What Everyone Should Know about Bursting Amygdalus Communis in Jerusalem

What Everyone Should Know about Bursting Amygdalus Communis in Jerusalem

The first thing to know is that amygdalus communis is the scientific name for the almond tree.  With Tu B’Shvat, the song of “almond trees bursting out” (or flowering) can be heard throughout Israel in school classrooms sung by small children wearing floral wreaths on their heads.

Every year when I review and remember past celebrations of Tu B’Shevat, I stress over how to spell ט”ו בשבט in English. I have found 8 options and already used two here.

Every year I want to bring to you something new and interesting.

Dried fruit and nuts fill the stores and markets as every year.

Carob tree near Paris Square in Jerusalem Israel

Carob trees tower over many Jerusalem, Israel streets. This tree is near the Prime Minister’s Residence. I wonder how many of the thousands protesting there noticed it?

For those of us who grew up in the US, Tu B’Shvat meant getting a piece of dark brown, dried out bokser.

Hard to chew and unattractive, why would anyone want to eat it to celebrate the holiday?

Buksor dried on sidewalk on Jerusalem Street

Along Jerusalem streets in time for Tu B’Shvat, there are piles of dried pods fallen from the trees, with new growth peaking its way through.

Knesset opened on Tu Beshvat

The Knesset opening and birthday are held on Tu B’Shvat. In honor of 50 years in its present location, in 2016 a major celebration was held.

Knesset synagogue in 2016 for Tu Bishvat

There was a special afternoon service in the old Knesset Synagogue followed by wine and fruit.

JNF 1928 photo of Girl Guides celebrating Tu Bishvat in jerusalem Beit Hakerem

These Girl Guides were celebrating Tu B’Shvat in Jerusalem in 1928, on an outing in Beit Hakerem.

Since Biblical times almonds, amygdalus communis, have been a sign of spring, a sign of new life and God’s promise.

“When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. -Numbers 17:7

Tu Beshevat almond blossoms Jerusalem Israel

Almond, the first tree to flower before winter’s end, symbolized fast-moving events. “…the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home…” -Ecclesiastes 12:5

Anyone interested in the nature and the environment of Israel, with the special emphasis given to the linkage between the plants and Jewish traditions and literature, will appreciate the Hebrew website Wildflowers of Israel.

In addition, their English pages have a wealth of information. Hours of dedicated work have gone into research and photography devoted to the study of wild plants of the Land of Israel, a point of interest for people all over the world since Biblical times. In spite of Israel’s small size it has 2,500 plant species. There are about 100 plants mentioned in the Bible, and about 400 mentioned in the Mishnah and the Talmud.

Thanks to Sara Gold, my contact whenever I need information on a flower or plant. (I know next to nothing about Israeli flora and fauna.) Who knew aloe plants flowered?

In honor of Tu B’Shvat – I searched for the almond – Amygdalus Communis.

rakefet, flowers of spring in Jerusalem Valley of Cross

I searched in the Valley of Cross on the path to the Israel Museum, and there were no almonds bursting forth, but I did find these first flowers in bloom.

Safra Square, Jerusalem municipal government plaza

I went to see what new trees were planted in Kikar Safra, Safra Square.

Old City Jerusalem Israel walls tall palm trees

Thankfully some tall palm trees survived last year’s infestation and are standing tall.

Beit Hanasi flowers in Presidential gardens jerusalem Israel

I searched the gardens at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, and there were no almonds bursting forth, but these new potted flowers were enjoying the morning sun.

Kumquats ripe at President gardens Jerusalem Israel

In the Beit Hanasi gardens there are 60 olive trees, a line of kumquat trees ripe with fruit, but not one almond tree.

Lemon tree growing in Jerusalem Israel

Our lemon tree is full of ripe fruit too.  In my search this year, I found no almond blossoms in Jerusalem. It is still too early. They really do seem to burst out when they appear.

So it seems as of now, the best place to search and find those bursting Amygdalus Communis is Wildflowers of Israel – HERE.

Tu B’Shvat is to be celebrated beginning the night of January 20, and on January 21.

Jerusalem Martin L King Street sign with trees in background

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, falling the same day this year, here is a new photo of the Jerusalem street sign with trees in distance.

Fog in Jerusalem Israel so thick to obstruct view of Monastery, bird perched outside window.

