tu b'shevat by tess_marie on flickr

Gluten Free Tu B’shevat

What is Tu B’shevat you ask? Why it is the holiday of trees established by the Talmudic rabbis sometime between the 3rd to 5th century –the early part of the Middle Ages.

As the daughter of liberal Jewish activists (my parents met at a civil rights meeting in the 1960’s) I’ve always been really into this holiday which is described by wikipedia as follows:

Tu Bishvat is considered by secular Israeli Jews and organizations to be the Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day…Ecological organizations in Israel and the diaspora have adopted the holiday to further environmental-awareness programs.

I remember the rituals of Tu B’shevat growing up –to celebrate my family planted trees. Additionally, I have a very personal connection to this holiday. According to the website Think Baby Names:

Elana e-la-na as a girl’s name is pronounced ee-LAHN-ah. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Elana is “tree”.

Here’s more on Tu Bishvat from about.com:

An annual new year for trees was established by Talmudic rabbis so that Jews could calculate the age of trees and know when they could be harvested. Jews celebrate Tu B’Shvat by serving dishes containing fruit mentioned in the Bible either for a regular meal or for a Tu B’Shvat Seder ceremony.

When I saw my Rabbi today he had many interesting ideas to share with me about Tu B’Shevat. According to Rabbi Gavriel, the words that make up the name of this holiday have a simple relevance. The celebration falls during the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat. The Hebrew letters “tuf” and “vuv” make up the numbers 6 and 9 which add up to 15 –are you still following this?!

He further explained to me that this holiday is not the New Year of the Trees, it is the New Year of the Tree, and it is thought that the reference to “tree” could be a mystical reference to the Tree of Life. For more fascinating information of this type, you can take a look at my Rabbi’s column. He provides further detail on this wonderful holiday we call  Rosh Hashanah Ilan or Tu B’Shevat.

On this Jewish holiday, it is customary to serve dishes made up of fruit –in season in the warm Middle East during this time of year. Here are some of the foods that we eat on Tu B’shevat:

According to wikipedia, Tu Bishvat (Hebrew: ??? ?????) is a minor Jewish holiday. This year, it will fall upon the dusk of February 7 through the dusk of February 8, 2012. Generally, Tu Bishvat falls on the second full moon before Passover, or, in a leap year, the third full moon before Passover.


  1. says

    Hi Elana – I LOVE Tu B’Shevat – each year, I look forward to attending a Tu B’Shevat seder where I get to feast on lots of gluten free dried fruits and nuts. It’s one of the Jewish holidays where I can participate and eat safely during the ritual meal.

  2. Rochelle says

    I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now and have to tell you that my life has really changed – I had cut out grains and refined sugars from my diet and your blog and recipes have made my life so much sweeter and easier.

    I think that this upcoming Tu B’shvat, which celebrates the amazing almond tree is a great time to thank you for helping me stay healthy and still eat all the delicious almond flour treats!

    As a side note, Tu B’shvat is celebrated at our home by eating as many varieties of fruit we can procure – sometimes over 30 types.

    Thanks again Elana!

  3. Jamie Sue says

    Thanks, Elana. This may be a minor holiday, but trees are big! Lovely images come to mind, including that Tree of Life. How delightful to be named for trees.

  4. Nancy says

    Thanks for the TU B’Shvat – plug — It has always been one of my favorite holidays — and signals that Purim then Passover are not far behind. In the Northeast – it helps me think about spring and that it will be coming before we know it

  5. says

    Happy Tu b’Shvat Elana! My kids are singing “tu b’Shvat yegiyah hag ha ilanot” already. We make fruit leather in the dehydrator, new fruits and stuffed dates, put a pecan in the date drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with coconut- absolutely fabulous. That ones from my Yemeni neighbor.

  6. says

    Happy Name sake day to you Elana… hee hee. We will be celebrating by planting many trees. We’ve added almost 15 to our yard. All fruit, either stone or citrus. All good for sugar free jams and juices.

    My son’s favorite Shalom Sesame video is about Tu B’shevat.

    In honor of the holiday, I have been making several versions of your recipe for Apricot Bars.

    Thank you for sharing the words of your rabbi with everyone.

  7. says

    Elana, I think it’s really sweet that you are sharing the beautiful meaning of Tu B’shevat with your readers. I am Jewish as well, conservative, but this is just not one of the holidays I tend to share a lot about it (on the other hand, I’m really passionate about sukkot and the idea of celebrating the local harvest!) Anyway, I’m just really glad to see this here, so many people learn from you :)

  8. Dena says

    I LOVE Tu b’Shevat! There’s a special seder to follow in which you eat different types of fruits including olives, figs, etc. Fruits with seeds you eat, fruits with pits, fruits with skin you don’t eat, fruits with skin you do eat I think are the four categories. Drink red wine, white wine, red and white mixed. Nuts. Honestly, this is the easiest gluten-free holiday… by the time you eat all that, who needs anything more?! Time to dig up my Tu b’Shvat seder notes.

  9. Donna says

    Are you using the smaller size loaf pan? It’s about 7″ x 3.5″…for some reason the GF loaves bake/rise better in the smaller size. I’ve had that same”raw” experience using regular size pans.

  10. Raquel of Galilee says

    Elana: so brave to discuss Tu B’Shvat.
    Our European colleugues open their Outlook Calendar to which they have added “Jewish Holidays” and they are puzzled as to what “New year of Trees” could possibly mean. Next time I will send them a link to “elana’s pantry”!
    I so enjoyed your explanation.
    You have some special Rabbi – I’m going to read his words.

    Here in the Galilee (northern Israel) the wild almond trees are just bark and pink blooms at the time of Tu B’Shvat. Lovely.
    Enjoy the bountiful fruit!

  11. ginger says

    I need help with your paleo bread. I made it just like the recipe and it came out looking great. When I sliced it, the middle was raw. What am I doing wrong???? This happened with another bread recipe I tried. I’ve been making bread for years and don’t know what is happening. I’d appreciate any help or suggestions.

  12. says

    I remember celebrating Tu Bishvat when I was a kid. The Hebrew school used to make a little baggie of fruits and nuts for each student.

    The most popular was a sweet pod from a tree that what was called ” Buxor” which as an I adult I found it was actually a pod of “carob”! Thanks for the memories.. I forgot about that holiday Maybe I’ll make a special platter of nuts and fruits for the superbowl party in honor of Tu Bishvat!

    • Lindsay says

      We did the carob thing too!!! (That was when we went to the hippie/Reconstructionist shul) Good times! I was just telling my husband how much fun that was as kids. I wonder where you find those carob pods. They were pretty good, if memory serves!

    • Arin says

      My school passed out those pods, too. As an adult, I always wondered what they were and I am so happy to now know that they were carob.

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