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Why a Seder? Aren't those just for Passover?
The word "seder" means "order" and describes the order of service for a celebration. Most often associated with Passover, a seder is a wonderful way to celebrate a holiday with family and friends at home. Some form of the holiday Tu Bi'Shevat has been celebrated since ancient times. The idea of conducting a seder for Tu Bi'Shevat developed during the height of Jewish mystical creativity in the 16th century. The Kabbalists, or Jewish mystics, introduced this custom, based on the Passover seder, with symbolic foods, a festive meal and important ethical lessons blended into a wondrous and joyful celebration.

What do you need for the Seder?

Table setting:
The table for a Tu Bi'Shevat seder should be set in a festive way. It is said that in 16th century Safed, the city of Jewish mystics in Palestine, tables were set with white cloths, scented water and candles. You might decorate the table with flowers, branches, pine cones, stones or other natural objects from your area that remind you of your connection to the earth. This is a great place to be creative and involve children. You may wish to create a Tu Bi'Shevat seder plate, decorated for the holiday, on which to put symbolic foods.

 
Wine/grape juice: 
Four cups are drunk at the Tu Bi'Shevat seder. One white, one pink, one light red, one dark red. You can use different wines or juices, or you can mix in the following manner: the first cup is all white wine or juice. The second is white with a splash of red. The third is red with a splash of white and the fourth cup is all red. This progression marks the movement from the Winter through Spring, Summer and Fall, the renewal, growth and flowering of the earth and spirit.

Symbolic foods:
3 types of foods are eaten symbolically at the seder:

Fruits with inedible shells,such as nuts, oranges, grapefruit, pomegranates, coconuts
Fruits with inedible pits, such as dates, olives, apricots, peaches, plums/prunes Fruits that are entirely edible, such as fig, raisins, strawberry, apple, pear, carob

Festive Meal:
You may wish to plan the seder around a festive meal, possibly vegetarian.

The service:
There is no wrong way to celebrate a Tu Bi'Shevat seder. Feel free to bring in readings, music and ideas that reflect your own beliefs and ideas about the holiday. You may wish to ask people to bring a favorite reading or story on a nature theme to add to the seder. Every participant should have a copy of the readings and songs you will sing. Also, you can ask the children to think of a list of the fruits that have an inedible shell, etc., as you go through the seder. Some families plant indoor seeds or saplings on this day or include innovative ideas to involve children and friends. As with Passover, it is great to involve everyone in a "round robin" reading of the service.

Since there is no law regarding a Tu Bi'Shevat seder, this is a wonderful time to let your family's creativity blossom! 

Sample Outline of Tu Bi'Shevat Seder with Humanistic Jewish Blessings

1. Welcome/Explanation of Tu Bi'Shevat Seder
2. Candle Lighting:

Barookh ha-or ba'olam. Barookh ha-or ba'adam.
Barookh ha-or b'tu Bi'Shevat.

Radiant is the light in the world. Radiant is thelight in each person.
Radiant is the light of Tu Bi'Shevat.

3. Reading & Song
4. First Cup: White Wine/Juice

B'ruchim ha-shemesh, ha-geshem v'ha-aretz.

Blessed are the sun, the rain and the earth.

Bruchim ha-borim pri hagafen.

Blessed are those [things and people] that bring forth the fruit of the vine. (this blessing is repeated before drinking each cup of wine)

5. Reading & Song
6. Second Cup: White with a Splash of Red
7. First Fruit — inedible shell

B'ruchim ha-shemesh, ha-geshem v'ha-aretz.

Blessed are the sun, the rain and the earth.

B'ruchim ha-borim pri ha-aetz.

Blessed are those [things and people] that bring forth the fruit of the tree.
(This blessing is repeated before eating each fruit.)
Eat the fruit.

8. Reading & Song
9. Second Fruit — edible shell, inedible pit
10. Reading & Song
11. Third Fruit — entirely edible
12. Reading & Song
13. Third Cup: Red with a splash of white
14. Festive Meal
15. Fourth Cup: All red
16. Closing Song


 

 
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