It’s that time of year in Jerusalem.
From winter cool and rain, flowers are popping up and out.
When we were young in the US, Tu Bishvat meant a bit of bukser, dried black carob pods, which were nearly impossible to chew.
In past years, President Rivlin hosted Tu Bishvat seders, but he is in Greece this year, being hosted by the Greeks in presidential-style receptions.
Tu Bishvat is also the date the Knesset opened in 1949. For the 50th year in present location, Tu Bishvat was celebrated in big way.
Parks and planting were my themes last year.
Teddy Park was lovely today, the fountain was going as two young men took photos.
In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, renovations are slowly being revealed. I hope that in addition to these new cement tables and benches more trees will be planted, many were lost in snowstorms.
My dilemma was: what can be new this year, other than the using a different English spelling for ט”ו בשבט, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat?
Outside on the streets, dried fruits and nuts were on display well into the night before the holiday.
Fresh fruits top these luscious baked goods displayed in one cafe window.
With the warm and wet winter, almond trees were in bloom in time for Tu Bishvat this year.
Then this morning a friend wrote of a deadly threat to Jerusalem’s towering palm trees. The red palm beetle, a native of the Far East, has come here from Jordan and attacked our palm trees.
I had noticed that the palm trees by the Belgium Consulate were cut back drastically.
It was a bright sunny day, so I set off to see for myself. There were dead leaves hanging on these palm trees in Yemin Moshe.
The palm trees in front of the old French Hospital did not look healthy.
Last month when I was in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, I took this photo of the large flags on display. I noticed the palm trees at the other end of the plaza were surrounded by blue barriers used for crowd control. Now I regret not taking a photo.
Those towering trees were taken down in the middle of the night, after a diseased one fell.
Today men are finishing up their work and removing the stumps.
The last of the stumps of the towering palm trees is being ground into saw dust.
Kikar Safra plaza is filled with wood chips, where the palm trees once towered overhead.
The walking path from Kikar Safra toward Jaffa Gate has a palm tree protected by a fence, and the sidewalk is built around it. Trees are important enough to build around them.
Even before the State of Israel was founded, trees have been important. The JNF, the Jewish National Fund, raised money to plant trees to make the barren land green.
Tu Bishvat is called the New Year for Trees. This year we will need a lot of new trees to replace those that were lost.
But on this happy holiday, I can not end on such a sad note. It was a beautiful day to be outside. All around Israel, people are planting new trees.
The almond trees are blooming. The sun was shining after days of rain. I met friendly tourists from South Africa who assured me that South Africans really do like Israel.
So Happy Tu Bishvat!
I am going to eat some dates, this year they were plentiful and inexpensive, so we got a big box.