Let’s Bring Tu Bishvat Into The 21 Century!
The holiday of Tu Bishvat (or Tu bishevat) always summoned to mind a couple of boring dried fruits on a paper plate given to us as ten year old kids in yeshivah. It wasn’t really very exciting, and I particularly remember almost breaking a baby tooth as we tried to bite off a bit of the dried black hard-as-a-rock carob boxer strip that was touted as a special new fruit by our teachers. Being one of the producers of The Sephardic Heritage Museum film project, I had the honor of interviewing over 300 community members, many of whom remember celebrating the exciting holiday of Tu Bishvat way back in Syria. I was astounded to hear that the now pandemonium holiday of Purim was a mere passing around of Syrian pastries like Samboosak and Graybeh to their neighbors, but Tu Bishvat or “Id Il Jar” (pronounced Eed El Jar- the holiday of trees) was the one holiday that the children and parents alike truly looked forward to. Every year, a month before the holiday, the moms started to sew luxe velvet bags with a drawstring that would soon contain exotic fruits that the children had never seen before. We take our pineapples, watermelons, and mangos for granted nowadays, but I doubt that there were carts in the souk in Aleppo that exhorted these wonderful sweet new treats. I was told that it would take the adults weeks to seek out and save these fruits to excite the children and keep the memories of the Tu Bishvat holiday alive.
Upon speaking to one of my Tu Bishvat bakers (below), Margalit Dweck, I was astounded to hear that she and her husband have a Tu Bishvat dessert “seder” table every year on the eve of the holiday (this year Tu Bishvat falls on Friday evening, January 25, 2013). Rabbi Joe Dweck reads from the special Tu Bishvat book (photo below), points out the new fruits to his children, and recites the berachot. He proceeds to tell some Tu Bishvat stories, and the kids show off their Tu Bishvat art creations made in school. As a special treat, Margalit whips up a pomegranate martini shared by her and her husband.
Rabbi Joseph Dweck was kind enough to relay to me some Tu Bishvat fruit for thought. He mentioned the halachic aspect of how, when a Jewish person plants a fruit tree, he is not allowed to eat from it for three years, and of course the new year to begin counting begins every year on Tu Bishvat,(so if you planted a tree a month before Tu Bishvat- by the time TuBishvat rolls around 4 weeks later, that first year is already counted).
On an even more inspirational level, Rabbi Dweck explained our human connection to the trees, and how it even began with the story of Adam and Eve. The holiday of Tu Bishvat should inspire us to see the beauty and sweet flavor of Hashem’s proud work- the wonderful shades of red, green, and orange… plus the abundant flavor and juiciness that exudes from each one of the fruits that our trees bear. Did you ever stop to think that we are similar to the trees? We try to grow strong, establish rock solid roots, and try to bear beautiful fruits that we are be proud of – our children, hessed, mitzvoth, and our work.
My sister in law constantly tells me that I am truly an old soul, and a gnawing ache in my heart propels me to believe that she is right. As The jewish Hostess, I have planted myself into the awesome job of treasuring the old customs while adding a splash of modern hues and excitement to our holiday ambiance.
Enjoy the jolt of awesome color, new fruits, gorgeous flowers, and Tu Bishvat cakes baked by our fabulous community bakers. Keep scrolling below for more details about each photo.
A huge thanks to Miriam and Manny Haber who graciously allowed me to use their beautiful home for the photo shoot. Miriam is the ultimate Jewish Hostess.
Morris Antebi, photographer extraordinaire shot these fantastic photos for The Jewish Hostess in a flash. I was impressed with his professionalism, the most up to date digital photography equipment and the sharp artistic detail that he was able to capture with his magical lens. Please check out his Facebook page HERE. His commercial work and wedding and video portfolio is not to be believed. Thanks Morris!!
Thank you Vicki Majors for bringing over the much needed tree trunks for the cake displays!
Cherry Blossom fabric for the table runner by Marimekko for Crate and Barrel. Run over to Crate and Barrel for some great table decorating ideas!
Candy and chocolate tree built into the dining room chandelier by Louis of Avenue J Florists.
Candy and Chocolate displays and Gifts by Lucy Aini and Edlo Sorcher.
More kosher delicacies from CANDY and CHOCOLATE.
Here I mounded fresh new fruits and the Shiv’ah Minim – strawberries, grapes, figs, apricots, pomegranates, dates, olives (back left), and fig bread by Mikhayla Bibi.
Fuchsia cotton berry napkin by Crate and Barrel.
Gorgeous and useful circular white resin tray above by Parci Parla.565 Kings Highway New York, NY 11223
Note the Tu Bishvat berachot prayer books (above)for new fruits at the Tu Bishvat seder.
An amazing “Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate Tree” by Custom Berries Plus.
All strawberries are checked and cleaned and hand dipped in pareve or milk chocolate.
Note the delicious grapes that are dipped in chocolate and nuts on the base of the tree!.
Luv at First Bite by baker Marlene Cohen. The perfect Tu Bishvat cake! (above)Branches and cherry blossoms! The bottom tier of the cake is a fluffy coconut cake, frosted with a parve buttercream frosting. The second tier is a strawberry vanilla cake, also frosted with buttercream frosting. Love at First Bite caters all kinds of kosher parties including showers, engagement parties, bar mitzvahs and more!
