On the bike ride in Adullam Park.
(photo credit: ILAN BIGAN)
It is hard to imagine as we brace ourselves for a cold and wet week ahead that we will be celebrating Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees. As most Jerusalemites can attest, the weather here can change quickly, and we may even see some local almond trees begin to blossom in the next few weeks.
In fact, in the Eila Valley near Beit Shemesh, you can already see beautiful green pastures and almond tree blossoms on the side of the road.
If your children are not attending a traditional planting ceremony with their youth movement on Monday, what can you do with them to commemorate this special day in Israel? The capital’s main family event will take place on Monday in the Gazelle Valley and will be run by the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. Families are invited to plant small trees throughout Gazelle Park. All the supplies will be provided, and the planting is free. The event begins at 1 p.m. and, as the saying goes, “while supplies last.”
Kibbutz Tzova is another wonderful place to celebrate Tu Bishvat, with its natural beauty and family-focused activities. On Friday and Saturday, the Kiftzuba amusement park will host a Tu Bishvat-themed scavenger hunt to the ancient olive oil press, with a variety of prizes for families. If you prefer to celebrate with chocolate (who doesn’t?), you can enjoy the Tu Bishvat- themed chocolate workshops at Galita, decorating chocolate trees.
The Jerusalem hills surrounding Tzova are a great place to see blossoms and appreciate nature. On Saturday, leaving from the Tzuba Hotel lobby, you can choose the Hug the Tree family hike or the hike to the ancient winepress, where you will learn about agricultural techniques of old.
Also on Saturday, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are hosting flower planting, special garden tours, fruit-themed art workshops and a photo competition for families. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Religious families are welcome to purchase tickets in advance and take part in the garden tours on Shabbat.
For a self-guided Tu Bishvat experience, you can head out to Adullam Park in the Eila Valley and rent bikes. Ride through the green hills and see more than just almond-tree blossoms. This is an area near Jerusalem that is especially beautiful in the winter and spring.
The holy city also features a variety of exciting family parks where you can create your own Tu Bishvat celebration. Grab some baskets of dried fruit, now available at all grocery stores, and head out to the Monster Slide Park or the new activity park across the street from Ein Yael along Hamesila Park.
For families looking for a more traditional celebration, the Tu Bishvat Seder offers participants a chance to learn about renewal, growth and the significance of the fruits from the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat. For adults and older teens, a community Seder will take place at the Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies in Katamon and the Ramban Synagogue in the Greek Colony Ramban Synagogue on Sunday evening, as well as at local community centers.
So as soon as you see the sun peek out from behind the clouds, take advantage and celebrate Tu Bishvat by honoring the new trees and the beauty of nature in Jerusalem.
• The writer, founder of Fun In Jerusalem (www.funinjerusalem.com), lives in the capital with her husband and three kids and loves to inspire family fun. email@example.com