“We are Already Dried Fruits”: Women Celebrating a Tu BiSh’vat Seder in an Israeli Reform Congregation

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Jewish holidays have always been considered a sociocultural framework that designs the Jewish communal landscape. One such ritual is Tu BiSh’vat Seder, a ritual conducted annually by various Jewish congregations and social movements on the 15th of the month of Sh’vat. These communities conduct the ritual with its traditional festival symbols and infuse it with new social and cultural interpretations. This essay presents an ethnographic analysis of a Reform Tu BiSh’vat Seder in Israel in which the holiday’s spiritual narrative and symbols were related to the female congregants’ bodies and expressed their social interaction. Observing the women’s preparations for the Seder, participating in the performance of the ritual itself, and listening to the female Rabbi’s sermon allowed me to understand the diverse gendered meanings which are infused into the ritual. The Tu BiSh’vat Seder revealed the female congregants’ attitudes toward their own bodies and ages and even their attitudes toward one another. Furthermore, by participating in the Seder, they did not only produce sisterhood and feminine solidarity but also blurred the boundaries between their private homes and the congregational space. Thus, it can be said that the Reform congregation serves as a safe space that provides a viable Jewish theological framework and is an arena for gender discourses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-469
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Israel
  • Reform congregation
  • Tu BiSh’vat


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