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.
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.
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.
Tu Bishvat agricultural celebrations were recorded in the land of Israel, long before the state was established.
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.
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.
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.
A special first-time event was held for Tu BiShvat at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.
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.
A candle was lit while special coverings covered the food.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it got down to the specifics of data collection, Hebrew or English, I was lost.
But at the meeting, they served beautiful fresh fruit platters with giant strawberries and pomegranate seeds.
Also, the dried fruits and nuts, and fresh dates for Tu BiShvat that looked good enough to share.
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.
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.
ט”ו בשבט שמח
Happy Tu BiShvat