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PA-PM Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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PALE OF SETTLEMENT.

In 1791, the Tsarist government of Russia designated certain districts in which Jews were allowed to reside. The pretext for this restriction was the need to “protect” the Russian people from Jewish influence. Until 1910, this policy of restricting Jewish rights of residence continued. Sometimes the Pale was enlarged; other times a given city or village was withdrawn from the Pale. Restrictions, changing from time to time, were placed on Jews living inside the Pale as well. They were forbidden to lease land or keep taverns in villages. They had to pay double taxes, and they were barred from higher education. Only after the overthrow of the Tsarist government in 1917 was the Pale of Settlement finally abolished.

PALESTINE.

The area now occupied partly by the State of Israel and partly by the Palestinian Authority was called Palestine by the Greeks and Romans, after the Philistines who lived in the southern coastal region.

PALEY, GRACE (1922-2007).

American short story writer and poet whose stories capture the idiosyncrasies and idiom of New Yorkers. Her Collected Stories appeared in 1994, her Collected Poems in 1992.

PALEY, WILLIAM S. (1901-1990).

Founder of the Central Broadcasting System (CBS), a radio and television network. He revolutionized the television industry by taking the programming away from the advertising agencies and investing it in the network itself. During World War II, he served as deputy chief of U.S. war propaganda in Europe. His foundation supported the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel as well as many other causes in Israel and the U.S.

PALMACH.

Acronym for Plugot Mahatz, or shock troops. Serving as the commando units of the Haganah, Palmach members were recruited mainly from the agricultural settlements and city high schools. Organized in 1939, they carried out daring missions. They rescued thousands of Jews from Nazi Europe, running the British blockades of Palestine in the “death ships” of the “illegal immigration” period. During the chaotic period when the British were prepared to abandon Palestine, the Palmach guarded the settlements and highways. In the War of Independence its members bore the brunt of the Arab attack. A large proportion of them lost their lives in action. In 1949, Palmach was absorbed by the Israel Defense Forces. Many of its commanders, including Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan, and Yitzhak Rabin, became leaders of Israel.

PANAMA.

The first Jews to reach Panama were merchants, including Spanish and Portuguese Jews who first settled in the Caribbean Islands. Because of the unhealthy climate and poor living conditions, most of them fled the isthmus. The small permanent community which remained grew only when the U.S. began building the Panama Canal in 1904. In 1998, there were about 5,000 Jews in a total population of almost 3 million. They engage in trade and industries. The majority lives in Panama City, but there is a small community in Colon, the Pacific terminus of the Canal. Both communities maintain synagogues and are affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish National Fund, and Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO). (See also Delvalle, Arturo.)

PARADISE.

See Heaven and Hell.

PARAGUAY.

Republic in South America. Immigrants from Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France established a small Jewish community in Paraguay around 1900. Refugees from Nazi Europe swelled its ranks to 2,200 by 1940. Lack of economic opportunities led most of the refugees to emigrate after World War II. The Jewish community of Paraguay now numbers 900 out of a total population of 4.8 million. It maintains three synagogues, none of which has a rabbi, as well as Zionist and youth groups.

PARIS.

Jews have lived in Paris since the 6th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the city was a center of Jewish learning and home of a famous Talmudic academy. By the 14th century repeated persecutions had weakened the community; it was finally banished with the rest of French Jewry in 1394, although Jews continued to live in Paris illegally. In 1791, they finally gained civil and residence rights. When Napoleon organized French Jews in centralized “consistories,” Paris became the hub of French Jewry. As the community grew, synagogues, schools, and charitable organizations were established. At mid-century, the extensive banking and commercial activities of financiers like the Rothschilds and the Pereiras, as well as the political eminence of men like Adolphe Cr

PARKER, DOROTHY (1893-1967).

American poet and short story writer, noted for her quick and biting wit and sense of irony. A member of the famous Algonquin group, her most famous story is Big Blonde.

PARNAS.

From Greek. The president and secular leader of a congregation. In Talmudic times a man of merit and scholarship was appointed parnas to administer congregational affairs. In later times, the office was given to men of wealth and influence. Beginning in the Middle Ages, some communities elected the parnas annually, even monthly.

PARTISANS.

