IJSS Celebrates Shabbot and Tu B’shevat

The Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists and historians think this helmet dates back around 2,600 years. (Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Well, we figured we had it all arranged. And then COVID, again! So, muster we did and asked our members their thoughts, and Zoom it was. Shabbat service was held on Jan. 28 via Zoom. Rabbi Laura Harari officiated.

All about Tu B’shevat and What Happens at a Seder?

The New Year for trees has a tax, go figure! In ancient times, Tu B’shevat was tax day. The plan was to pay the government for the number of trees on your property and for the number of fruits you were able to yield. Seders (ceremonial meals) became more prevalent after 1948, when the State of Israel was created, and the planting of trees was coupled with a respect for the environment. Combined with Jewish Earth Day the seder became popular. Almonds are the earliest blooming tree in Israel. It is at the time that they bloom that we celebrate Tu B’shevat. At the seder, the seven species of fruit are eaten as mentioned in the Torah. They are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives, and dates. Planting trees is also common during this time. The holiday is also a celebration of spring.

So, why all this? The Institute for Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS) was planning our first Tu B’shevat seder for members. We are postponed until next year for this event but certainly not forgotten.

A Bit of Jewish History—Did You Know?

In February 2007, a Greek bronze helmet was discovered in Haifa Bay. The warrior helmet is decorated with the imprints of a golden leaf, snakes, lions, and a peacock’s tail. It’s very decorative and unheard of for a common warrior.

The Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists and historians think the helmet dates back around 2,600 years. It is thought to be the property of a wealthy Greek mercenary, one who fought for the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II. The pharaoh is thought to have been heavily involved with several military campaigns in and around ancient Israel. These battles were mentioned in the Torah.

The helmet was discovered when commercial dredging operations were being held in the harbor. The proper authorities spent several years performing research to learn of its origins.

Both Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and John Hale, a professor at the University of Louisville, agree that “The gilding and figural ornaments make this one of the most ornate pieces of early Greek armor discovered.” Researchers were able to date the helmet due to its near similarity with one found near the Italian island of Giglio, about 1,500 miles away, in the 1950s.

Theories abound as to how the helmet ended up in Haifa Bay. Perhaps the warrior lost it off his ship or that the ship sank. Plans are to go back to the site and locate other archaeological material.

The helmet itself is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa. Source: Jewish Virtual Library—A Project of AICE (American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise)

IJSS is a small, active, and welcoming congregation. Our members are friends, and we are a close community. If you have questions or wish to join our congregation, feel free to contact Joan Elder at 520-360-1478 or Seth Eisner at 520-818-6340 for information.

IJSS welcomes volunteers. In the past, many of us have volunteered in our Jewish communities, and we hope that you will think of us now and in the future.