Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi T. sent us an urgent letter in advance of
Tu BeShevat. "We will never forget Tu BeShevat 5760, and I
would like to tell Yated Ne'eman why, in order to
make it clear to the public how great the danger is.
"Last year a very unsettling incident took place in our
family. A two-and-a-half-year-old was sucking raisins and
one of them got lodged in his throat. He began to choke,
stopped breathing and turned blue. It was a terrible
experience and only through chasdei Shomayim was he
spared, through the intervention of a Hatzala volunteer who
happened to be in the building at the time and managed to
remove the foreign object and perform artificial
respiration. The Magen David Adom ambulance driver who
arrived eight minutes later told us we had experienced a
great miracle. If 2-3 minutes had transpired without oxygen
reaching the brain, it would have caused permanent brain
damage; if 4-5 minutes had gone by the child would not have
"As Tu BeShevat approaches, I implore the public not to
ignore this terrible danger, so that we do not sound the
warning cry after it is already too late. Don't let children
go anywhere near Tu BeShevat nuts and dried fruits!"
According to guidelines issued by B'Terem, the national
center for child health and safety, children under the age
of four (and for those who want to observe the mitzvoh of
venishmartem more stringently--children under the age
of five) should not be given any of the following foods:
All types of nuts and fruits are strictly forbidden. Popcorn
is especially dangerous because of its shape. Gum, hard
candy and lollipops (!) can get sucked in whole. Hot dogs
should be sliced lengthwise and not cut into short segments.
Other dangerous foods include fish with bones; round fruits
such as grapes, olives and raisins; cake with pieces of
almonds or walnuts; and chunky peanut butter.