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 Covered in White

Jerusalem Covered in White

Jerusalem, Israel, covered in white.

Why is it? What is it?

The world loves to see photos of snow in Jerusalem!

This past week Jerusalem awaited the arrival of nearly fifty world leaders.

Knesset covered in snow in February 2015 storm

Five years ago the snow made for impressive images.

Valley of Cross in Jerusalem Israel covered in snow

The Valley of the Cross looked like a scene from Europe rather than the Middle East.

This week temperatures dropped as the rain pounded down for days, seemingly without end.

However, though forecast, no snow fell to cover the Jerusalem streets.

Interval of sun during rainy days in Jerusalem Israel

A few white clouds occasionally let the sun peak through on Tuesday at Beit Hanasi while awaiting the first of the international world leaders to meet with President Rivlin.

Australia Governor General David Hurley meets Israel President Reuven Rivlin

Governor-General David Hurley was the second of twenty-seven world leaders the President hosted in private meetings at his official residence, over the few days before and after the Fifth World Holocaust Forum (WHF). Close to fifty world leaders converged on the Jerusalem streets for the WHF, which met for the first time in Jerusalem, Israel.

Preparations for tent outside of Beit Hanasi for world leaders to pose for photograph

High-level delegations could not use the main entrance on Tuesday. A white tent covered the entire outside area. The ground was wet from a day of heavy rain. On Wednesday night at the dinner hosted by the President, the official photo was taken here.

Jerusalem Israel Nasi Street ready to host world leader dinner

Outside on Wednesday evening, white security tents and screens covered the length of Rechov HaNasi.  There was no snow in Jerusalem, but a white security screen covered many streets.

What a difference two years made!

Two years ago for the UN initiated Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Prime Minister spoke to Ambassadors in the synagogue at Yad Vashem.

This year, marking the 75th year since the liberation of Auschwitz and the 5th WHF, royals and presidents and world leaders converged on the Jerusalem streets.

Sun set in Jerusalem Israel

At least as the sun set there was a bit of color in the grey sky.

Lights along path into Zedekiah Cave for press event

Zedekiah’s Cave was lit up with a thousand candles for a Wednesday night event for the  media.

From the cave on a large screen, the main event dinner at Beit Hanasi was projected.

View of dinner hosted by President Rivlin for 40 international world leaders

White linen and beautiful white flower arrangements were on the tables as the President spoke.

Jerusalem Israel Old City walls with a projection

Walking home I went past the Old City walls near Jaffa Gate. Special lights and special colorful projections lit up the night.

Jerusalem streets closed for world leaders staying at Jerusalem hotels near old City

Great idea to walk home, as major streets near hotels were closed to the public.

Jerusalem street without traffic near Har Herzl

The next morning on Har Herzl this street was open, but the public was scared away.

Jerusalem Israel security preparing

Security units were deployed on Jerusalem streets early on routes to the main Thursday events.

White security tents in Yad Vashem parking lot

The closed parking lot at Yad Vashem also had white security areas.

Inside Yad Vashem buildings white security barriers were erected.

Jerusalem Israel view from Yad Vashem

International television crews had panoramic views of the Judean Hills from Yad Vashem.

Fog covering the view of Jerusalem as TV reporter speaks from Yad Vashem

But reporting in the afternoon, the fog on the hilltop made for a white background.

Interview of Rena Quint a Holocaust child survivor

Holocaust survivors were at Yad Vashem to speak to international media.

Walter Bingham at Yad Vashem telling his story of survival and success

German-born Walter Bingham attended as both a child survivor and a working member of the media. Bingham, 96-years young, is proud of his status as world’s oldest working journalist.

Main ceremony of Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem Israel at Yad Vashem

The main live-streamed event was held in a tent constructed on Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Plaza.

View of Yad Vashem at sun set day of World Holocaust Forum

White security tents and barriers could still be seen at the entrance to Yad Vashem as the sun was setting.

