Ascent's Tu B'Shvat Seder in New York

by Gloria W. Lauterbach

It was Tu B'Shvat. My husband and I had arranged to pick up our granddaughter from her college to take her out for dinner on this special occasion. We had brought a platter of dried and fresh fruits and nuts with us. We added wheat - the first 'fruit' for which the Land of Israel is praised. We were able to utilize many references from the Ascent Inner Dimensions How-to Chart #6: "Celebrating Tu B'Shvat" - 1989/90. Each year I put it away carefully, and this day I once again reviewed the vast choice of material to prepare for our celebration. I had hoped that we would be able to have our Seder in the restaurant.

We decided on a small Manhattan restaurant which none of us had been to before. The small tables seating two were set out in pairs. The room was uncrowded and softly lit. We walked in and put two tables together. As the three of us sat down I noticed that there was really room for four at our table. We ordered our meal and started to wait. Soon I put the platter at the fourth place at the table as inconspicuously as I could. It was beautifully wrapped in shiny colored paper. I started to unwrap it and finally exposed all of its contents. I thought surely I would be asked to wrap it up and put it away, as you are not supposed to bring food into a kosher restaurant. When no one seemed to be paying any attention to us, I proceeded to follow another suggestion in the Ascent special.

I had brought two candles and small candleholders with me. I nonchalantly took out the candles, set them up at the table and proceeded to light them. One waiter in passing noticed our display. I thought we would never be allowed to continue, but no one said anything.

I looked up my reference material, much of which I found on the Tu B'Shvat chart. There was a line referred to from Psalm #147:14.with notes about wheat being the sustenance of life, which appealed to me. My granddaughter read it aloud for us. Then there were other examples and sources and notes. Soon we were saying the blessings on all the new fruits for this season. Ayda invited our waiter to partake of some luscious juicy dried figs after he too recited the blessings.

As I glanced around to make certain that we were not disturbing anyone I noticed the following. All of the tables had two candles-- in small candleholders -- and all were lit! The management liked what they saw at our table after all.

Each table looked distinctive with its two lit candles - on Tu B'Shvat. It was a warm incredible feeling to be so connected to the blessings on the fruits and wheat, to a variety of holiday stories, to the candles, and to the guests at all the tables in a particular restaurant on Tu B'Shvat 5762.

Mrs. Gloria Lauterbach (l) with her two daughters and
two of her grandchildren, including Ayda Rottman (r).

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