In the tradition of the season…
Click photo for a larger image
Some of our bounty now hangs in the sukkah.
Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
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14 October 2011
In the tradition of the season…
Click photo for a larger image
Some of our bounty now hangs in the sukkah.
Can you imagine needing a product that is produced far away, especially if you care about the process by which it is produced, perhaps for ethical reasons, and where you are uncertain whether the producers share your standards for proper processing? Of course you can, as nowadays you can buy tuna that is “dolphin safe” and lumber that is certified as not coming from rainforests, and of course, foods that are organic, gluten free, non-GMO, etc. The modern production and transportation chain of kosher foods also offers an obvious example.
One of the earliest examples of certification of production processes for a product traded from far away is the etrog for Sukkot. The etrog, a type of citrus fruit, can be grown only in very mild climates, such as those around the Mediterranean. Yet as centers of Jewish population moved northward in Europe, communities faced the challenge of ensuring that the etrogim they were purchasing met ritual standards.
Chief among the standards, as set by Ashkenazi rabbis, was that the fruit not come from grafted trees. Grafting was seen as a violation of the ban in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9 on sowing one’s vineyard with a second kind of seed. (Sephardic rabbis have traditionally been less concerned about grafting.) When a fruit tree is grafted, a small branch from a tree that produces a desired variety of fruit is inserted into the stem of a different but closely related “rootstock”. Grafting thereby ensures that the fruit to be produced by the grafted tree is an exact genetic replica, preserving standards of quality and consistency from tree to tree. Almost all of our commercially available fruit, as well as the great majority of backyard fruit, come from grafted trees.
However, if one wants fruit of an ungrafted tree for ritual reasons, one faces a problem: it is impossible to look at the fruit and tell whether it came from a grafted or ungrafted tree. One can identify a grafted tree if one journeys to the orchard, but the fruit carries no evidence of its parent tree having been grafted. Therefore, by about the 14th century, there arose a process of supervision and certification of citron groves. (more…)
The full moon, visible in the western sky above our sukkah shortly after sunrise this morning, day 2 of Sukkot.
12 October 2011
Sukkot is here!
07 October 2011
This is from Jeremiah 31:5.
Yes, Samaria. And, yes, this was written during the Babylonian exile, more than 2500 years ago. Not after 1967. Or 1948.
I point this out not because I believe that if the Hebrew scriptures say the land of the “West Bank” is ours, then it must be. In fact, it’s the other way around: the Hebrew scriptures say things like this because the writers were residents of the Land of Israel, including Samaria and Judea.
This important point is too often left out of the narrative about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Or it is left only to the religious Zionists, and other opponents of peace, to point out. It is not that Jewish “settlers” have to evacuate “occupied Palestinian land”, but that Jews must find a way to share with another people the very land on which our people was forged in ancient times.
I’m not a negotiator, or even a student of negotiations. But the narrative should be more like the one in the bold text than the one we normally see in the media.
Meanwhile, in these Yamim Noraim,3 a terrible crime was committed in Tuba-Zangaria, an Arab town in hills above Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). A suspect has been arrested.4 However, Judaism teaches that all of us are responsible as a community for the acts of any. This attack, during the Yamim Noraim, bring great shame to us all. What is an appropriate Teshuvah?5
Somehow we have to find a way to share the land. Mosques in Galilee and (Jewish) vineyards in Samaria are equally “legitimate”. May the coming year be the year we (at least start to) learn to live to enjoy them together.
28 September 2011
The “current moon” says we have a waxing crescent, at a mere 3% full. And I have it on good authority that the autumnal equinox was just last week.
All this suggests it is time to turn to a new year.1
May our endeavors for 5772 bear fruit!
09 September 2011
This is the Golden Rose Synagogue, or what is left of it.
The photo (taken by me) is from 2005. Built in the late 16th century, the Golden Rose was once one of the most important centers of Jewish life in the old Austro-Hungarian empire. It is located in Lviv, Ukraine (formerly Lvov, Poland, and before that Austrians and the Yiddish-speaking Jews knew the city as Lemberg). The ruins, as well as the near-absence of Jews in Lviv today, are a legacy of the Shoah (Holocaust).
I don’t know who is right, but this a key cultural landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It needs to be preserved.
The story has me wondering about the safety of another incredible synagogue that we saw, the 17th century Pink Synagogue of Zhovka (which is near Lviv).
Obviously, this building is far more intact. Just as obviously, it is (or was in 2005) in a very serious state of disrepair.
