Good News Friday – Tu Bishvat edition

The day is short and I’m nearly out of time, but there is still  time to post a Good News Friday edition.

"My" almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

“My” almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

Tomorrow is the minor festival of Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shvat, considered “the birthday of the trees” in Jewish tradition. You can read about the festival in my post of last year.  One of the main signifiers of the festival is the blossoming of the almond tree – the Shkedia – which usually blossoms more or less exactly on Tu Bishvat itself. This year, being a lunar leap year, “my” almond tree across the road blossomed a week early. Nevertheless it is a beautiful sight to see. We shall celebrate tonight by eating (or trying to!) 15 different types of fruit at our Shabbat meal.

And in honour of the festival, our new baby granddaughter was named Shaked (pronounced Shah-ked). She is our little “Almond”. May she grow and blossom like the almond tree ad 120!

On the subject of Tu Bishvat, here are some fascinating pictures from 100 years ago via the Picture a Day website:

Below we see tree-planting around 1930:

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Below we see a group of Jewish British soldiers during WWI at a tree-planting in then-Palestine:

 Original caption:

Original caption: “A group from the 39th Battalion with workers and children from Ben-Shemen. 15th (of Shvat).” The sign quotes from Leviticus: “When you come to the Land, you shall plant…”

Besides the historical interest in these pictures, they provide extra proof that the Land of Israel was barren until the Jews arrived and took an interest in it and made it blossom. There are no “Palestinian” villages or farms or forests in any of the pictures above.

While we’re on the subject of trees, an Israeli discovery reveals that trees interact with each other, even sharing resources!

Trees are truly amazing. Besides producing nearly half the earth’s oxygen, providing habitat for millions of species, and creating the soil and timber resources we depend on, trees also do one more surprising thing: they share resources, Israeli researchers show.

Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Tamir Klein recently made such a startling discovery that his supervisors at first declared that the finding must have been a mistake. In the forest, trees are known to compete for resources such as light and nutrients, but Klein found that the same trees also engage in sharing.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Klein showed that the carbon molecules taken up by the canopies of mature spruce trees were passed through the soil in surprisingly large quantities to neighboring beech, larch and pine. As Klein recently reported in the prestigious scientific journal Science, the carbon was being transferred via “underground highways” formed by overlapping networks of root fungi.

“Neighboring trees interact with one another in complex ways,” Klein said in a statement. “Of course, there is a great deal of competition among them, but they also form communities, sort of ‘guilds,’ within which individual trees share valuable resources. In fact, trees belonging to a ‘guild’ usually do much better than those that don’t.”

This is astounding and fascinating! It is also bound to have great implications regarding climate change, global warming and scarcity of resources. Kol hakavod to Dr. Klein for this remarkable discovery.

And one last item, not connected to the festival, but simply some good news: SodaStream is to feature the Israeli flag on every one of its bottles with the message “made by Arabs and Jews working side by side” printed on it:

The SodaStream company has decided to feature an Israeli flag on all its products, which are sold in 45 countries.

“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” the company, which manufactures sparkling water makers for home use, said in a statement this week.

The Israeli flag is accompanied by the English message reading, “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”

SodaStream International CEO Daniel Birnbaum said that “as a proud Israeli company, we have always taken care to keep our Israeli profile high, even if that means fighting for our place in the face of the European Union and economic terrorism from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

“In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves under attack, apologizing and boycotted all over the world. We may not be perfect, but we have a lot to be proud of, and we decided to show that to ourselves and to the world.

“I’m proud to be Israeli, so I’m putting my flag on 50 million products manufactured in Israel and bringing an unusual message of innovation and social responsibility. I wish every Israeli exporter would put the flag on its products, and I wish every one of us who goes abroad would feel confident in being a proud ambassador for the State of Israel,” he said.

Kol hakavod to Daniel Birnbaum on his initiative and his patriotism. May the company, which has been through so much targeted hate, grow and succeed even more.

And now I wish you all happy Tu Bishvat, Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Birthday trees!

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2 Responses to Good News Friday – Tu Bishvat edition

  1. Pingback: Good News Friday – Tu Bishvat edition – 24/6 Magazine

  2. Reality says:

    Tu bishvat samech.At long last a healthy holiday!
    Shabbat Shalom

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