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!
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,
but “Dried Plums without a nucleus”?
In honor of Tu B’Shevat,
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
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.
This old sculpture was painted bright yellow,
but I hope they used better quality paint than this blue.
The new walking trails along the old train tracks
will be filled with pedestrians and bikers.
New neighborhood gardens are being planted,
similar to this new community garden in Baka.
Long awaited, this improved play ground
is appreciated for its play and climbing features,
and also for its accessibility features,
such as this swing.
A new and important addition are these shade covers
and the fitness equipment.
It took months,
but this improved park will be busy soon.
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,
but for photographers there is always a new angle.
Near by in Yemin Moshe,
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.