I went to look up “pink synagogue zhovka” in Google, and the first hit is my own Laderafrutal travel page! I could not find anything about its current condition, six years since I was there. Maybe no news is good news.
25 February 2011
Al Jazeera* quotes a message it received from someone in Britain, commenting on a pro-Sharia demonstration outside the Libyan embassy:
It’s a nice sentiment. I do not know about Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but there was indeed a Jewish community in Libya. It was one of the oldest communities in the world. However, virtually all of them fled following pogroms in 1945 and 1948. Gaddafi was a shoolboy at that time. All but a tiny number of those Jews who remained after Libyan independence in 1951 were gone after another round of pogroms following the Six Day War. This was, of course, during the reign of the king whose flag now flies over the “liberated” parts of Libya.
While liberation of Libya from one of the worst tyrants of our time will be a good thing, it will not mean the return to a time of inter-communal harmony, which in any case is largely mythical.
For recent updates on Jewish communities that still exist in the Arab world, the always excellent Point of No Return is highly recommended.
01 December 2010
May we rededicate ourselves to bringing light into the dark places. Happy Chanukah for this year 5771.
24 September 2010
In our sukkah, 5771.
“After the ingathering from your threshing floor and your vat, you shall hold the Feast of Booths for seven days. … the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy.” (Deuteronomy 16: 13, 15)
08 September 2010
In ancient Israel, an indicator that an extra, “leap,” month was needed to realign the lunar calendar with the solar in time for Pesach in spring was when the almond trees were not yet blooming by Tu Bi-Shvat–the second full moon after the winter solstice. However, I have a leading indicator right now: no pomegranates!
Tonight is the new moon closest to the autumnal equinox. So it is Rosh HaShannah. But pomegranates, a fruit often associated with the holiday, are not in the stores yet. Our own trees, moved from the former finca and pitcured below, are just getting established. That one fruit you see has since fallen and likely would not have been ripe by now anyway.
So while it feels like fall, it is not. In fact, with about two weeks before the autumnal equinox, this is about as early as Rosh HaShannah can be. It seems this new year will need an extra month to keep the lunar and solar in alignment.
In any case, here’s wishing everyone a sweet and fruitful leap year, 5771!
07 July 2010
The synagogue in old town Riga is really beautiful.
It has been fully restored within the past year. Amazingly, it survived the Nazi occupation and remained in use throughout the Soviet occupation.
11 December 2009
The sun is about to go down. Not that it is easy to tell. It is raining (!) and the clouds have been blocking the sun for a few hours already.
As the sun sets, it will be time to begin rededicating ourselves to bringing light into the dark places in our lives and our world.
04 October 2009
As I left the office about half an hour before sunset, to begin the long journey home (i.e. a hundred feet or so down the hill) for Erev Sukkot, this is the sight that greeted me.
Definitely a stunner. Then just a little later, the clouds parted, and the full moon was visible, confirming that it indeed must have been the 15th of Tishri.
The view the other direction was not too bad either.
We certainly are feeling the shifting winds of the season when rain again becomes likely, although as yet none has fallen here. It sure feels like fall, and a fine time to have nothing but joy (see 16:13-15) for the harvest that sustains us.
18 September 2009
The first jujubes have started to ripen. Just in time.
About three years ago we developed a Ladera Frutal tradition of using the jujube (also known as the Chinese date) as the Rosh ha-Shanah “first fruit.” It is perfect, in many ways. The fruit has some apple-like qualities, but in my estimation, is even better dipped in honey (which really should be date honey) than an apple is.
But more to the point, it always ripens right around the autumnal equinox, and Rosh ha-Shanah (literally “Head of the Year”) is the new moon closest to the equinox. Apples, on the other hand, go practically year around here.
As the photo above makes clear, jujubes grow on trees, and therefore there need be no worries about which bracha is valid.
The crop, of GA866 variety, is a bit light this year, though not quite as light as it appears in the photo. For some reason I took the photo after I had harvested. You can see one ripe fruit (brown) way up high in the tree. There are some light green fruit hanging on other branches; these will ripen into the new year.
Of course, we won’t eat any till after sundown on the first of Tishri!
May the new year be fruitful and sweet!
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F&V time: This blog's date function is so set as to start a new day at approximately local sunset. (Why, if we have "day" and "night," should a new "day" start in the middle of the night?)
FRUITS: Support your local, organic growers; and, plant vines and fig trees and pomegranates for the generations to come...
VOTES: For democratization and full representation, for environmental sustainability, social justice, and peace, always sincerely...
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