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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘tu b’shvat’

Get to Grips with Fruit Flavors in Wine on Tu B’Shvat

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Market stalls along the cobbled alleys in the Machne Yehuda shuk (market) in Jerusalem are overflowing with dried fruit. As the sudden abundance of donuts reminds Israelis that Chanukah is coming, so the mounds of dried fruit are synonymous with the arrival of Tu B’shvat.

Not well known outside of Israel, the minor Jewish holiday of Tu B’shvat celebrates the ‘New Year of the trees’ from which the correct tithes were calculated in the times of the Temple. Today, many Israelis take Tu B’shvat as an opportunity to eat exotic dried fruits. Some even go as far as to hold Tu B’Shvat seder, a Chassidic custom that traditionally included fruits and wine from the seven Biblical species.

Alongside the piles of dried fruit in the market are bottles of homegrown Israeli wines also ready to grace the Tu B’Shvat table. The relationship between fruit and wine is clear. Fruit is transformed into wine. But from there things become more complicated. Wine is frequently described in terms of fruit. We hear phrases like, ‘notes of cherry.’

But, what do these terms really mean? If no artificial flavors are added to wine, then how can the simple grape produce a flavor with ‘a hint of orange blossom?’

Fruit flavors as described in wine actually only refer to the scents that are identified as we smell the wine. They could be classified by the chemical names, but would hardly appeal to the average wine drinker.

Instead, a common language of wine tastes that uses common scents as analogies to the flavors present in wine has developed. Referring to such association enables the experience of wine taste to be universal and allows the exchange of knowledge and impressions.

To experience a wine’s true scent, you should smell the wine twice. First, gently swirl the wine in the glass, then sniff deeply; this is called the ‘first nose.’ Then swirl the wine again and smell a second time, the ‘second nose’, which allows you to identify a greater range of flavors in the wine. The best sommeliers are able to identify as many as 60 flavors in one wine.

Once identified, each fruit flavor teaches us something about the wine. Fresh fruit flavors like apple, pear, quince, peach, apricot and strawberry are usually signs of a young wine.

Cooked fruit flavors like compote or jam indicate a very ripe harvest year with hot weather conditions during the fruit ripen period.

Exotic fruits such as papaya, mango, pineapple, passion fruit and litchi are only found when the grapes were very ripe at the time of harvesting.

As you might expect, sour fruit flavors, such as citrus, green apple, kiwi, red currant and raspberry indicate a wine that was produced from grapes with a greater acidity.

Flavors reminiscent of dried fruits or nuts are usually found in sophisticated white wines.

Obviously, every wine contains multiple flavors. For a full tour of fruit flavors this Tu B’Shvat try these suggestions, found in local wine stores throughout the UK, to bring a taste of Israel to your table this Tu B’Shvat.

Grown in the footsteps of Mt Hermon, Gilgal White Riesling is fresh and makes a great aperitif with notes of citrus, melon as well as lemon and honey. Swill the glass to see if you can identify the subtle character of lime peel.

To accompany your dried fruit, try Yarden’s T2, produced from two different varieties of Portuguese grapes – Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cao. This rich wine was fortified with brandy to stop its fermentation and increases its alcohol content while preserving the grapes’ natural sweetness. Look out for the aromatic blend of ripe cherries and plums in the scent.

Daniela Berkowitz

1,000 Youth in Israel Pick Fruit for Needy on Tu B’Shevat

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

In honor of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday that marks the beginning of the new year for trees, youth volunteering with Leket Israel, are picking excess fruit remaining on trees in people’s private gardens to give to the poor.

Over 1,000 children and teens from across Israel including kibbutzim and yishuvim in the Jezreel Valley and from cities like Rehovot, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, and Givat Shmuel are participating in the Project Citrus Rescue, or Sayeret Tapuz in Hebrew. The fruit will be collected to be delivered to Leket’s 180 partner agencies for distribution to those in need.

