What’s New for Tu BiShvat in Jerusalem?

What’s New for Tu BiShvat in Jerusalem?

Finally, the sun came out and warmed up the cold, still wet Jerusalem streets.

The Tu BiShvat holiday was cold and rainy this year in Jerusalem.

ט”ו בשבט – the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, has close to a dozen ways to be spelled in English. Each year it is a problem and a challenge of how best to spell it.

An easier challenge is to find new ways to celebrate it in Jerusalem, Israel.

Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem Israel on a sunny spring day

In honor of Tu BiShvat, the New Year for Trees, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens opened its gates for free public entry, extending the holiday this year from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon. Walking the paths in the sunshine was a good way to warm up after days of bone-chilling cold weather.

Buksor for Tu B'Shevat

On Jerusalem streets, carob pods lie drying and unwanted on the ground.

Oh, how different than Tu Bishvat celebrations years ago in the United States.

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

Tu Bishvat agricultural celebrations were recorded in the land of Israel, long before the state was established.

Jerusalem Israel almond blossoms on tree

The songs we learned were about the shekediah, almond blossoms, bursting out. On the trees in Jerusalem, almond blossoms indeed burst out early this year after the wet winter season in spite of the cold weather, and before most other trees.

Israeli President Garden tree planted in January 2020 in honor of Prince of Wales visit to Jerusalem

One special new tree was planted in the Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s residence in the back garden. The dedication says, by President Rivlin “and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, as a sign of friendship between the two nations, and in recognition of the value of preserving and sustaining the environment and nature.” 26 Tevet 5780, 23 January 2020.

Table set for Tu B'Shvat

Tu Bishvat seders, special meals with four cups of wine, white and red and mixed are becoming more common. My friends set a gorgeous table, nothing common about her efforts or artistic talents.  The holiday food table was laid out for guests and everything tasted as good as it looked.

Malida at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

A special first-time event was held for Tu BiShvat at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem hosts Melida Tu Bishvat seder

A Malida table for Tu Bishvat set for a traditional ceremony originating from India.

The Ambassador from India to Israel Sanjeev Singla attended and wore a blue kippah. He spoke in English but said he hoped next year for Malida to know more Hebrew.

Lighting candle to begin Malida at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

A candle was lit while special coverings covered the food.

Malida ceremony at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem for Tu B'Shvat

Prayers were recited beginning with “Simon tov and Mazel Tov.

The words ended with a psalm at the completion of the ceremony. Then traditional foods were served.

It was an emotional evening. For the first time, Malida has been included as an official holiday.

For hundreds of years, Jews in India prayed of the Prophet Elijah and to return to the land of Israel. At this time Malida was being celebrated in Jerusalem in a meaningful public venue.

Night time view of new building Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

While the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are wonderful on a spring day, on a cold night not so much. However, on the quest for new this year, the new building was lit up on Tu Bishvat night.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The now impressive Botanical Garden, a former garbage dump, is looking ahead to take on social roles in the community.

The story of Honi planting a tree and seeing it 70 years later is an old rabbinic legend.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens lecture on tree production

Fruit optimization of every tree in an orchard is the story of the future. Now there’s AI, artificial intelligence, and ML, machine learning to track layers of factors to get maximum growth for trees and fruit production.

Tree maximum growth

When it got down to the specifics of data collection, Hebrew or English, I was lost.

Tu Beshevat fruit platter

But at the meeting, they served beautiful fresh fruit platters with giant strawberries and pomegranate seeds.

Tu Beshvat dried fruit and nut platter

Also, the dried fruits and nuts, and fresh dates for Tu BiShvat that looked good enough to share.

Cloudy night in Jerusalem Israel for super moon

Also, the Super Moon peeked out from behind the clouds on my way home.

A bonus to a few minutes without rain when walking.

Last year the President and the late Nechama Rivlin z”l hosted a Tu B’Shvat seder.

Tu B'Shvat JNF awardees at Beit Hanasi with President Rivlin

This year for Tu BiShvat the President hosted a special group from KKL-JNF.

Young people received awards at the event that highlighted inclusion.

One of my favorite moments on this busy Tu BiShvat week was at Beit Hanasi at the conclusion of the official program with the President. For the first time, I watched closely the signing of Hatikvah. Thanks to Shani for her special translation of the familiar words

Finally, a reminder to check out amazing Israel WildFlowers.

