Tu Bishvat

Creative Ideas For A More Playful Tu Bishvat

Ellen Appelbaum January 25, 2021

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’Fess up. Do your childhood recollections of Tu-Bishvat consist mostly of dried fruit in a bag? With a stick of dried bokser for good measure?

It’s time to liberate Tu-Bishvat! It’s time to explore the beautiful, creative character of this day.

What Is Tu Bishvat?

Tu-Bishvat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is not a holiday in the legal sense of the word. The date had legal uses in terms of bringing tithes, and it is still the date that tells us when a fruit tree has passed its three-year mark, so that its produce can be eaten. The Mishna says that on 15 Shevat, the sap begins to rise in the trees.

Right here and now in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve noticed changes too, right? The sky is no longer pitch-dark when you get out of work. We’re moving past winter.

And that is also part of Tu-Bishvat; it marks the first whispers of spring.

Practically speaking, the customs of Tu-Bishvat are a great opportunity to change up our otherwise humdrum routine, to think about our place in the world and in the environment. And, because there are no restrictions on music, cooking, driving, or zooming, you can come and go and snap and share to your heart’s content.

(There are many sites where you can refresh your memory about the layers and layers of meaning associated with Tu-Bishvat. I highly recommend this! Not only will it enhance your own experience, but it will save you from standing there speechless when one of your little crew asks what this is all about. Look up the “usual suspects” online – you know who they are.)

Play With Your Food

… in a respectful way, of course.

Dried fruit lends itself to wonderful, whimsical crafts.

Kaila, a New Jersey mom whose home is doubling as school for her youngest child, suggests:

– Cutting out fruit leather, using metal cookie cutters. This is an easy snack by itself, or you can use it as the basis for the next project.

– Using cut pieces of fruit leather to create either an actual scene (like a garden?) or a geometric display, using fruit-leather tangram shapes.

Chana Scop, Co-Director of Chabad of Mill Valley, created this appetizing, super-creative edible Tu-Bishvat fruit tree project.

– She uses dried fruit, chocolate frosting, grapes, figs, dates, marshmallows, and pomegranate seeds to produce an edible spring tree, a summer tree, a fall tree and a winter tree. The tree bark, yummily enough, is made of chocolate frosting.

Healthy and Festive Themed Tu Bishvat Meal

If preparing tasty dishes to share with your dear ones is the way you like to express your creativity, check out these holiday-themed recipes from Kosher.com:

1. Olive and Garlic Dip by Estee Kafra

Olives, one of the seven species native to the Land of Israel, make up the heart of this recipe, which yields enough to use for future festive meals. (It can keep up to two weeks in the fridge if it’s covered.) This year, Tu-Bishvat is on Wednesday night and Thursday, so use the dip on your Shabbat table and reflect on the holiday a little longer.

2. Mediterranean-Mezze-Platter by Rivki Rabinowitz

This ample spread of herb-marinated olives, tahini-stuffed dates, smoky baba ghanoush, hot pepper salad, red cabbage salad, quinoa and herb salad, and caramelized shallots will amply cover your vegetable needs at your festive meal.

3. Braised Cheek Meat with Olives and Dates by Shaindy Ausch

After you’ve prepped the ingredients, this recipe includes a long autopilot session where savory flavors simmer together.

4. Pecan-Fig Mini Tarts by Shaindy Ausch

This amazing dessert is simple to prepare yet satisfying. The natural succulence of figs, along with the sweet crunch of pecans, rounds out a beautiful meal.


I don’t know about you, but for me, this has been a year of digging deeper.

I’m reflecting on some of the lessons learned, like: Slow down for what really matters. Or, as the trees might say, you can’t rush a pomegranate.

Happy crafting and happy dining.