Snow is in the forecast for Jerusalem. Rain has started to fall. After sunny morning weather, this photo is again appropriate.

Jerusalem weather and politics are hard to predict. Both can change quickly.

UPDATE:

Snow in Jerusalem Israel at night during storm

When snow started coming down, I grabbed phone and ran outside. This was best photo of predicted snow storm, to see real snow, back to 2015 HERE.

Shabbat shalom Tu B'Shvat

But greetings of a happy Tu B’Shvat and Shabbat Shalom, are good to be repeated every year.

3 Suggestions to Enjoy Jerusalem in Stormy Weather

3 Suggestions to Enjoy Jerusalem in Stormy Weather

This time of year, in Jerusalem, Israel, with the beginning of the Hebrew month of Shevat and the approaching “New Year of Trees,” we anticipate new growth and spring.

First flower of spring in Valley of Cross

Walking yesterday toward the Knesset, I spotted the first wild flowers in bloom.

New paths are being prepared through the Valley of the Cross.

There are no blossoms on the almond trees yet, but new olive trees have been planted.

New benches in Valley of Cross bike path

New benches have been placed along the new walking and bike path under development.

Israel National Library cranes with Knesset in background

The Knesset rises beyond the construction site of the new National Library.

Fog in Jerusalem Israel so thick to obstruct view of Monastery, bird perched outside window.

But then the weather turned from sunny to rainy and cold. Thanks to this bird who perched outside my window, I had something else to photograph other than the grey foggy sky.

People ask, “What is there to do when it is too nasty to be out on the Jerusalem streets?”

Here are three of the easiest answers to this often asked question:

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem – BLMJ

Bible Lands Museum main entrance Jerusalem Israel

BLMJ main galleries take visitors back to the earliest civilizations.

Judea and Samaria archelogical finds

A new exhibit opened with pieces  looted from archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria and recovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Judea and Samaria finds on display in Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Israel

Each piece has a story, going back many centuries.

 The Israel Museum 

Across the road from BLMJ, one sees the dome of the Shrine of the Book, the home of Dead Sea Scrolls.

Israel Museum antiquities menorah from synagogues

In the Israel Museum, the largest of Jerusalem’s dozens of museums, are collections of ancient Jewish life in the land of Israel.

Israel Museum mummy

Learn about ancient Egyptian Mummies on a audio-guided tour with the latest modern technology.

Israel Museum children's room

Of late, Jerusalem museums have taken a special interest in attracting and engaging children.

Israel Museum Jerusalem children's wing

Multiple exhibits provide young people opportunities to explore and learn.

 The Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem 

Science Museum sign Jerusalem Israel

The science museum had special exhibits on fire for Hanukkah, which were very popular the last days when it was raining.

Jerusalem Science Museum

Check in with information when you enter.

Science museum new exhibit

There are exhibits which are temporary

Safety equipment on display at jerusalem Science Museum

and are constantly changing to engage young minds.

Science Museum exhibit to make and launch paper airplanes

Makerspace was in the main hall on my last visit.

Jerusalem Israel Science Museum

Young people were encouraged to design and fly their own paper airplanes.

Science museum reading corner

There was a reading section called Challenge and Risk.

Science Museum exhibit Fields of Tomorrow

Notice that everything in these museums is in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

Science Museum in Jerusalem Israel colorful light

Colors and technology are used to attract visually,

Science Museum two boys at exhibit

though sometimes simple things can be made interesting too.

Outside area of jerusalem science museum

Outside areas are much more popular when the weather is pleasant.

Outside play area Jerusalem Science Museum

Play areas outside change regularly and are designed to teach basic scientific principles.

Jerusalem Science Museum dinosaur

This new age dinosaur can be found on the grounds outside.

Science Museum in Jerusalem Israel

I do not think this is the tree of knowledge.

Jerusalem Science Museum play area

But there is no better place to start for toddlers to explore and learn.

These museums, located near each other, have places to eat, and provide more than shelter.

But I must repeat my warning, if you are supervising young children,

do NOT try and do any of the amazing Jerusalem museums if you are a tired adult.

Another piece of advice: check museum hours before going, as they vary day by day.

If you do not have membership, there are days free for children, but costs vary and can be expensive.

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However, in honor of Space Week, the Bloomfield Science Museum is offering free entrance.

