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.

UPDATE:

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.

Favorite Sukkot of Sukkot

The Sukkot holiday is over and as the tourists are heading home,

 I would like share a few favorite Sukkot from this year.

warning sign

In some neighborhoods there were so many visitors

that warning signs were posted asking for quiet.

In the Nachlaot neighborhood, 

Sukka

I found this tiny sukkah down a narrow lane

Sukka

and another one almost hidden up on a roof top.

sukkah

At the Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza, where there was a large sukkah 

as well as smaller ones for the huge crowds of visitors.

peres

The public was invited one morning to visit the sukkah at Beit Hanasi,

the official residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Arriving inside the building after a long wait outside,

Israel president

 many stopped to peak in 

to the President’s Official State receiving room,

sukkah

before passing through to the sukkah.

sukka

As usual the President’s sukkah was not designed for eating,

but rather for showcasing the fruit and agricultural wonders of Israel. 

sukka

Many hotels had large sukkot, where thousands of visitors ate.

large sukkah

The large sukkah at Kikar Safra, Safra Square,

looked the same as in recent years, but

sukkah decoration

inside it was decorated with unique decorations using recycled plastic.

sukka

Sukkot ranged from the most simple,

sukka

to a ‘political’ sukkah on poles,

sukka

to this colorful beer bottle decorated bar sukkah.

Perhaps the biggest difference from last year was Jaffa Road.

Jaffa Street

Jaffa Road was lined with sukkot and crowded.

The Jerusalem light rail trains were running and filled with people,

last year they were going, but filled with sand bags on trial runs.

Jaffa Road

The city center was busy day and night.

sukkah

Our sukkah was a busy place too, I just wish it hadn’t rained

so hard during the main course at dinner the first night. 

sukkah

It was indeed a very happy Sukkot holiday in Jerusalem, Israel.

If you missed it perhaps, next year in Jerusalem?

Jerusalem, Past and Future

The spring holiday season has just ended with

Shavuot and Pentecost falling on the same Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of people came from around the world

to celebrate peacefully in Jerusalem.

"picture Wailing Wall","photo Jerusalem", "image birds"

Something was making the birds crazy,

but otherwise it was a quiet, beautiful day,

  so there was hardly a mention in the mainstream media.

What image comes to mind when you hear the word Jerusalem?

"picture Jerusalem", "image Jerusalem, "photo J Street"

Perhaps it is the ancient walls of the Old City?

"picture Jerusalem","image flags", "photo Israeli flag"

But Jerusalem is a place of contrast and diversity, and is constantly changing.

"picture Safra Square", "image flags" , "photo J Street"

Just before the holiday weekend, I went to Kikar Safra, Safra Square

"sign image","photo Jerusalem", "Jerusalem picture"

 to the City Council meeting room for an exciting event.

The Jerusalem Business Network Forum Bio-Med  a group

formed to bring science industry to Jerusalem,

 launched the Burrill Israel Fund.

"picture Nir Barkat","photo Jerusalem mayor","image mayor Jerusalem"

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed Jeff Miller,

special advisor to Burrill & Co, who announced a $200,000,000

“super angel”  fund for Jerusalem Bio-Med development. 

The fund is backed by Steve Burrill, an US investor

who loves Jerusalem and invests in health care,

which he prefers to call “sickness and wellness.”

"picture Jerusalem deputy mayor", "photo Jerusalem", "image deputy mayor"

Deputy Mayors Naomi Tsur and Yitzchak Pindrus addressed the crowd

that included scientists, entrepreneurs, and lawyers.

Before entering politics, Mayor Barkat

was involved with development of the first internet firewalls

 and has worked to bring hi-tech and bio-tech industry to Jerusalem.

 Jerusalem is  known for science study and research.

  HUB (Hebrew University Biotech) has lab space for start-ups,

but until now Jerusalem 

has not been associated with the “Start Up Nation” image.

One fascinating innovation that was discussed was a device

enabling doctors to see under the skin before making surgical incisions.

"image Jerusalem", "photo city hall", "picture people talking"

People stayed for hours talking at the end of the meeting.  

The Mayor’s wish to see Jerusalem as a future center of  bio-tech

and to take “talent to the next step”

is  a step closer to becoming a reality.