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I&A.com: Share That Tree
February 7, 2005 by Howard Blas

When I was a kid, Tu Bishvat meant putting money in the Jewish National Fund pushke, singing “Hashkediah Porahat” (The Almond Tree Is Blooming) and eating almonds from Israel, or trying to avoid breaking teeth on dried carobs. The Internet has widened the options for observing the New Year of the Trees, Shvat 15, which this year falls on January 25.

For starters, you might send a Tu Bishvat electronic greeting card. Though this kind of greeting isn’t available on most e-card websites, I found three sites where it’s possible. http://browse.postcards.org offers a variety of animated postcards. There are two choices on http://cards.cardfountain.com a conventional-looking picture of a large tree in full bloom, with background music from Bach or Mozart, and a musical card I’d describe as “anti-Tu Bishvat” because of the axe in the foreground. There’s also a card available at Blue Mountain, a general card site http://www.bluemountain.com

If you don’t want to settle for an electronic greeting, check out Gillian’s Tu Bishvat stationery at http://www.geocities.com Choices there include a fruit basket, an almond tree and four images of hands with small gardening shovels. And if you want to make sure you are getting your greetings out on time, the calendar at http://www.hebcal.com is the place for you. There you can also check portions of the week and make sure you have the right Shabbat candle-lighting time.

If you’re in the market for a script for a traditional Tu Bishvat seder, there are a few dozen options available on the Web. I liked two Haggadot that emphasize concern for the environment. Visitors to the World Union of Jewish Students’ site (http://www.wujs.org.il) are offered reminders to “reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled” along with more traditional fare. The Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life (http://www.coejl.org) offers “The Trees Are Davening,” a Haggadah “celebrating our kinship with trees and the earth.”

Enrich your seder with some special Tu Bishvat dishes. One place to look for recipes is http://www.torahbytes.org where you’ll find fruitcake, Waldorf salad and apple crisp. Or you can serve the complete meal featuring Tu Bishvat fruity chicken found at http://www.cyber-kitchen.com

If you can’t spend the festival in nature, try doing it virtually on the website of the Bible-period gardens of Neot Kedumim, near Modi’in, http://www.neot-kedumim.org.il It introduces the holiday by explaining, “When the Temple stood and tithes were paid on the produce of the land, Tu Bishvat was simply the cut-off date for the fiscal year on the tithing of fruit.” The beautiful color photos of plants on its 625 acres and a virtual tour of birds, plants and animals by season are a compensation if you’re stuck indoors.

Howard Blas
Filed under: Jerusalem Report (Source: http://www.jrep.com)