In World War II, many resistance groups from different nationalities throughout Europe fought the Nazis. Among them were Jewish groups, who fought either on their own or as part of other national groups. Such groups began to operate in Eastern Europe as early as 1941, mostly in the forests in White Russia, Poland, and Lithuania. Later, they were absorbed by the Russian partisans on the Soviet side, while in Poland they continued to operate on their own. In all, there were more than 20,000 Jewish partisans, many of whom showed great courage and resourcefulness in fighting under difficult conditions and with scant arms against the German war machine. The song of the Vilna partisans, Shir Ha-partisanim, is sung every year on Yom Ha-Shoah.

PASCIN, JULES.

See Art.

PASSOVER.

In Hebrew, Pesach. Anniversary of Israel’s liberation from Egyptian bondage. The holiday begins on the fourteenth day of Nisan and lasts for eight days. It reminds each Jew that if God had not freed his forefathers “he and his sons and the sons of his sons would still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.” Passover is also Hag Ha-Aviv, the Festival of Spring, the first of the three holidays when the agricultural population of Israel set out on a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. They brought an offering of barley in thanksgiving for the spring harvest. (See also Omer.)

The matzot, or unleavened bread, which gives Passover the name Hag Hamatzot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is eaten in memory of bread prepared by the Israelites during their hasty flight from Egypt, when they had no time to wait for the dough to rise. Since no leavened bread or food containing leaven may be eaten during Passover, special dishes and household utensils are used during the eight-day observance. Laws are prescribed for the cleaning or scalding in boiling water of utensils which are used throughout the year but also on this holiday.

On the eve of the 14th day of Nisan, the ceremony of B’dikat Hametz, the search for leaven and its removal from the house, is performed. Inspection for hametz is done by candlelight wherever food is usually kept or eaten. On the morning of the 14th day of Nisan, the hametz is burned as a special benediction is recited. This observance is called Bi’ur Hametz, the removal or burning of hametz. The day preceding Passover, the fast of the firstborn takes place to commemorate the “passing over” of the Israelite homes by the Angel of Death on his way to slay the firstborn Egyptians. In ancient times, the paschal lamb was slaughtered to recall the fact that God spared the Israelites.

While the holiday is celebrated for eight days in the Diaspora, in Israel it is observed for seven days. The first and last two days of the holiday are more festive than the four intermediate days called Hol Ha-Moed, or half-holidays. On the first two nights of Passover, the Seder (literally, “order”), the central event of the holiday, is celebrated. On this occasion, the Haggadah, or narration, is chanted as the events of the Exodus from Egypt are told and Israel’s gratitude to God for its redemption is expressed.

The Seder service is one of the most colorful and joyous occasions in Jewish life. It is adorned with ancient ceremonies and symbols which recall the days when the Children of Israel were liberated from Egypt. It also evokes hope that despite present trials and tribulations there is a brighter future for the Jewish people. The family gathers around the Seder table, on which are placed the traditional ceremonial objects. The Seder service begins with the Kiddush. The youngest son of the household asks the “Four Questions,” and all participants read the Haggadah in reply. During the Seder, traditional melodies are chanted and age-old ceremonies are performed. The Seder plate, or ka’arah, displays symbolic foods. Each one commemorates events connected with Passover. The roast egg stands for the festival offering at the time of the Temple; the roast shoulder bone, or z’roa, for the paschal lamb; bitter herbs, or maror, for the bitter lot of Jews under Egyptian bondage; haroset, a mixture of ground nuts, apples, cinnamon, and red wine, represents the clay with which Jews worked to make bricks; the parsley, or karpas, dipped in salt water was considered a delicacy in ancient times.

The three matzot which are placed on the table represent the three classes of Jews: Kohen (priest), Levi, and Israelite. The middle matzah is broken in two. One half called the afikoman, Greek for “dessert,” is hidden until after the meal. It is customary for the children to steal the afikoman and ask a prize for its return. The “stealing” enlivens the Seder service. The afikoman is the last food eaten. During the seder each person drinks four cups of wine, representing the four expressions of redemption used in the Bible. A fifth cup of wine, representing Vehayveiti—“And I will bring you in­to the land…”—is the cup of Elijah, reserved for the prophet. According to tradition, Elijah visits every Jewish house on the Seder night to herald the coming of the Messiah. The chanting of Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs) adds a spring-like atmosphere at the end of the Seder service. Symbolically, it is a song of love between God and the people of Israel.

