Shevat: Rituals and Activities

Some practices and rituals to try out or adapt during the month of Shevat.

  • Create or update your altar with symbols of Shevat.  Bring in pinecones, tree branches, buds, saplings, feathers, water vessels, stars; river rocks (for Shabbat Shirah).
  • Celebrate Shabbat Shirah, when we read the story of the parting of the Red Sea, by feeding the birds.  According to R’Jill Hammer this is a tradtional custom of Ashkenazic Jews for Shabbat Shirah begun by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague.
  • Composing our Own Songs – In Shevat we celebrate the songs of two Biblical women – Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21) and Deborah (Judges 5:1-31). Take time to compose your song. It has been noted by Aviva Zorenber that song functions as the voice that gives life to a person’s uniqueness. Think of how you would compose your own song. What style of music would it be? What kinds of instruments would you use? What would the words or themes be? (from Hillel.org)
  • Learn about the “tree women” of the Torah for Tu B’Shevat:
    • Esther/Haddasah: Myrtle
    • Tamar: Date Palm (there are three Tamars!)
    • Tamar wife of Judah (Genesis 38) 
    • King David’s daughter (2 Samuel 13)
    • Absalom’s daughter (2 Samuel 14) 
  • Hold a Tu B’Shevat Seder – explore the resources of plants and trees through and with your community. Here’s one of my favorites: Telshemesh: Tu B’Shevat Seder the 4 Worlds
  • Donate a part of your first paychecks of the year to a good cause to honor Shabbat Shekalim and help your community.