What’s the best way to enjoy your ‘five a day’? The answer is to be at the Newcastle Reform Synagogue Tu BiShvat Seder, as Brenda Dinsdale explains.
Over 30 people, old and young, attended this special service and meal led by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, who explained the significance of the various fruits it is traditional to eat. We enjoyed the mixing of the wine in the customary four glasses and a dinner which used 19 different fruits and nuts – more than the usual fifteen varieties suggested.
Our Seder plates held examples of each type of fruit – those whose skins were inedible such as melon or almonds; those which contained inedible stones, such as apricots and peaches and, finally, fruits which were completely edible such as berries.
In recent years, it has become customary to include an Israeli fruit as well as something ‘unusual’ and we were able to eat fresh Israeli dates, a real treat. It was more of a challenge to find something truly ‘unusual’ so, in the end, we ate sharon fruit.
Rabbi Sheridan encouraged us to think about the meaning of this festival and community members took turns in reading parts of the service.
One of four ‘New Years’ in the Jewish calendar, Tu BiShvat gives us the opportunity to look forward to the days when the hidden growth of fruit on winter trees will develop into the fully formed fruit we can enjoy.