories this evening , we read Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber and It's Tu B'Shevat  by Edie Stolts Zolkower.
    "Tu B'Shevat inspires us with the idea that, 'Man is like a tree of the field.' (D'vorim 20:19) Just as trees need roots to remain strong, faith keeps is connected to our Torah heritage. And just as trees benefit others with the fruit they provide, we strive to reach out and benefit others with our positive example and good deeds."--back flap of  Dear Tree.

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