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Meeting the midrash

Resources for Tu BiShvat

Tu BiShvat, the New Year of the Trees, is coming up, so I've had the pleasure of spending the morning revising the haggadah that we will use at my synagogue's Tu BiShvat Seder. I'll post a copy of the haggadah once I'm finished tinkering with it. Until then, if you're planning an observance of your own, here are a few nifty resources I've found.

Over at The Coalition On the Environment and Jewish Life, there are two different sets of four questions for the Tu BiShvat seder. (The four question conceit is meant to parallel the familiar four questions from the Passover seder.) We'll be adapting both of these in our haggadah, because I think they're both neat: Ellen Bernstein's Four Questions for Tu BiShvat and Rabbi Larry Troster's Four Questions for TuBiShvat. I like the simplicity of hers, and the way they match the Passover questions in tone. And I like his provocative questions, like "What do I know about the place where I live?"

This holiday is often championed as the Jewish Earth Day, and the holiday's themes lend themselves to a celebration of our responsibility to steward the earth wisely and well. Treading lightly on the earth, using as few resources as possible, is one way of enacting that obligation. So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that a little internet sleuthing led me to two different one-page haggadot:

One-Page Flow-Chart Haggadah for Tu BiShvat by Rabbi David Seidenberg

One-Sided Haggadah for a Tu BiShvat Seder from Shir Yaakov at sixthirteen

The flow-chart is pleasing to the eye, and is liturgically solid, but it might not work well for the novice user. It requires some familiarity with the four worlds paradigm, and though it makes lovely sense to me, I'm not sure how it would read to someone who'd never done this before. (If you fit that bill, check it out and let me know what you think?)

The "one-sided" haggadah may be a better bet if you're not already deeply immersed in the esoterica of the holiday. (Despite its name, is actually designed to be printed on two sides of a single sheet of paper, which is then meant to be folded, to suggest a booklet.) I like the way its interior is divided into quadrants, each with a kavvanah, an instruction, and an action one can take.

Of course, the haggadah I'm working on now clocks in at fourteen pages. I like the environmental repercussions of using a single-page haggadah,  but my own liturgical sensibilities aren't that minimalist! As you might have gathered, I'm kind of a magpie where rituals like this are concerned; every time I find something shiny I want to grab it and add it. On that note, if you have favorite readings, poems, prayers, or songs for Tu BiShvat, let me know...

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