Jerusalem Israel Yad Vashem

With so many world leaders attending, the official Israeli black diplomatic vehicles were called in to use, as were dozens of white cars, lined up to take participants away at the conclusion of the ceremony.

But that was not all!

There was much more of the white security tenting.

Gan Sacher for Leningrad Memorial dedication

At Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, covering what had been the dog park, were white tents.

Already on Monday night Gan Sacher was preparing for Thursday afternoon’s dedication of the Leningrad Memorial with Russian President Vladimir Putin attending along with Jerusalem and Israeli leaders.

Roller blade park in Gan Sacher painted white before Leningrad Memorial dedication

The Roller Park looked like a swimming pool from rain, but the graffiti had been painted over, all nice and white.

Inside of white security tent in Gan Sacher for Leningrad Memorial dedication with Putin attending

Inside the main tent at Gan Sacher was the dedication ceremony held before the WHF.

What a week it was! Then the rain stopped.

First flowers in Gan Sacher park in Jerusalem

The white flowers popped out of rocks in the midday sun.

Construction worker in Jerusalem Israel Gan Sacher Park

Construction workers were back in the park and smiling.

Gan Sacher Park in Jerusalem preservation of trees

Trees near the Leningrad Memorial site were still in their protected white coverings.

Jerusalem Israel park white security tent for Leningrad Memorial dedication

The main white tent was still covering the area of the dedication.

Metal security barriers taken down

Metal security barriers were being removed from the park.

Jerusalem Israel roller blade park open

The Roller Park was open, but empty with fences still white.

Jerusalem Israel dog park moved for Leningrad Memorial dedication

This is the Gan Sacher temporary Dog Park.

White security tent for Leningrad dedication in Jerusalem Sacher Park

The levels and layers of white security tents for Leningrad Memorial were still being removed.

I tried to get inside and failed.

publicity image for Leningrad Memorial in Jerusalem park

So for now here is the publicity photo posted, but it shows only part of the tall monument.

Jerusalem Israel walking and biking path near Gan Sacher

Walking home it was good to see a wisp of white cloud and blue sky.

Israeli flags on Jerusalem Israel street

Blue and white flags being displayed to line some major streets, was one of many things that held up traffic this past week.

Now back to normal!?

Gan Sacher will have barriers up again.

The Jerusalem streets will soon be closed again.

Jerusalem Marathon training man and young children

Runners of all ages are out training – and getting ready.

March 20, 2020, as 40,000 runners will fill the Jerusalem streets.

The Jerusalem Marathon launch was also last week.

Official tee shirt for the 2020 Jerusalem Marathon

Tens of thousands of these white shirts will be seen as runners race through the Jerusalem streets for the 10th Jerusalem Winner Marathon.

Of course, there was much more happening this past week, but that will have to wait for next time.

Old City Walls Alive with Sounds of Jerusalem

Old City Walls Alive with Sounds of Jerusalem

It’s raining in Jerusalem, Israel, a cold and grey Friday winter day.

But when the weather cleared on Wednesday evening, before all the world leaders arrived for the World Holocaust Forum on Thursday, I decided to walk home from Jaffa Gate.

Here for you to enjoy, two video projections on the Old City Wall opposite Mamilla Mall.

These scenes of Jerusalem were enhanced by the inclusion of music.

This flags video with welcome greetings is longer. See how many languages you know!

Good thing I decided to walk home that night.

Jerusalem Israel street closed at night

The main streets were already closed near popular hotels.

What a week it was in Jerusalem with royalty and presidents and international heads of governments gathering to commemorate the Allies victory over the Nazis and 75th year of liberation of Auschwitz.

We remember. Never again.

A Hebrew blessing from the President of Germany to begin and end his speech!

Who could have imagined such scenes in Jerusalem 80 years ago when the British turned European Jews seeking refuge away from the shores of Mandate Palestine?

More next time, so much happened this week on the Jerusalem streets,

but now its time to start the challah and chicken soup for Shabbat.

    שבת שלום

Shabbat Shalom