TU B'SHEVAT SEDER, JANUARY 24, 2014

Introduction

Reader: Every 15th day of the Hebrew month Shevat, Jews gather together to remember the miracle of nature and celebrate our relationship to it. We are about to begin our Seder, to taste the fruits of God's creation and to reflect on our role in the world. Let all who hunger for knowledge and change come together to reflect on our partnership with the earth and our connection with nature. Tu B'Shevat is a time for us to remember our bond with the earth, and renew our covenant with God. Today, as we eat, sing, and pray together, let us envision a paradise that we are partners in, shaping, cultivating, and guarding.

All of the things we will eat today (including Ice Cream) have special meaning for us. Aside from ice cream, we will be eating several different kinds of fruits. Some of those fruits are hard on the outside and soft on the inside and some of them are the other way around—soft on the outside and hard on the inside. As you know people are exactly the same way. It is only after we get through the hard outside, that we can really come together as a community.

ALL SING: HINEI MAH TOV U'MA-NA-YIM SHE-VET ACHIM GAM YACHAD

The Four Questions:

1. It's winter. Why are we thinking about planting trees when spring is several months away?

2. Ordinarily we eat whatever fruit is in season. Why on this night do we eat fruits that are grown in Israel?

3. Other holidays honor events and people. Why does this event honor trees?

4. We sometimes take the environment for granted. Why, today do we focus on conservation?



ALL SING: TREE OF LIFE

Shalom, Shalom (4X)

It is a tree of life to them who hold fast to it,
and all its supporters are happy.

Shalom, Shalom (4X)



WINTER

Distribute oranges and vanilla ice cream

Question 1 - Why are we thinking about planting trees when spring is several months away?

It is still winter here, but in the Land of Israel and elsewhere in the world, the rainy season is ending and the planting season is beginning.

The early pioneers in the Land of Israel sang this song while they planted:

We have come up to the Land,
we have tilled the soil and sown the seeds,
but we have yet to harvest our crop.





AR-TZA A-LI-NU, AR-TZA A-LI-NU, AR-TZA A-LI-NU (2)
K'VAR CHA-RASH-NU V'GAM ZA-RA-NU (2)
A-VAL OD LO KA-TZAR-NU (2)

Oranges have a soft inside and a hard outside. Like the winter that is now cold and harsh, we will soon pass through it to find the beauty of spring and all of the things that spring has to offer.

As we recite the blessing we are reminded of the emptiness of the winter season, the same emptiness that existed before creation. Yet we are also reminded that just as God formed creation out of nothing, our winter landscape has the potential to one day change and our sleeping plants will again grow, thrive, and blossom into spring.

The blessing is said for the fruit of the tree.



Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam borei p'ri ha-etz

The white ice cream symbolizes the snow and cold of winter.

Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, through Whose word everything came to be
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam sh-ha-kol n-he-yeh beed-va-row







SPRING

Distribute mango and mint chocolate chip ice cream

Question 2 - Why on Tu B'shvat do we eat fruits that are grown in Israel?

On Tu B'Shevat, we especially eat fruits which grow in Israel, such as figs, dates, mangoes and almonds.

The Land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people. More than 3000 years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham, promising to make him a great nation and to give his descendants the Land of Israel. The Land of Israel has been important to Jews ever since.

Reader: Spring symbolizes the gradual process of rebirth and the transition of one year to the next. We remember that each new stream begins with a trickle, and each flower with a single bud.

Reader: As we recite this blessing we are reminded that although pits are often discarded they are the seeds, the means to rebirth. We eat these fruits to remind us that every flowering tree was once barren, every budding field once bare, and that the means to growth can sometimes come from the most overlooked of places.

The mango is soft on the outside and hard on the inside. This is symbolic of the fact that while a mango or a person may be soft or fragile to begin with, the inner seed (or pit) if cared for can grow into a wonderfully fruitful tree or person.

The bracha is said together for the mango and then we can eat.

The green mint chocolate chip ice cream symbolizes life, such as the budding of the trees in the spring.



Dayeinu - An environmental version

Had we planted a tree but not safeguarded our forests.. .Dayeinu? Would it be enough?
Had we safeguarded our forests, writing to Congress and asking for stricter logging restrictions but not cleaned up our streams...Dayeinu? Would it be enough?
Had we cleaned up our streams but not cleaned up our rivers.. .Dayeinu? Would it be enough?
Had we cleaned up our rivers but not taught our children about the importance of protecting our environment...Dayeinu? Would it be enough?