With attention to detail, and in English now, Sara’s website has a wealth of information.

And new for this Tu BiShvat, check out Hidden Blossom walks.

On the Jerusalem streets, throughout Israel so much was happening and new this Tu BiShvat. 

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

ט”ו בשבט שמח 

Happy Tu BiShvat

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

In Jerusalem, the barricades and barriers to keep the public away from world leaders are gone from the streets and sidewalks. People are out again on the streets when the sun appears.

When walking in Jerusalem and someone asks: “where is the museum?”

It is a safe bet to assume they mean The Israel Museum.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

So I point to the path up the hill to Jerusalem’s largest and best known Israel Museum.

However, there are dozens of museums in Jerusalem, Israel.

In the past week, four museums opened their doors for special events.

Winter day at the Tower of David in Jerusalem Israel

It was a rainy, grey day at the Tower of David Museum.

Over the years, this ancient military fortress has become a popular cultural spot, hosting a wide variety of events, exhibitions, and nighttime shows.

In October 2017, within the ancient stone walls, looking to the future, ToD launched its Innovation Lab.

The ToD is constantly looking for new ways and technology to engage young visitors with Artificial Reality – AR and Virtual Reality – VR, and Apps. Wearing special VR googles was not to be the final answer to get everyone involved with their surroundings.

MARS launch of interactive tour option at Tower of David

The newest storytelling-videos taking AR to a new level, launched last week, come from MARS.

Co-founder and CEO Ori Noam explained how his David and Goliath video, developed at ToD Innovation Lab, make the experience unique to the user.

MARS at Jerusalem Tower of David Museum launch

At the entrance desk, for a small additional extra fee, visitors  receive a tablet and earphones. Because it was raining outside, demonstrations had to be inside.

Tower of David Museum demonstration of MARS new tourist option using AR and MR

MARS lets visitors interact with Goliath as seen on this tablet screen.

Mars at Jerusalem Tower of David using tablet for tour option

Using sub-conscience triggers, MARS creates an experience unique to each family or visitor. And these days, of course, the mandatory selfie at the end.

Did you realize last week was Israeli Space Week?

The Bloomfield Science Museum was open two evenings free of charge in honor of Space Week.

Signs at entrance to Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem

Besides the currently running exhibitions on Leonardo Da Vinci and Journey to Space, Israeli Space Week attracted families with young children to the Science Museum. 

Balloon Astronaut at Jerusalem science museum entrance

A giant astronaut balloon hovered overhead at the entrance.

Leonardo Questions at Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem Israel

‘Leonardo’s Questions’ were displayed and answered in the main entrance area with Leonardo’s wings hanging above.

Space week at Jerusalem science museum

Upstairs on the third floor, I was able to get one image before the room filled with excited children. Oh, to channel all that energy.

Planetarium in Jerusalem Science Museum

The planetarium required registration to enter, but for photography, I think outside was better to see the black starlit dome.

Leonardo exhibit at Jerusalem Science Museum

‘Optics and Observation’ was one of the various rooms on the current Leonardo theme.

Meteor rock from Arizona desert in Jerusalem science museum

What would be a good space exhibit without a piece of rock from outer space?

Marc, a former employee of Griffith Observatory in California, held a piece of a meteor found in an Arizona crater. Visitors were encouraged to feel a piece of material that fell from space halfway around the world, right here in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has multiple private museums on a wide variety of topics.

Front view of Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem on cloudy day

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, BLMJ, is near the Science Museum and across the street from the Israel Museum.

Entrance to YEMEN exhibition at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

Its new exhibit is simply called YEMEN. The historical development of South Arabia over the centuries is shown in detail to cover all the senses. I was so impressed with a tour before it opened, I had to go back on opening night to see the finished exhibit.

A woman looks at ancient artifacts from South Arabia now Yemen at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

First, the visitor encounters ancient statues and artifacts used for burning incense.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem display of three popular fragrances of ancient times.

The Jews of ancient southern Arabia traveled over long distances by camel with myrrh, frankincense, and balsam. Here one can smell the aromas so important and valuable in ancient times and compare them.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem traditional food from Yemen at opening of new exhibit

I said all the senses. At the opening evening was this traditional Yemenite savory biscuit. I must admit it was not to my taste.