PATRIARCHS.

Biblical ancestors of the people of Israel; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are known as the Patriachs. Their wives, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, are the Matriarchs.

PAUKER, ANA (1890-1960).

Daughter of a rabbi, Pauker became a communist leader. In 1947, she became foreign minister of Romania. In the 1952 purges she lost her government and party positions.

PAUL

(died ca. 65 C.E.). Key figure in establishing Christianity as a world religion. St. Paul was born Saul of Tarsus, a Jew who persecuted the new sect known as Christians, then later converted to this religion. He played a critical role not only as an effective proselytizer, but also as a religious thinker who modified the teachings of the new sect to make them easier for the people of the Greek and Roman world to accept.

PE.

Seventeenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerically, eighty. With a dot it is sounds as p; without, it corresponds to f.

PEERCE, JAN.

See Music, Jews in.

PEKI'IN.

Village occupied by Druzes and Jews, northwest of Safed, Israel, near the hills of Upper Galilee. Unnoticed in their valley, Jewish farmers remained in Pekiin for centuries, successfully resisting the successive armies of Roman, Crusader, and Bedouin invaders. Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his son Eliezer are said to have taken refuge from the Romans in a cave in Peki’in. Recently, the Jewish community has developed into a well-equipped moshav ovdim, or smallholders’ settlement.

PENNSYLVANIA.

Of the 282,000 Jews in the state, 250,000 live in the Philadelphia area, and 40,000 live in Pittsburgh. Smaller communities exist in Harrisburg (7,000), Scranton and Wilkes-Barre (3,200 each), and Lancaster (2,500). Jewish life started in Philadelphia in 1738 when Nathan Levy bought a burial plot. It started in Pittsburgh in 1760. Jews played an important part in the Revolutionary War. In the 1850’s there was an influx of German Jews, and in the Civil War more than 500 Jews served in the Union Army. In the early years of the 20th century, close to 100,000 Jews arrived in the state from Eastern Europe, giving rise to today’s large urban communities.

PENTACOST.

See Shavuot.

PENTATEUCH.

From Greek, literally, “fivefold.” The Five Books of Moses. (See also Bible.)

PERES, SHIMON (1923- ).

Israel political leader and cabinet member. Brought to Palestine from his native Poland in 1934, he was a founder of Kibbutz Alumot, and from 1941 to 1945 was general secretary of the Labor Zionist Youth organization. During the War of Independence, he headed Israel’s fledgling navy. In 1950, he joined the staff of the Ministry of Defense and in 1956 helped plan the Sinai Campaign. Eventually, he rose to the rank of Deputy Minister of Defense, a post he held from 1959 to 1965. During those years the Defense Ministry took over Israel’s armaments industry, expanded the aircraft industry, and made headway in nuclear development and research. From 1974 to 1977, he was Minister of Defense and briefly served as acting Prime Minister between the resignation of Premier Yitzhak Rabin and the election which brought Menachem Begin to the premiership. In 1979 and 1984, Peres was elected as head of the Labor Alignment in the Knesset, and headed the opposition. From 1984 to 1986 he served as Prime Minister in the Labor-Likud government. Until 1990, he was Finance Minister under Yitzhak Shamir. In 1992 Labor returned to power with Rabin as Prime Minister and Peres as Foreign Minister. He was instrumental in bringing about the Oslo Agreement in 1993, which resulted in a peace process with the Palestinian Arabs, and for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 Rabin was assassinated, and Peres became Prime Minister. He was, however, defeated in the early elections which he called for in 1996. He resigned as leader of the Labor Alignment and was replaced by Ehud Barak. In 2006 he was appointed Vice Prime Minister in Ehud Olmert‘s government.

PERETZ, ISAAC LEIB (1852-1915).

Yiddish and Hebrew writer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of both modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature. He was also one of the first major Jewish writers to find beauty, moral strength, and a new, happier approach to life in Hasidism. Peretz was influenced early by the Haskalah, or Enlightenment movement, and turned to secular studies. For some time he practiced law. In his sympathy with the plight of the poor suffering masses, he was attracted to socialist ideals. His sensitivity to injustice and the social evils of the world eventually found expression in his creative writing. His short stories brought Peretz lasting fame. They came to be considered among the classics of Yiddish literature. His tales of Hasidism and of the common people are gems of poetry and humor. In them, he glorified the heroism of humble folk and the unbounded faith of rich and poor, exalting the life of the righteous. Among the first to point a finger at social injustice, Peretz wrote Bontche the Silent, a folk tale of great delicacy and compassion. For sheer beauty, delicate humor, and forcefulness, Peretz’s stories, such as The Wondermaker, The Zaddik of Nemirov, The Treasure, and The Three Gifts, have few equals. Many of his stories have been translated into English. Maurice Samuel’s Prince of the Ghetto is a fascinating study of Peretz and his work.