According to Joseph Gitler, Leket Israel’s founder and chairman, the initiative, now in its fifth year, was coordinated this year to coincide with the holiday of Tu B’Shevat. “We are inviting volunteers to rescue this fruit before it rots in people’s yards and are reaching out to private home owners who are interested in donating their excess produce to feed the needy,” he said.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to involve the youth in a hands on activity to benefit those less fortunate and to mark Tu B’Shevat, the celebration of trees in a truly meaningful way,” Gitler added.

For Sarah Freund, a Ra’anana resident who has opened her garden for Project Citrus Rescue volunteers several times in the past, the initiative is worthwhile for everyone involved. “I contacted Leket Israel and told them about my garden, which is full of fruit trees,” Freund told Tazpit.

“There is no way for me to eat all this fruit,” said Freund, who has orange, grapefruit, clementine, lemon and kumquat trees in her garden. “The kids are doing a great service by picking all this excess fruit and getting it to others.”

In addition, throughout the year, Leket Israel, which serves as Israel’s largest food rescue network and the country’s National Food Bank, also sends tens of thousands of volunteers and dozens of paid pickers into orchards and fields to salvage tons of surplus produce. The volunteers rescue agricultural crops that are left to rot at the end of each season from hundreds of farms and packing houses around Israel.

In 2014, Leket collected and redistributed free of charge, 20 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to 180 nonprofit organizations serving Israel’s needy.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Tu B’Shvat at the President’s House

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

President Ruby Rivlin and his wife Nechama celebrated their first Tu B’Shvat holiday at the President’s residence, on February 3, 2015.

Photo of the Day

Israel, Mother Nature’s Child

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

{Originally posted on author’s website, FirstOne Through}

You will not find Jews sticking candles into tree bark, or trees pounding piñatas held aloft by tall people. But the holiday exists as a milestone, typically with people eating various fruits which were grown in Israel.

Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz wrote an article about how the New Year for Trees – Tu b’Shvat – evolved over the centuries. It began as a note on the calendar and became more significant as Jews were evicted from the holy land. People made a deliberate effort to connect with the land of Israel, so the holiday grew into a minor festival.

Today, we have a have a more environmentally-aware conception of the day. Rabbi Steinsaltz writes that we acknowledge “that all living creatures — plants included — have a connection with the human spirit, a common bond of life. It means that all the forms of life around us are not only meant to furnish us with materials for our subsistence. They actually share a definition of life with us, of growth, or bearing fruit.”

The modern country of Israel has been deeply connected to the land since the early pioneers tilled the land and fought off malaria in the swamps in the north.  Today the country stands as a leader in environmentally-friendly projects:

Here is the celebratory First-One-Through music video with music by the Beatles:

It is remarkable to consider that this same land went through so many cycles in its history. The bible often referred to the land as “flowing with milk and honey”. The biblical commentator Ramban taught that that expression referred to the nectar in the fruit that was so rich and over-flowing, due to an extremely fertile land.

However, just 150 years ago, the land was in serious neglect under the Ottomans. In 1867, Mark Twain remarked while he visited that the holy land was “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

The modern state of Israel can be proud and reflect on its accomplishments during the New Year for Trees.

Enjoy the holiday.

Paul Gherkin

A Tale for Tu B’shvat, the Jewish Birthday of the Trees

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Video of the Day

Tzohar Rabbis Help Lead Knesset’s First Ever Tu B’Shvat Seder

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The Knesset held its first ever Tu B’Shvat Seder on Thursday, hosted by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who focused on how the holiday promotes an enhanced connection with the Land of Israel.”

The Seder, which replicates the four cups of wine of the Passover Seder and includes traditional readings associated with land and produce, was conducted jointly by Knesset Member Ruth Calderon, of Yesh Atid, and Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.

Tu B’Shvat is taught in Jewish tradition to be the birthday of the trees and serves as the day in the Jewish calendar when thanks is given for food and produce.

“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winter, but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland,” Edelstein said while expressing hope that the Knesset Seder would become an annual tradition.

