Tu B’Shvat Shabbat

Tu B’shvat is the Jewish holiday for trees 🌳. If you want to incorporate the holiday’s themes into your Shabbat dinners this month, begin by celebrating some of the beautiful foods that come from trees, from fruit and nuts to all the aromatic spices. Download Hazon’s Tu B’shvat Haggadah and host a mini seder, just like Passover.

The seder breaks the four cups of wine down with 4 types of food to enjoy during your meal:

  1. Fruit with an inedible outer shell like citrus, all nuts, sabras, bananas, or pineapples
  2. Fruit with inedible cores like apricots, cherries, dates, olives, peaches, and plums
  3. Entirely edible fruit like figs, kumquats, persimmons, and star fruit
  4. Inedible fruit, or aromatics

I like to see this breakdown as a challenge to come up with the most creative menu. I’m thinking of a citrus and nut topped salad for first course, perhaps a dried fruit rice pilaf for second, date honey glazed fish for my entree, and cinnamon (it’s a tree bark- crazy, right?!) topped cookies for dessert.

To enjoy all of these tree foods, remember that someone planted a tree many years ago for you to enjoy now. To plant a tree is to dream, to plan for future generations, and to do something that you yourself may never benefit from. Similarly, Shabbat is a time to dream about a world that can be, to step out of our daily routine and take a long-view of our lives. On Shabbat, we sing Psalm 126 as a part of the blessing after eating, which speaks of the Jewish people as dreamers. You may know it as Shir Ha Ma’alot. Consider literally planting seeds with your guests at your next Shabbat dinner. The process of watching things grow can keep you grounded in different cycles of time and growth, and can help you remember that seeds, like life goals, dreams, and progress take time — but we can begin by planting those seeds for ourselves.


1 wide mouth mason jar per person
1 bag basil seeds
1 bag dirt
Rocks for healthy irrigation
Whatever paper/signs/crafts you want to decorate!

1. Pre-mix your dirt with water until its well-moistened, this will make planting easier, new potting soil takes on a lot more water than you’d expect, and a perfectly prepared jar will shrink and your seeds may scatter if the soil is dry when you plant. Allow each person to place rocks in the bottom of their jar to create a drainage system for excess water.

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2. Add a layer of dirt up to a quarter inch from the top of the jar (I should have gone higher).

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3. Sprinkle in a few seeds. Depending on the size, 3-5 will suffice.

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4. Cover lightly with a ¼ inch dirt. As you cover your seeds, ask guests to go around and share a goal they have for this year, and what “seeds” they are planting now to make their goal possible.

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5. Add a little water.

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6. Get creative and decorate!

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7. Create a group text to share growing pictures after your meal, share your plants progress, and perhaps your own towards your long-term goal. Accountability is one of the most important factors to make change.

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2 months later, I decided to “top” my plant, to encourage fuller, bushier growth. This mean you pinch off the top at a node – splitting point. Make sure you pinch off above at least the 3rd node.

2.5 weeks later, you can see two new shoots popping up where I topped it

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Inspired? Click here to create a dinner or apply to become a host.

Amanda was the JOFEE fellow for OneTable, bringing food justice, sustainability, and Jewish food values to the Shabbat dinner table. Amanda has a Master’s in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts from GW. This position was made possible by a grant from The Morningstar Foundation and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, through Hazon’s JOFEE fellowship program.

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