PERLMAN, YITZHAK (1945- ).

One of the great violinists of the century, Perlman was born in Tel Aviv where he received his early training and continued to study in New York. Handicapped by polio, he nevertheless performs with great vigor and mastery, thrilling audiences around the world. He has special interest in Jewish music, which he has performed with klezmer bands.

PERU.

See Iran.

In the 16th century, Lima, the capital of Peru, was the home of a wealthy and flourishing Marrano community. These Jews, who had converted to Catholicism to escape expulsion from Spain in 1492, had fled to the New World in the hope of finding greater freedom to practice Judaism. Their great wealth, amassed in international trade, soon aroused the envy of the Spanish rulers. In 1569, an Inquisitorial Office was founded to detect the heretics and confiscate their property. In the course of two centuries, after 34 public burnings of “heretics,” the Inquisition succeeded in eradicating the entire Marrano community. In 1870, Alsatian Jews settled in Lima and quickly assimilated. Not until the 1920’s did immigrants from Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, and Europe succeed in establishing a permanent Jewish community. They achieved considerable success in the manufacture and sale of furniture, furs, and knitted goods. During the 1930’s, antisemitic propaganda spread by the German Embassy led the government to impose severe restrictions on immigration, restrictions which are still in effect. In 2007 there were about 2,800 Jews out of a total population of more than 22 million. More than 90% live in Lima, the rest in small cities.

PESACH.

See Passover.

PETACH TIKVAH.

Known as the “Mother of the Colonies,” it was the first Jewish colony established in 1878 in Palestine by a handful of Orthodox Jews who left their shops in the Old City of Jerusalem to become farmers as a first step toward the Redemption. Lacking experience, they bought 900 acres of swampland near the Yarkon River. Malaria took a heavy toll and drove them back to Jerusalem. But reinforced by new immigrants, they returned to Petach Tikvah, built their houses at some distance from the river, planted eucalyptus trees to drain the swamps, and fought against Arab attacks. Baron Edmond de Rothschild and the Hoveve Zion movement gave them a helping hand. The success of Petach Tikvah encouraged other settlements and attracted many workers and settlers. Petach Tikvah was the first colony to introduce citriculture, or orange-growing, which became the economic mainstay of Israel. It became a municipality in 1937. In 2006, Petach Tikvah had a population of approximately 175,000, an industrial zone with numerous factories, and a large farming community.

PHARISEES.

Literally, separatists. One of the three parties in Palestine during the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.E. Most of Rabbinic law as it exists today originated with the Pharisees, who prized the study of Jewish law as it developed through the generations. They were opposed by the Sadducees, literalists who allowed no interpretation of the law beyond the letter of the Biblical text.

It is believed that the majority of the Jewish people supported the Pharisees. They instituted centers of learning and synagogues for worship. The Pharisees emphasized the importance of prayer independent of the Temple services. Through teachings that strengthened the Jewish religion and morality, the Pharisees prepared Jews to withstand the hardships that followed the destruction of the Temple and subsequent dispersion.

The Pharisees came into conflict with two of the rulers of the Hasmonean dynasty: Johanan Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus. They were dissatisfied with Hyrcanus’s preoccupation with wars of conquest and with the religious practices of Alexander Jannaeus. Their opposition led these kings, especially Jannaeus, to persecute the Pharisees, many of whom fled the country to escape his heavy hand.

In the New Testament the Pharisees are mentioned unfavorably. Apparently, a few Pharisees pursued their own selfish ends under the guise of piety. There is no doubt, however, that the majority of them were true to the high ideals of their great spiritual leaders.

PHILADELPHIA.

Historically, one of the most important and, with 250,000 Jews, one of the largest American Jewish communities. Organized Jewish life began in the late 18th century. During the Revolutionary War, most Jews supported the cause and played an important part in supplying Washington’s troops. A letter from President Washington to Jews in Philadelphia affirmed their full rights, the first time in the modern world such equality was granted to Jews.