Yemenite man reading Hebrew book upside down in Naftali Hilger photo in Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

This is one of several powerful photographs by Naftali Hilger on display. Note the Jewish man from Sa’dah is reading a prayerbook upside down. Since books were scarce, children learned to read from multiple directions. Hilger’s photographs taken in the late 1980s add greatly to the exhibit.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibition

Rich colors, old ritual artifacts, and scrolls,

A woman looks at wall display at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibit.

and more recent content, such as this Jerusalem Street sign, add to the scope of Yemenite history.

The father of Batya Borowski, wife of BLMJ founder Eli Borowski z”l, came from Yemen to Israel in 1907. Zacharia Jamil was a talented silversmith and jewelry-maker like his father.

The exhibit with its warm hues radiates the warmth and love Batya Borowski and her daughter,  BLMJ Director Amanda Weiss, have invested in sharing a history unfamiliar to many.

Three rings made by father of Batya Borowski iZacharia Jamil on display in the Bible Lands Museum exhibition Yemen

Three rings made by Jamil are included in the Yemen exhibition.

Fourth and last is the L A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, which also has a new temporary exhibition.

Trespassing exhibit at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Titled “Trespassing” in English, meaning stretching boundaries, here are 3 examples of works by fifteen Israeli women, coming from religious communities:

Trespassing exhibition at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Muslim – Fatima Abu Roomi self-portraits,

Female Druze artist with special shawel on floor LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Druze – special shawl over a traditional home rug,

Shira Zelwer wax flowers and diorama

and Jewish -wax flowers and diorama.

The Museum of Islamic Art has historical pieces and a magnificent antique watch collection. 

Shira Zelwer wax figures from grandmother's photograph Islamic Museum

What stood out for me in the new pieces was this item. Shira Zelwer’s wax figures in the diorama are three-dimensional images reproducing a 1960’s photograph. They show her grandmother surrounded by the waiters of her catering business in Australia.

I fondly remember her grandmother in her later retirement years, still an active personality.

You never know what you will find on the Jerusalem streets or what memories in its museums.

Scene from YEMEN at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Israel

From ancient artifacts to futuristic technology, from Yemen to Australia, worlds coming together on the Jerusalem streets and explored and shared in its unique museum displays.

Preserving the Past, Promoting the Future, and Anchors Aweigh Jerusalem

Preserving the Past, Promoting the Future, and Anchors Aweigh Jerusalem

Jerusalem offers a wide array of activities before the new school year begins.

Searching for a good quote for “circus” I found “preserving the past, promoting the future.”

What could be more appropriate for Jerusalem, Israel?

Jerusalem Tower of David end of summer event Circus

What could be more appropriate for the Circus at the Tower of David?

Jerusalem Israel Tower of David Circus sign

In the venue of historic ancient stones, the past is carefully preserved.

The Circus being held this August is especially aimed at young families.

Encouraging. Enriching. Exciting.

Providing educational and enjoyable activities that promote the future.

Tower of David view of tables set for Shesh Besh competition in Jerusalem Israel

From the Tower of David, you get panoramic and dramatic views of Jerusalem.

From the top of the Tower of David, we could see the area above Mamilla Mall across from the Old City walls near Jaffa Gate was set and ready for a shesh-besh tournament.  Backgammon players of all ages were invited to enter the public competition.

The plaza area near Jaffa Gate was not the only place that was busy this summer.

360 Degrees music festival in Jerusalem Liberty Bell Park

The Liberty Bell Park was one of the locations of the 360 Degree music and theater festival.

Muslim woman standing with Jewish man at music event in Liberty Bell Park Jerusalem

Diverse populations attended these events that were open to the public and free of charge. This was a drum circle, with standing room also.

Muslim women picnic in Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem during a summer music festival

I took this photo of a young woman ready to do face painting for the children in the park.

If you look closely the women behind her are wearing hijabs and having a picnic dinner.

Jerusalem Israel Bloomfield Park scene from Measure for Measure - Shakespeare in Motion

In Bloomfield Park, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in Motion holds its last performances on August 25, 26, and 27. The annual theatrical event attracted the attention of Yiddish-speaking children who were in the park on family outings. Shakespeare is not taught in Israeli schools, and this is one fun way to preserve the Bard.

