The Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the “New Year for Trees,” is marked each year at Israel National News with a photo essay celebrating the beauty that grows in the Holy Land. Our featured photographer, Michelle Baruch, is a certified Israel tour guide (Apricot Tours) with a background in environmental sciences and international water management issues who enjoys nature photography. (all Israel news photos: Michelle Baruch)
Large Ziziphus tree growing on Tel Titura, probable site of ancient Modi'in, home of the Hashmonaim. Fifty cisterns and mikvahs were found nearby
It is on this day that we remember that “Man is a tree of the field,” (Deuteronomy 20:19) reaching out to connect with our brethren around the world through special holiday exports and events.
Olive trees and winter wheat growing in the northern Negev
The holiday, which falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Sh'vat in the Jewish calendar, falls this year on Thursday, January 20.
Lemon tree growing in a private garden in Givat Ze'ev
The day that marks the start of the “New Year for Trees,” Tu B'Shvat celebrates the season in which the Land of Israel's earliest-blossoming trees awaken from their winter slumber to begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
Pomegranates growing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem
A budding fruit is considered to belong to the new, or next year of a cycle beginning with the 15th of Sh'vat – an important consideration when calculating the seven-year Shemittah cycle in which the Land rests.
Dates growing at Kibbutz Negba
The day is marked by specifically eating the kinds of fruit that are specified by the Torah as indigenous to the Land of Israel – grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Often “date honey” is used as well, also known as silwan.
Sabras growing at Kibbutz Gat
In a comment on this year's essay, the photographer notes that Israel spans three main botanical regions – Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian and Saharo-Sindian parts. “As a result, the Land is blessed with a tremendous variety of trees,” she says.
Small bird drinking water from an irrigation pipe under a fig tree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
“A 100 years ago, three of the most abundant species in Israel were the Aleppo Pine – also known as the Jerusalem Pine – and the Kermes and Tabor Oak trees,” Baruch adds.
Old carob trees near Pardes Hanna
Dates, figs, carobs and pomegranates were, and continue to be common as well. “These trees are all featured in my photos this year,” she says.
The photographer adds that the recent tragic fire in the Carmel forest, which claimed the lives of 43 people, also destroyed “something on the order of four million trees. This photo essay is dedicated to the brave people who gave up their lives there,” she says.
Previous Photo Essays by Michelle Baruch