In the 19th century, Philadelphia Jewry was the leading Jewish community in the U.S. While New York City had a much larger Jewish community, the Philadelphia community was more cohesive and provided national leaders to American Jewry. Some of these leaders were Sabato Morais who founded the Jewish Theological Seminary; Isaac Leeser who gave American Jewry its first English translation of the Bible; Hyman Gratz who made provisions in his will to establish Gratz College, the first Jewish teachers’ college in America; and Cyrus Adler who co-founded the Jewish Publication Society, a leading publisher of Jewish books in the U.S.

Today, Philadelphia is home to the Annenberg Research Institute, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Seminary, and the weekly Jewish Exponent.

PHILANTHROPY.

See Charity.

PHILISTINES.

Seafaring people from one of the islands on the shores of the northern Mediterranean who emigrated to the coast of Canaan in the 12th century B.C.E. The Philistines dominated the fertile southern coastal plain, which included five cities: Gat and Ekron in the interior, and the three ports of Ashod, Ashkelon, and Gaza. They were the implacable enemies of Israel and continued to harass their neighbors until David reduced them to a minor, mainly commercial role.

PHILO (30 B.C.E.-40 C.E.).

Hellenistic philosopher and Biblical interpreter. Philo was a descendant of a distinguished Jewish family in Alexandria, Egypt. His brother was head of the Jewish community in Egypt. Philo dedicated his life to scholarship and acquired an extensive knowledge of literature, philosophy, and the sciences. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he offered prayers and sacrifices in the Temple. Philo also led a delegation of Jews to the Roman emperor Caius Caligula to appeal against the anti-Jewish decrees of the Roman high commissioner, Flaccus of Egypt.

Philo’s works include allegorical, or symbolic, commentaries on the Bible and The Lives of Moses and the Patriarchs. The latter work interprets Jewish teachings in philosophical terms in an attempt to reconcile the basic ideas of the Bible with Greek thought. Philo had great influence on Hellenized Jews who were steeped in Greek philosophy and knew little about Judaism. His idea of the Logos, or the Word, through which God influences the world, greatly influenced the Fathers of the Christian Church and indirectly Jewish mystical thought.

PHILOSOPHY.

Judaism came to philosophy relatively late. While both religion and philosophy occupy themselves with the ultimate questions, religion starts with faith while philosophy starts with human knowledge. Starting in the Greek or Hellenistic period, many Jews came under the influence of Greek philosophy. Jewish scholars such as Philo began what became a centuries-long tradition of utilizing the philosophical thinking of such Greek philosophers as Aristotle and Plato to prove or disprove the validity of Jewish belief as embodied in the Bible. This kind of philosophical speculation and disputation was driven by the rivalry between Judaism and the two new monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam. Under Islamic rule, Jews gave rise to philosophers like Maimonides and Yehudah Ha-Levi. The former incorporated Aristotelian thought into his teachings of Judaism, while the latter strongly rejected the validity of Islam and Christianity on philosophical grounds, affirming the exclusive validity of Judaism.

In our time, religious philosophers like Buber, Rosenzweig, and Heschel have espoused contemporary European philosophies such as existentialism to prove the validity and explore the message of Judaism.

Additionally, Jews contributed great philosophers after the Renaissance, the greatest being Spinoza, one of the world’s most original and most important thinkers. More recent examples are the French philosophers Bergson and Derida.

PHOENICIANS.

Sidonians of the Bible. They occupied the coast of Canaan from southern Syria through northern Palestine up to the hills of the region that separated them from Acco, or Acre. They were organized in city-states, two of which, Sidon and Tyre, are familiar to Bible readers. Seafarers, navigators, and traders, the Phoenicians were also skilled artisans and builders. By the time of kings David and Solomon, their power had waned, and they had become friendly allies of Israel. They supplied engineers and craftsmen and floated down “the cedars of Lebanon” in rafts for David’s palace and for Solomon’s Temple. Ancient empires contending for domination of that part of the world eventually swallowed up the Phoenician cities. The Phoenicians made valuable contributions to ancient civilization. Tyre taught the world how to make the famous purple dye, and Sidon introduced blown glass. From the Phoenician language, akin to Hebrew, the Greeks borrowed the alphabet which became the basis for European alphabets.

