This Tu B’Sh'vat seder takes place annually at Hampshire College and is a new version of Ellen Bernstein's original seder (Philadelphia, 1988), which was the catalyst for Shomrei Adamah, the first national Jewish environmental organization.
Tu B’Shvat is the new year for the trees according to Jewish tradition. In the 1600’s the Jewish mystics, the Kabbalists, who lived in Sefad, created a ritual—a seder—for Tu B’Shvat. The Kabbalists had a 4-dimensional view of life. They imagined that the cosmos operated according to 4 worlds: action, emotion, thought and spirit. For their seder they ate many kinds of fruits, drank concoctions of wine, made blessings, and read spiritual texts about nature.
This seder that you are about to view is rooted in the four worlds of the kabbalistic seder. Here, action corresponds to earth, emotion corresponds to water, air corresponds to thought, and spirit corresponds to fire. You can think of the seder as a 4-course fruit feast. Each course is composed of readings from spiritual and contemporary sources, music, fruits, wine, and blessings. Four puppets signify the four different elements/worlds.