He added that even in the midst of the winter season in Israel, “ one can connect to the concept of blossoming trees.”

Rabbi Stav, whose efforts as head of Tzohar have been instrumental in promoting enhanced connections between Jewish tradition and the Israeli legislature, said that at its essence Tu B’Shvat is a holiday of belief.

“The truth is that even here in Israel, where the weather is relatively warm, we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom,” he said. “But the lesson is that we believe that the good times of produce and success are just ahead and that is a message of faith that has meaning far beyond just this holiday.”

MK Calderon said that the initiative for the Knesset Seder was built around a concept of promoting a Jewish renaissance within Israeli society. “This holiday serves to remind all of us of the beauty of the land we live in and to better recognize the importance of everything we have.”

The Seder features foods from all the Seven Species known as particular holy in Jewish tradition/

More than 200 people attended the Knesset Seder, including government ministers, Knesset Members and staff and students from around Israel.

Jewish Press News Briefs

A Tu B’Shvat Tribute to Israel

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

My good friend Yonina Pritzker is the spiritual leader of Congregation Ohr Yisrael in Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to her congregational and community work, she has worked at The David Project on curricula related to Israel, and at CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) as a Research Analyst. She is also the most pro-Israel leader around! In honor of Tu B’Shvat she has written a reminder of what Israel is all about:

tu bishvat poster

When the ancient Temple stood in Jerusalem, and even after its destruction, the income of Israelite farmers was taxed by one tenth. The date which marked the end of one fruit crop and the beginning of the next fruit crop was the 15th day of the month of Shevat. This day, known as Tu B’Shvat, celebrated this year on Thursday, January 16, was considered to be the New Year for trees, just as Rosh HaShanah is our New Year. It was thought that the trees also stood in judgment that day, and their fruitfulness in the upcoming year was decided.

In celebration of Tu B’Shvat, Ashkenazi Jews in Europe would sing Psalms and eat different kinds of fruit from the trees of Israel. During the sixteenth century, the Kabbalists and mystics of Tzfat in Israel developed a Tu B’Shvat Seder, patterned after our Passover Seder. Amidst the drinking of four cups of wine, a multitude of fruit would be eaten

We are taught in the Torah, For the L-rd your G-d is bringing you to a good land: … A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates; a land of oil-yielding olives and honey. Deuteronomy 8:8

These are the seven species which are associated with the Land of Israel and which we traditionally eat on Tu B’Shvat.

Fifteen times, the Torah refers to the Land of Israel as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” The commentary Rashi explains that “milk” refers to goat’s milk, while “honey” refers to “any sweet juice of a fruit.”

In Midarkai Hailanos we are taught that the Ramban, or Nachmanides, understands “‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ as the highest of praise:  It is a good land, its air is good and pleasant for people, and every good thing can be found in it…Its fruit are so plump and sweet that the land runs with their honey.” While Rabbenu Bachyei “insists that ‘all the praises of the Land allude to the Torah itself…’ Even the air of Eretz Yisrael, say our Chachamim, has the capacity to make one wiser. In Rabbenu Bachyei’s opinion this is the ‘milk and honey’ of Eretz Yisrael.”

Our love of and connection to the Land of Israel is as old as our people itself. Israel and Jerusalem hold the deepest religious significance for Jews.  Although there are those who keep trying to deny this connection, as well as, politicize Jerusalem, this land and city, which are the objects of our eternal love, will never be a political issue.  On the contrary, Israel, the land which bears our name, and Jerusalem, our eternal capital, are the very soul of the Jewish People.

Israel is the religious and spiritual center of the Jewish world. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the Land of Israel from ancient times until today. The centrality of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people cannot be overstated. Over the millennia, many conquerors tried to absorb Israel within their empires; but in all of these attempts, the land of Israel remained the country of our people, and Jerusalem has served as the capital of only one nation – that of our Jewish nation.

Yishai Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-tu-bshvat-tribute-to-israel/2014/01/15/

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