PHYLACTERIES.

See Tefilin.

PICON, MOLLY.

See Stage and Screen.

PIDYON HA-BEN.

Literally, Redemption of the Firstborn. When they are thirty days old, firstborn sons pass through a festive ceremony known as pidyon ha-ben, based on the Biblical command that the firstborn male offspring of both man and beast be dedicated to the service of God. All children but those of priests, or Kohanim, must be “redeemed” or released from this dedication. In ancient times this was done by offering a special sacrifice; since the destruction of the Temple it has become customary to give money to charity instead.

PIKUACH NEFESH.

See Life, Sanctity of.

PILPUL.

From palpel, literally, to search or judge; possibly from pilpel, literally, pepper, indicating the sharpness of discussion. Pilpul is an analytic method used in Talmudic study, which explores all possible sides of an argument. It was first used in yeshivot in Germany and was introduced to Poland in the 16th century by the famous Talmudic scholar, Rabbi Jacob Pollack. The term pilpul is often associated with hair-splitting and unproductive argumentation.

PINSKER, LEO (1821-1891).

Russian physician, writer, and Zionist leader. He studied medicine and settled in Odessa. In 1861, he began to publish articles favoring assimilation and internationalism as the only solution to the Jewish problem. The Odessa pogroms of 1871 shook his faith in assimilation though it was not until the great pogroms of 1881 that he completely abandoned his earlier convictions. The following year he published Auto-Emancipation, an extraordinary pamphlet in which he diagnosed antisemitism as a “disease” caused by fear of the alien, statelessJew. He prescribed “the creation of a Jewish nationality

PINTER, HAROLD (1930- ).

British playwright. His plays The Birthday Party and The Caretaker earned him the reputation of being one of the more complex and psychologically challenging playwrights of our time. His plays have been performed in England and the U.S., and some were made into films. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005.

PISSARRO, CAMILLE (1830-1903).

Painter of Sephardic origin, he was born on a small island in the West Indies and as a young man emigrated to France. There he lived for many years in poverty, until toward the end of his life he became recognized as one of the outstanding landscape painters of his time. Having experienced misery himself, he often painted with warmth and sympathy peasants pushing wheelbarrows, digging potatoes, tending geese, or farm workers in coarse garments with backs bowed by labor and limbs gnarled by rheumatism. Pissarro had no spiritual links with Judaism though he was troubled by the rise of French antisemitism and the unjust condemnation of Captain Dreyfus.

PITTSBURGH.

See Pennsylvania.

PIYYUT.

Liturgical poetry. (See also Hebrew Literature.)

PLAGUES OF EGYPT.

See Passover.

PLANTS OF ISRAEL.

The Bible mentions about 100 names of plants, mostly in the land of Israel. Many of those plants have become symbolic of the various regions of Israel: the palm tree represents the desert; the myrtle is symbolic of the Judean mountains; the willow is the plant of the rivers; citrus trees represent the coast; cedars are the trees of the northern mountains.

The Talmud adds hundreds of plant names to those mentioned in the Bible. They are particularly numerous in the Mishnah Zeraim, which deals with agricultural laws. Plants play a central part in many Jewish holidays, and the Talmud even designates a special “New Year” day for plants. Both in antiquity and today, such holidays as Sukkot, Shavuot, and Passover have been observed with rituals connected with various plants, such as the lulav and etrog on Sukkot, the bringing of the harvest on Shavuot in modem Israel, and the vegetables of the Seder plate.

Jewish concern with ecology dates back to early Biblical times. One striking example is the shemitah, or sabbatical year, during which the land is made to rest so that it can regain its strength and grow better crops.

During the period of foreign rule over Israel, culminating with the Turkish rule of the 19th and early 20th centuries, much of Israel’s flora were destroyed as the land was defoliated. Through the work of the Jewish National Fund, the land has been reclaimed, and much of the traditional flora of Israel were restored in the Galilee, the Valley, the Coast, the mountain ranges, and even parts of the desert.

The best-known traditional flora of Israel are the palm tree, cedar, fig tree, vine, citrus tree, myrtle, willow, pomegranate, lily of the valley, and olive tree. They appear on both ancient and modern Jewish coins, as well as in Jewish art and architecture.

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