Tu B’shavat Seder and Rituals

Tu B’Shevat is a pretty cool holiday when you think about it.

Come on, we celebrate the earth, the trees, new fruit, give thanks to the land… How often do we really sit back and say, “Earth– Thanks!”  We can even say it is a time to stop and smell the roses, literally.  Seeing the beauty around us, from the new blossoms on tree branches to the spring rains and longer days.

Many homes have a Tu B’shvat seder, which literally means “order.”  Much like the Pesach seder, there is an order to this event of blessing new fruits.  For example, you should have fruits or nuts with an inedible outer shell and an edible inner core.  This would be an orange, pineapple, pomegranate or an almond.  The other would be a fruit with edible outer flesh and pithy, inedible cores such as an olive, apricot or cherry.  And finally, a fruit which is totally edible like a grape, strawberry or raspberry.

When I taught religious school, we would teach the students that the seder of the fruit is much like the personalities of a person.  Now, bear with me on this one please and follow along.

1.  Some people have a tough outer shell but a soft heart, a generous soul.

2. Some have a soft outer persona, but on the inside are strong.

3.  Some are “you get what you see” and there is no hiding.

I can place myself into one of these categories in a heartbeat, how about you?

And hey, if you want to wear a tough outer shell with an edible inner core I can always offer you a pomegranate necklace to wear!

pomegranate necklace
Pomegranate Necklace



Grinch That Stole the Bat Mitzvah?

I was a guest blogger on Your Jewish Speech this week. 

This week Bat Mitzvah Mom, Alissa, is our guest blogger.


A mother and a daughter’s idea of a Bat Mitzvah seems to be two different things.  Huh?  At least in my family it is!  You see I’m a Jewish mom who used to teach 6th grade Hebrew school for goodness sake.  For years I taught with the aim to inspire Bnei Mitzvah to continue their Jewish heritage and to be proud of their religion at the time of their coming of age.  The truth is, I am not so anti-the-ceremony as I am anti the big party.

We are Reform Jews in Los Angeles, so a Bat-Mitzvah is totally ordinary in our community.  All girls read from the Torah and give a speech the exact same as a boy of the age of 13.  All of my daughter’s friends are having a bat/bar mitzvah, and the friends are helping one another celebrate by first attending the ceremony and after the party.  Now, I am ready to sit up on the bima and smile and brag about my daughter’s love, I mean LOVE of Judaism!  I am ready to write a speech about her life and read it to the congregation.  But then, the celebration……..  I get squeamish even thinking about it.

My real plan was to go to Israel for three glorious weeks in the winter.  To have a small celebration there with the Israeli side of the family, and do a little dinner there, a little dancing, we’ll be at last with the family for an extended period of time and of course not for pure happy-celebrations.  However, my daughter says, “NO!” She prefers a party for the friends and family.  I am in a real dilemma, and can’t wrap my head around the idea of entertaining for five hours instead of spending three weeks abroad.

With my inner-issues of not wanting to celebrate with others, I am a little resentful of the whole idea now.  I do not particularly like spending money on other people, just to hear them say, “the music was too loud… the food was tasteless… the decorations were boring.”  I wonder if all parents feel this way?  I doubt it, since many mothers speak highly of the entire planning process.  I have yet to hear anyone say they don’t want to plan and entertain others.  I think I am the only one, the grinch who stole the Bat Mitzvah?