End of August summer activities at Hansen House in Jerusalem Israel

Hansen House, the old leper hospital, now the site of innovative programs, is presenting end-of-summer activities for families. Locals may be away, but a few children were doing activities in the Hansen courtyard. Sunday night was scheduled for a grand opening.

Sign for Sukkot 2016 Archaeological campus

Preserving the past, the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, had a grand opening almost three years ago.

Building of Schottenstein Antiquities Campus

The huge complex was meant to showcase Israeli archaeology.

Inside Antiquities Campus 2016

The innovative architectural designed building was to be home to researchers preserving the past. Visitors could watch work being done through glass walls.

Room in Schottenstein Antiquities Campus

Rooms were dedicated to each era and the ancient finds were to be on display.

valuable pieces in museum lower level Schottenstein Campus

Down in the depths, the most ancient and valuable pieces were to be preserved and displayed.

Archaeological Campus site near Israel Museum

The front still appears the same from the street as on our exciting initial visit, only now the doors are chained shut. It will take a huge new cash infusion to promote the campus in the future.

Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem Israel

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem (BLMJ) is next to the shuttered campus.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem main floor

BLMJ has rare antiquities carefully preserved and ancient relics on exhibition.

Exhibit at Bible Lands Museum on discoveries found preparing for new Beit Shemesh road

In the spring the Highway through History exhibit opened.

Beit Shemesh Road work halted because of major site underneath

Displays and photographs of the #38 Highway expansion are seen near the entrance.

Side of road where ancient site was found next to new road in BEeit Shemesh

However, driving by the site on the way to Beit Shemesh, was a very different experience.

Archaeological dig in Beit Shemesh where new road was to go.

I know they said it was big and close to the road, but as we drove by it was hard to capture how expansive the site is. Everywhere in Israel, preserving the past and promoting the future is a balancing act, as Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch and museum curators said at the opening of the Highway Through History exhibition.

The newest exhibit Anchors Aweigh opened this week.

BLMJ exhibit on Sea Ports of Holy Land

The exhibit is dedicated to seaports and is located downstairs in the museum.

Blue and white Israeli flag at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Israel

 Out of the Blue and with its blue threads was the previous exhibit on display in this space.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem exhibit on Ports 1800s

Fifty works of Holy Land seaports from the private collection of Yossi Gilben are on display.

Image of Ashdod port in 1839 BLMJ exhibit

This 1839 lithograph by D. Roberts is of Ashdod. What a contrast to the thriving city and port today.

Lithograph from 1839 of Gaza with soldiers near water in port

Troops heading north to Sidon are depicted in this D. Roberts lithograph, also dated 1839, in Gaza.

BLMJ image of Jaffa SeaPort in 1677

Jaffa was the closest port to Jerusalem. It was not a natural harbor and lacked deep water, so those arriving had to disembark onto small crafts to reach land. It was destroyed in the 13th century after the Crusade-era and remained in ruins for hundreds of years.

In the 15th century as more pilgrims came to the Holy Land they would spend a night or two in the ruins and head for Jerusalem. Finally, in the mid-17th century, the Ottomans allowed a small group of Franciscan monks to settle in Jaffa and care for European pilgrims. Later they were granted permission to establish a hospice.

This engraving by O. Dapper is from 1677 shows the port and citadel, along with some buildings, in German, Ioppen in Palestine.

The other seaports of Ashkelon, Haifa, and Caesarea are included in Gilben’s impressive lithographs and engravings collection which has preserved the past for us to enjoy now.

BLMJ old map that was printed in error with Mediterranean on wrong side

This map placed just outside the main room is from the collection of Batya Borowski.

Incorrect map of coastline of Holy land printers error

Jewish Holy Land with allotments of the 12 tribes in German is the title of the wood engraving by S. Munster (ca. 1550).

It was pointed out to us, that the map with the south on the upper area and the Mediterranean on the right side, was due to a printing error. It seems as back as the early days of printing, even those who honored and yearned for Jerusalem did not always get their facts straight, as they had never been to the Holy Land.

Leonardo DaVinci is featured at the Bloomfield Science Museum.

The Israeli Museum always attracts families during the summer holidays.

It is hot. Streets are almost empty of cars.

But as always good things are happening on and under the Jerusalem, Israel streets as the summer wanes.