Tu Bishvat – An Invitation to Reconnect with the Earth

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Tu Bishvat is one of four Jewish New Year celebrations, specifically the “New Year for Trees” or Rosh Hashanah La’Ilanot. Originally, the date served as the start of the Jewish agricultural year, a calendar subject to a number of laws and practices regarding planting, harvesting, and tithing. For example, orlah, or the Biblical prohibition against eating the fruits of trees in their first three years of life, affords trees a solid growth period to ensure the success of later, mature harvests. In modern times, Tu Bishvat continues to mark a day of environmental importance in Israel, as it has become the national Arbor Day, celebrated by tree-planting en masse, a time-honored tradition in Judaism. Indeed, Israel is one of the only nations in the world to have entered the 21st century with more trees than it had one hundred years ago.


The holiday of Tu Bishvat offers time to reflect on Judaism’s relationship to the environment and its preservation, particularly in light of the dire state of our ecology at present. As Genesis recounts, human beings were formed from the very earth itself, and the name of the first human being, Adam, comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for earth, adamah. Our tradition sees humans as of the land and thus for the land, as both inhabitants and guardians.


We might see trees as the lungs of the Earth, and appreciate their value for providing food and shade, preventing soil erosion, braking the wind, and regulating temperatures. But perhaps they are equally important to us as humans for the contrast between us and them. Whereas trees by their very nature are rooted right into the earth, human beings need to strike roots into the earth willingly, out of conscious endeavor. On Tu Bishvat, we are called upon to take the time to cultivate these roots, to dig ourselves deep into the land, to feel its needs and respond to them. So important is this practice that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai instructed that should the Messiah come while we are engaged in planting a sapling, we must first finish the planting and only then greet the Messiah! So this year, let us all celebrate Tu Bishvat by redoubling our efforts to make environmentally-conscious decisions every single day. Recycle more, conserve more water, invest in renewable energy, or just go out and plant a tree!


by David Diamond, Guest Contributor


Goodbye Chanukah, Hello Passover!

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When we lit the menorah last night, I felt so much gratitude for the many Jewish communities that brighten our world, including our own Haggadot.com community, with nearly 50,000 members across the globe. It's truly a pleasure to co-create with you!
In 2020 we will celebrate an exciting milestone: Haggadot.com's 10th Passover Season! Please consider a special year-end gift to kick-off our celebrations, or even a monthly membership to support our work throughout the entire year. 
As you know, we're more than just a Passover resource. Custom & Craft has become a design lab for all aspects of Jewish life, with DIY booklets for the High Holidays, Chanukah, Shabbat and more. We're especially proud of our new Product Design Workshop, which recently produced The Heirloom Circle, a ritual guide & activity kit for families to explore their heritage through shared heirlooms.
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Thanks for your support! And have a happy Chanukah!
Happy Chanukah!

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Happy Chanukah, Haggadah-Makers! We hope you have a holiday filled with joy, light and of course, latkes! Get ready to start your Passover 2020 Haggadah in the new year! We can't wait to share all the exciting ideas for your Passover seder.


#GivingTuesday Totes! Donate Before Chanukah

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Resources for Yom Kippur

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Yom Kippur starts this evening! Check out our favorite blessings & readings for simple ways to connect to this important day. We hope you have a meaningful holiday! 

Have Your Heard About Brand Camp?

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Have you heard about our Brand Camp training program? It starts in just a couple weeks, and I want make sure you have a chance to register! This 7-week series of online classes & personal coaching sessions will help you freshen up your brand & social media strategy for the Jewish New Year. 

Click here for the full schedule & class descriptions. You can join the webinars live, or catch up on recordings to work at your own pace. Sign up by this Friday, July 5th for $25 off your registration.

I hope we can work together! See below for what past participants have said about working with Custom & Craft.
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Eileen Levinson
Founder & Executive Creative Director
Haggadot.com | Custom & Craft

Reviews From Past Brand Camp Participants:
Custom & Craft Brand Camp helped me/my organization understand just how important it is to have a consistent brand that connects people to our work and our mission. I was able to take the valuable tools I gained and apply them immediately to our website and brand materials. What became so clear to me, what Eileen really helped us understand, was that it is so important to be true to our core values, our "why" and then think about what it is we do. She helped us understand what makes us special, what differentiates us. I cannot thank her enough.
— Julia Moss, The Miracle Project
Eileen was able to take our intentions and focus them into solid and effective ideas. It has been a pleasure working with her. I’ve learned so much.
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When I reached out to Custom & Craft, I was hoping to get some technical assistance in executing a specific social media campaign. But when we met, her thoughtful and directed questions made it clear to me that my initial idea was not viable. She asked that I complete a simple yet challenging assignment that has become the core of a campaign that will be far more effective in capturing the attention of those who need our help. We could not have done it without her guidance.
— Esther Macner, Get Jewish Divorce Justice
I’ve been attending quite a few webinars and social media trainings lately, and I enjoyed yours the most!
— Maryam Saleemi, New Ground: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change
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Last Minute Tips!

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Short on time? Download & print our 2019 Favorites Haggadah or any Featured Haggadah


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Got seder plate anxiety? Check out these cool alternatives.


Need a charoset recipe? Make one of these


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Download & Print Our 2019 Favorites Haggadah

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Passover starts tomorrow night! Haven't started your haggadah yet? Don't worry, we've selected the best from the season and compiled them into our new 2019 Favorites Haggadah!!! Download the whole thing or just save a few clips for your seder. We promise, it's worth it. Contributors include: HIAS, Jewish World Watch, Be'chol Lashon, #Friendseder, JewBelong, Esther Kustanowitz, Moving Traditions and more!  

