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.


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.

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.


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.

Pray it Forward

Pray it Forward

This is not a regular RJS post with a pretty photo and good wishes.

Sometimes you see something and think, “wow, that’s special.”

What a feeling when you find out it is bigger and better than you originally thought.

I saw an idea on Facebook and decided to help promote a 15-minute prayer session.

A virtual, international prayer group to show support and love for Ahava Emunah.

#HealingWithLove   #TogetherForAhava   #PrayItForward  – easy I thought.

I had done dozens of #Happylanche in honor of Ahava Emunah in the past.

Poser of flowers for #happylance

Perfect for after the holidays, unity, good will and good wishes from around world.

So the Facebook Group Together for Ahava was formed.

Facebook group together for Ahava

Link to join HERE  

But, that is only beginning of this story.

One of the first comments was:

I don’t pray daily anymore
I don’t wake up at 5am unless I have a really important flight that I was forced to take
I don’t wear a kippa anymore
I don’t keep Shabbat anymore
I don’t really believe praying for onesself works
…But I will be praying with all you lovely people with all the Love and Faith I can muster for the refuah of our dear friend and the healing and joy that will bestow upon her dear family ❤️❤️❤️🙏🙏🙏

Wow, I thought this is better than I thought.

But, then Shira emailed me her story, the reason behind this initiative.

Wow is not powerful enough for this!

4 years I nearly died.
I was with my husband and kind on my annual trip to the United States to visit my parents, siblings, and extended family.
I only get to see my family once a year, so I always look forward to this 2 week visit.

But in 2014, things went terribly different from my regular trips.
Four days after landing, and while standing at the Kiddush for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I suddenly, out of nowhere, felt like someone punched me right in the stomach.
It was the freakiest experience in the world.
Like it happened totally out of nowhere.
And then, within seconds, I felt freezing.
I remember asking my brother if he wouldn’t mind lending me his suit jacket.
And then I felt like I was going to throw up.

Hundreds of friends and family came from far and wide to celebrate with us and I felt like a strange stomach virus was coming on.
I took myself home immediately, thinking I needed to be close to a bathroom.
My parents followed and strongly encouraged me to go to a hospital.
As the non-medicine/hospital person that I am, I told them this would pass.
It was only a stomach virus.
A 24 hour thing.
Plus, what hospital in America would take me? I was on traveler’s insurance and had no idea what that would even cover.

The next day, I was begging my husband to get on the phone with the insurance company in Israel and tell them – I. NEED. A. HOSPITAL.
Two days after being admitted to the hospital and having endless CTs, MRIs, ultrasounds, blood tests, and failed attempts at laproscopy, the physicians, surgeons, and specialists were stunned and stumped as to what was going on.
And then, I went into septic shock.
All my systems stopped working.
I was dying.

Decisions were made for me without my consent.

The next thing I would remember, 36 hours and two major abdominal surgeries to extract all the pus that was covering every organ in my abdominal area later, they gave it a name.
Spontaneous peritonitis.
I was told 1 in 3 people usually die from it.
I had survived, but was clearly not anywhere close to seeing the light.
I would be unable to get out of bed, unable to stand, unable to pass gas, and unable to eat.
I would be on a feeding tube for two weeks while in the hospital.
I would be unable to communicate verbally to any of the doctors.
I was in the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced in my life – nothing remotely compared to any of the 4 natural childbirths I had gone through.
Visitors came.
But because of the pain, I kindly asked to limit them to nearly none.

And so, I was alone.
And I felt alone.
And scared.
And confused.
I was filled with many, many questions.
Why me?
Why this?
How am I going to take care of my kids when I can’t even get out of bed?
How am I going to take an 11-hour flight back to Israel?
What about school for the kids? It starts next week!
And Avi Chai starts first grade!
This can’t be happening!

I cried a lot during that time.
A lot.
Cries of self-pity and victimization.
And I’ll never forget when a rabbi friend of mine came to visit, just for a few minutes.
I assumed he would just ask how I was doing.
Or ask what I need.
Or tell me that God is watching over me.
Or something like that.
But, he didn’t.

He told me he was praying for me.
Shira Bracha bat Malka.
He was using MY name in HIS prayers.
And not only that, he said the entire community was praying for me.
The. Entire. Community.
Shira Bracha bat Malka.
I was speechless.
Could it possibly be that people are taking time out of their very busy days and lives to pray for me?
People that don’t even know me?
People that have never heard of me?
They’re praying for ME?
It was something unfathomable.

You see, I did not grow up religiously observant.
Praying (let alone praying for others) was not something familiar to me.
Why would people, who don’t even know me, pray for me?
The enormous sense of gratitude and love that was instilled in me in that very moment brought me to tears.
One minute prior, I was feeling alone.
One minute later, I was feeling enveloped in a world of hope.
And faith.
That I would get through this.

Even if it would mean my husband would have to take our 4 kids back to Israel alone.
Even if it would mean using a walker for the next month and then a cane for the next four.
Even if it would mean telling my boss I’d need to take a sick leave.
Even if it would mean not being able to carry anything heavier than a glass of water for the next six months.
Even if it would mean not being able to stand upright or use any of my stomach muscles for the next several months.
Even if it would mean staying in the United States and not seeing my kids for the next two months.
I would get through this.
We would get through this.
Because hope and faith were instilled me by people praying for my healing.

Around the time that I was sick in the hospital, I stumbled about Ahava Emunah’s blog (a fellow ImaKadimanik), who for the past six years has chronicled her experiences as she “runs with” stage 4 cancer.
I immediately subscribed to her blog because I knew this was a superb human being.
Over the past few years she has courageously confronted her illness with optimism, resiliency, and super-human grace.
She has inspired me, and so many others in this group and around the world to bring love, gratitude, and faith to our lives.

I cannot come close to describing in words how Ahava Emunah has touch my life and the life of so many others.
Whether you know her or not, a magical opportunity has been created to virtually participate in a 15 minute segment of space-time (no matter where you are in the world), next Tuesday, October 9th (Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan) at 3 PM Israel time.

A critical mass of sincere hearts will (virtually) coming together to raise their voices in support and prayers of healing for Ahava Emunah Lange.

I will never forget how the power of prayer helped me in my journey towards healing.
I would like to pay that forward and do the same for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta.
If you would like to join this virtual experience, please comment below and I will send you the details.
Thank you.

Consider joining us on Tuesday. HERE is FB link. Please share with your friends.
For those interested Tehilim, Psalms 1, 6, 13, 20, 102 and 130 are suggested.
Also, a GoFundMe Fund was started by friends see: HERE