Even if Jerusalem is warm and the sun is shining, worth checking out.

Enjoy!

 

Jerusalem: Looking Forward 2019

Jerusalem: Looking Forward 2019

At the end of December, with each calendar year, many ‘best’ and ‘worst’ lists are published.

After spending considerable time thinking about it, in the end, I decided to let 2018 just slip away.

As the sun set on December 31, 2018, the skies over Jerusalem, Israel, were a blaze of color.

sunset

Walking home, I could tell it was going to be dramatic end for 2018, and was not disappointed.

The red horizon  popped with color on numerous photos I saw posted on Facebook.

Jerusalem Israel flowers

January not only has red sunsets popping with color, but purple flowers lining so many streets.

Yemin Moshe as seen leaving Zion Gate Old City Jerusalem Israel

January skies can be blue one minute,

Walls of Old City grey sky Jerusalem Israel

but then turn around a few minutes later to become grey and threatening.

Jerusalem Christmas decorations

With the Christian Orthodox Christmas still to be celebrated in January, holiday decorations still line the streets inside the Old City; these are near Jaffa Gate.

Woman in white bridal gown in Rova

This young woman dressed in a white bridal gown attracted a second glance.

Tourist groups filling Rova in Old City Jerusalem Israel

A record numbers of tourists arrived in Israel in 2018. The plaza in front of the Hurva Synagogue was full with hundreds of tours, large and small.

German couple in Old City Jerusalem Israel

I met this couple from Germany who stopped to look out from the Old City.

Jewish boys on sports court in Old City Jerusalem Israel

The sounds of these school boys at play below got our attention.

School children having lunch near 4 synagogues in Jerusalem Old City

The numerous tour groups included school children; these first graders came from Pardes Chana for the day.

Jerusalem four synagogues in Old City

They stopped for a lunch break near the Four Sephardic Synagogues in the Jewish Quarter.

When Jordanian Legion captured and occupied the Old City in 1948, all the Jewish residents were forced out.

Then Jordan proceeded to take over all Jewish property, and destroyed or occupied all of the synagogues.

The Four Sephardic Synagogues established centuries earlier were restored after 1967, and put back to use as Jewish houses of prayer.

From 1977, only an arch stood, where the rebuilt Hurva Synagogue, dedicated May 15, 2011, stands today.

Synagogue in Old City left destroyed by Jordanians in 1948 תפארת ישראל

Tiferet Israel was the only remaining destroyed synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem, as seen in this 2010 photograph.

Jordanian Legionnaire on rubble of destroyed Synagogue in Old City Jerusalem 1948

A Jordanian soldier stands on the Tiferet Israel ruins in this 1948 photo by Chalil Rissas, which was part of the Tower of David photography exhibit.

Wall of destroyed Tiferet Israel synagogue beginning repair

On January 1, 2019, this is how the outside wall of Tiferet Israel looked.

Inside Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue as rebuilding begins

Inside a construction crew was busy working on its reconstruction and restoration.

Jerusalem Israel synagogue Karaite

Tiferet Israel is across from the Karaite Synagogue, one of the oldest in the world.

Street off Rova where Tiferet Israel Synagogue is being rebuilt

For those who have walked the streets of the Old City, Tiferet Israel will rise above the “main street” which leads to the Western Wall, the Kotel, from the Rova, the Jewish Quarter Plaza.

Or maybe easier to visualize, it is next to a better known landmark, the shwarma place.

Photo of Tiferet Israel synagogue in future

The project to rebuild and replace the synagogue destroyed on May 21, 1948 is finally underway.

steps down to Tiferet Yisrael synagogue

The laying of cornerstone of the new old Tiferet Israel took place on December 31, 2018.

Hopefully it will not take 10 years to complete as did the Hurva rebuilding.

View from Citadel Hotel to Mamilla across the road. Jerusalem Israel

Hope you enjoyed this quick stroll through a few favorite Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Teddy Park Jerusalem Israel

I will conclude with this bit of Teddy Park I passed on way my way home.

Most people today do not realize, all of this was either under Jordanian rule or in No Man’s Land from 1948-1967.

Mount of Olives Cemetery from Old City near Zion Gate

Jerusalem, Israel, with its ancient sites, and always with something new.

As the pretty  purple flowers bloom, we look forward to 2019.