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    ModernTribe's Guide for Choosing a Passover Haggadah for Your Seder

    Stop looking for the perfect Haggadah... instead do like we do: blend.

    A ModernTribe Strategy for Choosing a Passover Seder Haggadah

    (1) Choose a basic Haggadah for everyone at the table -- we like the 30 Minute Seder Haggadah as this basic book. It is clear, colorful and inexpensive to furnish a copy for everyone.

    (2) Then add images, readings, poems, and songs from other Haggadot. There are many special ones out there, each with their own wisdom and flavor. Read a Haggadah review on our blog for a few ideas. Don't forget all the free resources available to enhance your Passover and seder experience: including G-d Cast's video The Passover Seder... With the Four Sons, Bangitout's Seder Sidekick, Sipping Seder, and create your own Haggadah with Haggadot.com.

    (3) If you have children, make sure you have at least one Passover haggadah for children -- you may even want to read this book at the table for the kids -- we do.

    (4) If you are like our family, and have dozens of Haggadot already, add to your collection this year's much anticipated release: Jonathan Safran Foer's New American Haggadah.


    (5) Great music-for-making-matzah-balls or as seder musical interludes or even meal background music is Socalled's Hip Hop Haggadah.

    Come chat with us on Facebook and tell us about your own best Haggadah strategies and ideas!


    What is Tu B'shevat?

    Tree Necklace

    (Love Tree Necklace by Seeka)

    Tu B'shwhat?

    Tu B'shevat literally means the "15th of Shevat" the Hebrew month which falls in the common calendar's January to early February. But Tu B'shevat is considered the Jewish New Year of Trees. Trees are extremely important in Judaism: trees are used metaphorically to consider G-d and life in Judaism and the planting of trees is holy. Combine that with the very modern importance of reclaiming the baron desert of Israel through planting trees, and it's easy to see why a celebration of trees is part of our tradition.

    (There are actually four "new year" celebrations in the Jewish calendar: Rosh Hashanah being the one we all know and love for the apples dipped in honey. There is also 1st day of the month in which Passover falls which is the New Year of Festivals, and then the first of Elul, falling late August, is the New Year of Cows. Really. )

    The origin of Tu B'shevat

    The Jewish New Year of Trees was originally the date Jews used to calculate the age of trees. A tree is as old as how many Tu B'shevats it has been on Earth. Why is this important -- to calculate the age of trees? Well, there is a Commandment in the Torah that people shouldn't eat the fruit from trees for the first four years: no one eats for the first three and then during the fourth year the fruit is picked but not eaten (instead is donated to "G-d"). Then after the tree reaches four years of age, people can eat the fruit. Go ahead and ask "why four years?" but there is no good answer except "it is Commanded."

    Modern Celebration

    The Tu B'Shevat seder began as a Kabbalistic Jewish mystical practice in the 17th century. Ecologically minded Jews have adopted Tu B'shevat as a time to honor conservation and sustainable agriculture. (I bet Madonna celebrates.) The seder pretty much consists of drinking wine, eating fruit, praising G-d for creating these things, and reminded ourselves that we are stewards of the Earth. One way we drive home the point is by eating carob. Carob is indigenous of the land of Israel and it takes a special meaning because of how long it takes to bear fruit: up to 70 years. "Why plant a carob tree if you won't live to eat its fruit?," an old man is asked in a Talmudic tale. The old man replies that it is for his children and grandchildren. We must take care of this world for the next generation.

    Along with carob, it is traditional to eat the "seven species", which are fruits of the earth mentioned in the bible and native to the land of Israel: pomegranates, dates, barley, wheat, figs, olives, and grapes. Also, participants get to drink four glasses of wine ranging from white to red. So, for example, you'd start with a Chardonnay, moving to a White Zinfandel (those morally opposed to white zin can obstain), continue with a Pinot, and end with a Cabernet.