Margalit Dweck is famous for her fabulous artistry in kosher baking for any hostess event. Floral Tu BIshvat Petit Fours (above) atop a monstera leaf are just a tiny show of Margalit’s talent. Follow Margalit here on Instagram.
Mari Gindi’s Batter Up Confections are the talk of the town. Customized kosher baked goods for your every occasion. Check out her website HERE.
Adelle Soffer’s almond and/or coconut date balls are the perfect healthy Tu Bishvat and all year round healthy snack go-to. Each date is cleaned and checked.Follow her Instagram feed HERE.
Sweet Cakes by Sara Azizian. Sara can be reached at 646-400-7751 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram @sweetcakesbysara’. All the decorations are made from sugar and are edible. The flowers are from the Almond Tree called Almond Blossoms. The almond is mentioned many times in the Torah. It is described as “Among the best of fruits”. The almond blossom was also supplied as a model for the Menorah which stood in the Holy Temple.
Lesley Chera’s cured Sicilian, Kalamata, and Cerignola olives are specially seasoned . Choose from in a variety of different flavors- Spicy, Rosemary, Lemon, Jalapeño, Zatar are just some of the flavors in Lesley’s repertoire … Some are are even seasoned w fennel and citrus peel.. Perfect for any meal and a beautifu hostess gift. Lesley’s favorites are served with wine and good friends. Follow @LesleyChera on Instagram.
Jeanette’s Olive Garden (above) sells specially seasoned pitted cured olives in many flavors such as Zaatar,Lemon Zest, Jalepeno, Tapanade And Stuffed Mozarella Olives too!
Pitted and Kid friendly too! Makes a perfect gift and for your own Shabbat table! Follow @JeanetteCohen on Instagram.
“My name is Mikhayla Bibi. I’m a graduate of Jerusalem Culinary Institute where I received my certification in both the culinary and patisserie arts. I was employed by Eucalyptus, one of Jerusalem’s most highly regarded restaurants as the bread baker. In addition I learned many biblically historical dishes which is part of the theme of this bread. Figs and Dates both among the seven species perfect for Tu B’shvat. Enjoy!”
I actually got to taste Mikhayla’s white meringue bowl filled with cream and topped with fresh grapes and pomegranate seeds. Divine! Follow Mikhayla’s Instagram page HERE
Leila Akkad designed this Macaron Cherry Blossom Tree to fit in perfectly with our Tu Bishvat theme. Each macaron hung like an individual cherry blossom which had a gorgeous effect on the holiday table. Leila designs gorgeous macarons for your every hostess need. She actually created the macaron menorah featured HERE on The Jewish Hostess. Follow Leila HERE on Instagram for more fabulous kosher macaron creations!
When Shirley bar Nathan heard that I was working on a Tu Bishvat table, she ran over with this hot pink flower arrangement that worked perfectly with my modern rustic theme. Thanks Shirley! Follow Shirley’s fantastic floral shop here on Instagram.
Check out the fabulous centerpiece that she made for my Rosh Hashanah table HERE.
Sophia Cohen’s new Urban Pops are the talk of the town! Made with fresh fruit, and frozen to perfection, makes me just want to lick these delicious pops right off the screen!
Flavors like apricot, blueberry, watermelon, mojito, pina colada, and limonata are just some of her citrus delights. Email Sophia Cohen HERE for more info!
My niece Shirley Dana is an amazing baker. Her desserts are made in her own strictly kosher, dipped kitchen, and are baked personally from scratch to order. She works hard to create sweets that not only taste like heaven, but that can be seen as tiny works of art as well. Using only the finest ingredients, her desserts can be glamorously displayed at an event, but equally enjoyed on a cozy night at home. Check out her website HERE.
“Tu bishvat encompasses a variety of delicious fruits and nuts that represent Israel, but it goes beyond that. In my eyes, the holiday also serves as a reminder for how our country was built, all the hard work that went into it (and continues to go into it), all of the men and women who joined forces to create our homeland. This kosher cake contains dried fruit and is encrusted with almonds, a clear correlation to tu bishvat. Frosted with chocolate to represent carobs, the top is decorated with date balls. They’re dusted with pink sanding sugar to tie in the gorgeous pink and brown theme. Circle-shaped and filled with so many accompanying flavors, the cake symbolizes all the different “flavors” that have worked together, not in a hierarchy but rather equally in a circle, to form our beautiful country.” By Yvonne Orfali- The Cravery. Check out Yvonne’s Instagram feed HERE.
The official liquor of the Tu Bishavt Holiday! Mahia Fig Liquor! Kosher. Distilled by the Nahmias family.
Place your order with Amazon.
Gold Rimmed Coffee Cups by Michael Wainwright.
Rimmed Resin Circular Tray by Parci Parla.565 Kings Highway New York, NY 11223
Close up of resin tray below.
The bags and tags below were hand stamped with a cherry blossom stamp by moi! When Miriam told me that as a child in Mexico they would run into the house with wide paper bags on Tu Bishvat excited for their delicious new and dried fruits from their parents,(originally from Aleppo, Syria) they played a game of, “Who sees ‘Id Il Jar?” (the holiday of trees). And when the kids said- “WE SEE HIM!!!” They would fill up their bags with candy. Inspired by her story, I decided to recreate my own rendition below…..
So easy and fun to make these hand stamped cherry blossom craft bags! I also purchased the wood grained cardboard boxes above from Paper Source.
I think I almost bought the entire store out! Check out Paper Source HERE
Phew! All done….
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