What to eat on the birthday of the trees
By Leah Koenig for Keveller
Anyone who has hosted or attended a Tu Bishvat seder likely remembers a cornucopia of fruit on the table. This agricultural abundance can be somewhat confusing because, unlike Sukkot and Shavuot, Tu Bishvat is not associated with any particular harvest period. Instead, fruit's connection to Tu Bishvat is more metaphysical. As Lesli Koppelman Ross writes:
On Tu Bishvat it is traditional to eat fruit associated with the land of Israel. The "classical" fruits are the seven species described in Deuteronomy 8:8, "a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey." Since leaving Palestine, Jews throughout the world have maintained connections with the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat by eating fruits produced there.
In other words, eating the fruits associated with Israel--even if they are out of season--helps root the holiday in the land where it originated. Additionally, the kabbalists, who helped re-imagine Tu Bishvat's celebration in 16th century Safed, developed practices of ritualized fruit consumption as a tool for spiritual elevation.
For those people who are less interested in kabbalistic ritual, serving a fruit-inspired dinner on Tu Bishvat--either after the seder, in lieu of a seder, or on the Shabbat closest to the holiday--can be a great way to honor Tu Bishvat's agricultural roots. To get you started, the two menus below (one meat, one vegetarian), feature fruit in every course. B'teavon!