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Monday, September 26, 2016

Rosh Hashanah: New Year, New Fruits

Summer is coming to an end. Jerusalem nights are cooler and days grow shorter. The end of the summer is also a harbinger of the new fruits which signify the change of season and start of a new year.

In another week - October 2nd - Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5777, with a festive family meal. The pomegranate will make an appearance on the table along with apples and honey and other traditional foods as we bless a sweet and fruitful new year.
Black Pomegranates last week

Olive trees are are also weighed down with fruit which will be harvested in another month when the country celebrates its olive festivals. Ripe pomegranates are hanging on the trees and fresh juice is being sold all around the old city
Red Pomegranates in Yemin Moshe Last week
Although the pomegranate is an ancient symbol steeped in tradition, it has re-emerged in contemporary culture, not only because of its beauty and rich history, but because the pomegranate is desirable for its healthy, antioxidant qualities. The word pomegranate, "rimon" or granade in Hebrew, is derived from the Latin words "pomum" (apple) and "granatus" (seeded). Grown in the Mediterranean region for several thousand years, this remarkable fruit is rich in symbolism and there are specific references to the pomegranate in the Bible. Together with the olive, grape, fig, date, wheat and barley, it is one of the 7 species of the Land of Israel mentioned in Deuteronomy 8-8.

Exodus 28:33-34 states that images of pomegranates be woven into the hem of the robe worn by the High Priest in the Temple. Pomegranates can also be found in the Bible in I Kings 7:13-22, where the fruit is depicted on the capitals of the two pillars which stood in front of the temple.

Image result for ivory pomegranate
First Temple (?)Ivory Pomegranate Israel Museum
In Christianity paintings of the Madonna and Child prominently display the fruit - a symbol of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life. Ancient Egyptians were buried with pomegranates in hope of rebirth.

Pomegranates in Islam are a symbol of harvest, wealth and wellness. The writings of the Quran refer to the fruit in three different instances and each time giving the sense that it's talking about a great harvest, land of plenty and being good stewards of what has been provided.

Whatever you believe, one thing is certain, olives and pomegranates are important part of the landscape of this land and I, for one, am very happy.

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