THE TEN (ENVIRONMENTAL) PLAGUES

1. WATER POLLUTION
2. AIR POLLUTION
3. PESTICIDES
4. TOXIC CHEMICALS
5. ACID RAIN

6. GLOBAL WARMING
7. OZONE DESTRUCTION
8. SOIL EROSION
9. DEFORESTATION
10. DESTRUCTION OF HABITAT

SUMMER

Distribute Grapes and Strawberry Ice Cream

Question 3 - Why do we have a holiday that honors trees?

Trees are a symbol of our investment in the future, and because they take so long to grow, planting them is the most selfless act one can make for their children. Trees give us shade and food; they purify our waters and house our wildlife. Honoring trees honors the investment of our ancestors and reminds us of our obligation to our children.

For all that they do, they are given very little credit and this day honors them and strengthens our often overlooked connection to the natural world.

Reader: In this section of our seder we eat a fruit that is entirely edible to remind us of the world's beauty. After each day of creation, God paused, looked at all of G-d's work, and remarked that it was good. As we taste this fruit we remember that although our lives may feel rushed, we too must pause to look at God's creations and learn to love and appreciate them.

Grapes are soft both on the inside and outside. Like a grape, our environment is very fragile and we must take excellent care of it. If we handle it the wrong way, we will likely hurt or crush it.

The bracha is said together for the grapes and then we can eat.

The next ice cream is strawberry because the best strawberries grow in the summer. In the summer we are able to enjoy less work, good times with friends, campfires, and barbeques.

FALL

Distribute Apples and Chocolate Ice Cream

Question 4 - Why is it important to focus on conservation?

There is a story told of a man named Honi. One day he saw an old man planting a tree. Honi said to him: "Foolish man, do you think you will live to eat and enjoy the fruit of the tree you plant today? It will not bear fruit for many, many years." The old man replied: "I found trees in the world when I was born. My grandparents planted them for me. Now I am planting for my grandchildren." And so Honi learned the importance of planting seeds for future generations.

Apples come directly from trees. They are hard both inside and out symbolizing the consistent role that God plays in our lives. The environment is God's creation and we only have the right to make use of it. We do not have the right to destroy it or abuse it. If you plant a tree or save a life (human or plant), it is as if you have saved the world.

God speaks:
"Adam, this is God. I have been leading you around the Garden of Eden for some time now. Why do you think that is? Take a long hard look at everything you see - my works of creation. Do you see how AMAZING they are? Take note of the excellence of my work! I created everything you see here for You. Adam - see to it that you do not spoil or destroy my world -for if you do there will be NOBODY to repair it after you. ..."



Chocolate ice cream symbolizes that even though leaves turn brown and seem to die in the fall, all good things are actually taking place. The leaves are changing colors and eventually turning brown, falling to the ground and fertilizing the trees soil. Chocolate can remind us that something so dark can be so sustaining, so nourishing.




The last cup of ice cream is eaten.



Conclusion

Reader: We have now concluded our seder. As we finish we remember that we have an obligation to care for the earth, to utilize it while at the same time preserving it for future generations. May the New Year be a year of growth; may it be a year of renewal; and may all our eyes be opened to the wonders of creation. May we come to appreciate everything that is around us and may we learn to build a brighter and better future for our children.

Meditation

Every part of the vegetable world is singing a song and bringing forth a secret of the divine mystery of creation. (Rav Kook)

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM !

ONE LONELY TREE (TO THE TUNE OF CHAD GADYA)

One lonely tree, One lonely tree

That my father bought for 2 zuzim
One lonely tree, One lonely tree

Then came the chill
and wilted the tree

That my father bought for 2 zuzim
One lonely tree, one lonely tree

Then came the snow,
That laid bare HA-ETZ

Right after the chill
that wilted the tree.
That my father bought for 2 zuzim
One lonely tree, one lonely tree

Then came the rains
And sprouting leaves

that melted the snow
right after the chill
that wilted the tree
That my father bought for 2 zuzim
One lonely tree, one lonely tree

Then came the sun and the tree grew lush

and chased away the rains,
that melted the snow
right after the chill
that wilted the tree
That my father bought for 2 zuzim
One lonely tree, one lonely tree

TURN TURN TURN:
(Words-adapted from the Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes, Music-Pete Seeger)

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

RETURN TO LIST OF SYNAGOGUE ACTIVITIES