2019 Favorites Haggadah

Or try a previous Favorites Haggadah. They're all seder-ready! 

Be'chol Lashon - Haroset From Around The World

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Sybil Kaplan, Canadian Jewish News, April 8, 2019

What Passover seder symbol is found in the traditions of all Jewish communities, but is not mentioned in the biblical passage that enjoins us to eat the paschal offering, matzah and bitter herbs? Haroset.

We define haroset loosely as a paste of fruit, spices, wine and matzah meal that’s symbolic of the mortar used by the Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt.

The word is of unknown origin, but may come from the word “heres,” meaning clay, because of its colour. The custom of eating haroset is thought to have come from the time of the Babylonians, who dipped food in relishes or sauces to add flavour.

Different versions of haroset appear in the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions.

The New York Times Passover Cookbook, edited by Linda Amster, says that the Iraqi version is one of the oldest and most time-consuming recipes, dating back to the Babylonian exile of 579 BCE. Made into a jam from dates, grapes, pomegranate and honey, it was a sweetener in the ancient world and is still used by Iraqi, Burmese, Syrian and Indian Jews.

The Talmud says that haroset must be sharp in taste and similar to clay in substance and colour, thus the recipe varies among different communities.

Ashkenazim tend to use apples, chopped almonds (or other nuts), cinnamon, red wine and sometimes matzah meal. Sephardim and those from Middle Eastern countries tend to use fruits that grew in the Land of Israel in biblical times, such as grapes, figs, dates, almonds and pomegranates. Israelis often turn haroset into a dessert by adding bananas, dates, orange juice and sugar.

Because the maror or bitter herb is so strong, some say the real purpose of haroset is to allay the bitterness. As part of the ritual seder, the haroset and maror are placed between matzot to make a sandwich, which is said to have been invented by Rabbi Hillel in the first century CE, hence the name, Hillel’s sandwich.

Different Jewish communities have variations on the ingredients. Jews from the Island of Rhodes use dates, walnuts, ginger and sweet wine. The Jews of Salonika, Greece, add raisins. Other Greek Jews use walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon, cloves and red wine, and spread it thickly on matzah. Turkish Jews include oranges.

Moroccan Jews sometimes make haroset paste and roll it into balls. This is a legacy from the Jews of medieval Spain, who made the balls of apples, dried fruit, almonds, cooked chestnuts, sugar and cinnamon, and then drizzled the balls with white vinegar before serving.

The Jews of Venice use chestnut paste, dates, figs, poppy seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, orange peel, dried apricots, raisins, brandy and honey.

The Jews of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, use almonds, dates, raisins, apples and wine.

Egyptian haroset contains dates, nuts, bananas, apples, wine, cinnamon and pomegranate seeds.

Instead of haroset as we know it, some Iraqi Jews use a date syrup call halek – which is made by boiling dates, straining the liquid and then reducing it over a low flame until thick – and sprinkling chopped nuts on top of it.

In Holland, they make a chunky mixture with more apples and less nuts, combined with cinnamon, sugar, raisins and sweet wine. Jews from Surinam, in Dutch Guiana, use seven fruits and coconut.

Following the edict to have a sharp taste, Persian Jews use dates, pistachio nuts, almonds, raisins, apples, oranges, bananas, pomegranate seeds, sweet wine, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, vinegar and black pepper.

Likewise, Yemenite Jews use dates, raisins, almonds, nuts, figs, dates, sesame seeds, apples, pomegranate seeds, grape juice, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper.

Jews from Afghanistan pound haroset in a mortar with a pestle and use walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, apples, sweet wine, pomegranate seeds, dates and black pepper.

However you make haroset, be inventive and make several different kinds to serve.

My Mom’s Haroset

 2 apples, chopped

 75 ml (1/3 cup) ground nuts

 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) cinnamon

 15 ml (1 tbsp) honey

 30 ml (2 tbsp) sweet red wine

Place chopped apples in a bowl. Add nuts, cinnamon and honey and mix until smooth.

Add wine and mix well.

Makes 6 servings.

My Sephardic Haroset

 250 ml (1 cup) chopped dates

 125 ml (1/2 cup) raisins

 1 chopped apple

 125 ml (1/2 cup) finely chopped nuts

 5 ml (1 tsp) ginger

60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine

Combine all ingredients.

Yields 500 ml (2 cups).

Sephardic Haroset

 250 ml (1 cup) chopped walnuts

 60 ml (1/4 cup) chopped almonds

 125 ml (1/2 cup) raisins

 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped dates

 60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine

 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

 0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) cinnamon

 apricot halves

Combine walnuts, almonds, raisins, dates, wine, lemon juice and cinnamon.

Form into balls.

Spoon onto apricot halves.

Sabra Haroset

2 peeled and cored apples

6 peeled bananas

1 lemon, juiced

1 orange, juiced

20 pitted dates

250 ml (1 cup) peanuts

250 ml (1 cup) dry red wine

matzah meal, as needed

10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon

sugar, to taste

Put fruit and nuts though a grinder (or blender or food processor).

Add wine, lemon juice and orange juice.

Add enough matzah meal to form the consistency you want.

Mix in cinnamon and sugar.


Courtesy of Be'chol Lashon. Originally published here: https://www.cjnews.com/holiday-recipes/haroset-from-around-the-world