One of the most impressive sights this week,
was the rainbow over the Jerusalem, Israel, streets.
Certainly the largest and brightest I have ever seen,
no photos do it justice, hope it was a good sign.
It’s raining. It’s pouring.
It was so windy I refused to go outside.
Jerusalem, Israel, was bone chilling cold.
The eastern US coast was buried under mountains of snow.
But it was Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees,
in spite of the winter weather today.
Scenes from last week,
seem much more appropriate for this holiday, than grey fog.
The flowers in pots were overflowing,
outside of Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s House,
for all to see.
Inside, the row of former Israeli Presidents greets visitors,
and the resident cat was enjoying the sun.
This cat is there all the time,
but most people do not get to enjoy the gardens.
Therefore, in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees,
I took special photos to share the landscape with you.
Trees line the left front walk way inside,
while flowers are on the right side of the entrance.
Tu B’Shevat is about the new season of fruit trees.
Olive trees grow in several places,
the orange trees were bursting with fruit,
as were the kumquats.
Special visitors plant trees, even if it is not Tu B’Shevat,
and one tree came from the White House.
Flower beds were looking good,
now that Shemitta year of no planting has ended,
but one lone rose was all I saw.
First Lady Nechama Rivlin is a proud savta, grandmother,
and for Tu B’Shevat invited school children to Beit Hanasi.
The cat checked out her short presentation,
but did not hang around to help,
as planting in her new community garden began.
Tu B’Shevat is not a time in the synagogue,
but outside planting.
Glad I was there when the sun was shining!
Now we are ready and waiting for snow,
never know what will happen next in Jerusalem.
In case you think I was exaggerating,
this is not snow,
but morning fog on road to Knesset,
ready and still waiting for snow.
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat,
was not a big holiday outside of Israel.
Chewing on a piece of bokser, a hard, dried out, dark brown carob pod,
was the highlight of the international Jewish experience
of this holiday known as the New Year of trees.
In much of the northern hemisphere,
the months of January to February, when Tu B’Shevat falls,
is the dead of winter and spring buds seem far away.
But in Israel on Tu B’Shevat flowers are blooming.
In 1949, the Knesset held its first session on Tu B’Shevat.
Therefore, the 67th birthday of the Knesset,
and 50th year in present location, was celebrated
along with Tu B’Shevat, though it was a few days early.
JNF had hundreds of small plants lined up on the sidewalk outside
ready for visitors to take home.
The day was overcast and sky was light grey,
the wind was great for flags.
In spite of the cold,
it was a great photo op for thousands who came all day long,
from young children to seniors.
There are regular public tours of the Knesset.
But this was not a regular day,
but a huge public birthday bash.
To hear the tour guide in the main plenary.,
was only one of dozens of things happening.
A Green Knesset display greeted visitors at the main door.
The main Chagall Hall is usually empty,
or set with rows of chairs for special events,
but for this special day
tables and chairs were set up like a cocktail party.
People could sit and enjoy the music
performed by professional musicians, and, for a special treat,
members of the Knesset showed their talents too.
MK Bezalel Smotrich played the piano,
while MK Stav Shaffir played and sang.
At the other end of the hall
was a Knesset model made out of Lego,
and thousands of Lego pieces for anyone
to make their own masterpiece.
Members of Knesset read stories to children,
produced jam in the cafeteria,
and sat for interviews with media.
I did not stop long enough to hear what Arab MK Tibi was saying.
Down the hall this group was sitting around
one of the games taking place around the building.
The sounds of music led us to
this dairy restaurant, turned into a Music Cafe for the day.
Talks and lectures were scheduled,
one was to be held in the main auditorium.
In the Knesset Synagogue,
there was a special mincha, the afternoon service.
Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern
joined Knesset members, staff and guests.
After the prayer service,
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef spoke.
Tu B’Shevat treats were enjoyed by everyone.
Lining one of the corridors were the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s
posters on the history of Jerusalem.
People of Hope was the title of one poster.
On a day when the mood and weather outside were both ominous,
these young people from communities all over Israel,
including bus loads of Arab high school students,
joined to celebrate the birthday of the Knesset.
It was truly a sight to see.
Tu B’Shevat plants for all,
the scent of herbs to enjoy.
People of Hope,
praying for so many years to return to Jerusalem.
In the past,
Tu B’Shevat for many meant giving money to plant in Israel.
This year in Israel, JNF gave me a plant.
67 years Knesset,
50 years in present location,
Tu B’Shevat celebrations have just begun,
much more next week.
Last week in Jerusalem, Israel,
during the rainy weather days
it was possible to take a color photo of the new String Bridge,
that looked like it was black and white.
But then the sun came out,
Jerusalem’s street cats returned to bask in the sun,
and this cat was back on guard at Beit Hanasi,
the Israeli President’s residence.
Families with school-age children
are busy trying to find the best school
for their child’s education, and space is limited.
But for others,
there was time to go by Teddy Park
and watch the water in the fountain rise and fall.
The weather was sunny,
no one went into the water,
but nice enough to just sit on the ground and relax,
in this new park across from the Old City walls.
Cloud formations this time of year make for interesting photos.
The views of Jerusalem are constantly changing:
this large fenced-off cleared area
and construction site across from the Central Bus Station
are signs of work well under way.
Posters are up announcing plans for
drastic changes to the entrance of Jerusalem,
with multiple building towers and a new fast rail system.
City construction goes on deep underground
long before it is obvious to passers-by above.
Meanwhile, a walk along Jaffa Road
shows new construction rising from the old
and some familiar old scenes.
Jerusalem of old
is constantly changing.
When the sun shines,
it is time to get out and get around.
Isn’t it time for you to see it for yourself.