Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

When we were young in the US,  Tu Bishvat meant a bit of bukser,  dried black carob pods, which were nearly impossible to chew.

image Israel tu beshvat, photo for Tu Bshvat , picture trees planted

Celebrating in Jerusalem is so very different and so much more tasty and colorful. 

Reuven and Nechama Rivlin Tu B'Shevat sedar at BEit Hanasi for One Family and agriculture growers

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.

Israel Knesset building flags, no people

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. 

View of Teddy Park with wall of old city

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?

Tu Bishvat dried fruit at night outside shop for sale

Outside on the streets, dried fruits and nuts were on display well into the night before the holiday.

Fruit decorated baked goods in shop window before Tu Beshvat

Fresh fruits top these luscious baked goods displayed in one cafe window.

Almond tree blooming in Jerusalem, Israel, in Valley of Cross for Tu Beshvat

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.

View of Palm trees at Belgium Embassy

I had noticed that the palm trees by the Belgium Consulate were cut back drastically.

Yemin Moshe trees Jerusalem Israel

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.

French Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel palm leaves brown

The palm trees in front of the old French Hospital did not look healthy.

US flag on City Hall in Kikar Safra

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.

Kikar Safra all palm trees cut down Jerusalem Israel

Today men are finishing up their work and removing the stumps.

Sawdust from palm tree stumps in Kikar Safra

The last of the stumps of the towering palm trees is being ground into saw dust.

Kikar Safra after diseased palm trees removed

Kikar Safra plaza is filled with wood chips, where the palm trees once towered overhead.

Jerusalem Old City from Jaffa Gate to Kikar Safra protected tree

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.

Tu Beshevat almond blossoms Jerusalem Israel

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.

Tu B’Shevat in Jerusalem

Tu B’Shevat in Jerusalem

Tu B’Shevat,

the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat,

is often called the “New Year of Trees,”

and marks the beginning of spring in Israel

and the birthday of the Knesset.

Growing up in the United States,

 I remember receiving dried, hard, brown carob pods

 called buxor to chew on, or rather to try and chew.

How different is Tu B’Shevat celebrated in Jerusalem!

Buksor for Tu B'Shevat

Thousands of carob pods fall to the ground untouched.

Stores are filled with many varieties of dried fruit.

Every year I have tried a different spelling of Tu B’Shevat,

so I know language translations are not simple,

Prunes with nucleus instead of pit on label

but “Dried Plums without a nucleus”?

In honor of Tu B’Shevat,

almond blossoms, Jerusalem photo tour

along with almond trees bursting into bloom,

let us see a bit of what is new for this year.

President Reuven and Nechama Rivlin hosted

a Tu B’Shevat seder for agricultural growers

and representatives of OneFamily.

Orphans who had lost both parents to terror participated with

Reuven and Nechama Rivlin Tu B'Shevat sedar at BEit Hanasi for One Family and agriculture growers

 red and white wines, wheat, figs, pomegranate, almonds

and more, and in the blessings, readings and song.

But that was a small and private gathering,

as for the real streets,

 Liberty Bell Park, foliage has been cut back.

Sculpture painted yellow in Liberty Bell Park

This old sculpture was painted bright yellow,

image Bell Park

but I hope they used better quality paint than this blue.

The new walking trails along the old train tracks

Bike path and walking trail from Old Train station to Malha Mall

will be filled with pedestrians and bikers.

New neighborhood gardens are being planted,

Community garden in Baka, Jerusalem , Israel

similar to this new community garden in Baka.

Long awaited, this improved play ground

Boy playing in new Jerusalem, Israel park

is appreciated for its play and climbing features,

and also for its accessibility features,

New play equipment in Jerusalem, Israel park

such as this swing.

A new and important addition are these shade covers

Fitness equipment in Jerusalem, Israel park

 and the fitness equipment.

It took months,

Park in Baka Jerusalem, Israel

 but this improved park will be busy soon.

Gan Sacher on Lag B'Omer

For years, Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,

was the main green space,

 then Gazelle Park opening two years ago.

Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park

has seen its share of picnics and protesters.

 Teddy Park became one of the most popular for its fountain,

Tower of David view from Teddy Park sculpture with boy taking photo of sky

but for photographers there is always a new angle.

Near by in Yemin Moshe,

Yemin Moshe tree replanted Jerusalem Israel park

 old olive trees were in dire need of re-potting.

And finally there is a serious effort trying to keep

these wonderful green spaces clean. 

There is much more happening, but for now,

Happy Tu B’Shevat from Jerusalem.