Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

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Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:46 pm

Bonsai & Tu BiShevat

On January 14, at 6:30 PM, Congregation Ner Tamid, North Syracuse, NY had a bonsai display in honor of Tu BiShevat, the New Year of the Trees. The trees will be on display Friday evening in conjunction with the Sabbath services and potluck dinner. Iris Cohen, a local bonsai grower, will be available after services on Friday to explain more about the exhibit and answer questions. Ner Tamid is at 5061 West Taft Road, between Liverpool and North Syracuse.
At first, it is hard to see a connection between bonsai, which was originally an art from the Far East, and the Jewish holiday of Tu BiShevat. However, bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees in pots, and Tu BiShevat is the New Year of the Trees, Jewish Arbor Day. What better way to enjoy trees than to bring them indoors at eye level, when it is too cold to go outdoors and appreciate them?
But the connection is stronger than that. Like many art forms, bonsai originated as a religious expression. The ancient Chinese believed that the Immortals dwelt on certain islands or mountains. They expressed this belief by creating miniature mountain scenes. Compare that to Psalm 121, “I will raise my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.”
Although bonsai originated in China, it was developed to its highest classical level in Japan, originally from wild trees collected in the mountains. Later the art was extended to growing cultivated trees to represent forms in nature. Formerly, the Western world conceived of bonsai as strictly an Oriental art form. But nowadays bonsai is used to express the cultures of growers around the world. Many bonsai owners like to have a tree to represent a special period in their lives, a place they have visited, or somewhere they want to go. For some Jewish growers, this means growing trees from Israel or bonsai that represent Jewish themes. There are two active bonsai clubs in Israel.
The name Tu BiShevat simply means the fifteenth (day) of (the month of) Shevat. It is not a Biblical holiday, but originated in Talmudic times. At first, it was just a tax day, to mark which year’s crop certain fruits belonged to. It also marks the beginning of spring in Israel. In the Middle Ages, certain rabbinical sages developed it into a celebration of trees and a welcoming of spring. During most of the Diaspora, it was an unimportant holiday, known only for eating fruits from Israel. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Tu BiShevat has assumed greater importance, celebrated by planting trees in Israel, noting concern for the environment, and sometimes holding a ceremonial meal.

Iris Cohen
For further information call 315-461-9226 or write to bonsaisr.


Last edited by John Quinn on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:53 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : event date passed)

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Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:42 pm

If you are in the circulation area, the (Syracuse) Post-Standard will have an article on bonsai and Tu BiShevat this coming Saturday. I will try to get the URL for the online version when it comes out.
Iris

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Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:51 pm

They did a nice feature article on bonsai for today's paper. Of course they always get a few facts slightly wrong, but I hope it gets more people interested. I wish I had better trees, but I'm just an amateur.
Here's the URL. http://blog.syracuse.com/cny/2011/01/post_15.html
Iris

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Re: Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  stavros on Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:12 pm

Hi Iris, I wish i could stop by but i am a few thousands of miles away.
Very nice idea by the way!!

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Re: Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  JimLewis on Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:56 pm

You're a great Ambassador for Bonsai, Iris.

That is, by the way, one of the very few newspaper articles about bonsai that got it pretty right! Good job.

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Bonsai in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:23 am

I can't erase this.

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Re: Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  John Quinn on Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:45 am

Would you like me to remove this thread, Iris?

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Re: Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  my nellie on Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:32 am

Here is an olive for you Mrs. Iris...


and a pomegranate, too...


to remind you of your beloved country, as you said to the reporter of the newspaper.

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Bonsai in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:22 pm

John Quinn wrote:Would you like me to remove this thread, Iris?
You might as well, since the event is past.
Iris

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Bonsai in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:26 pm

John Quinn wrote:Would you like me to remove this thread, Iris?
You might as well, since the event is past.
At least remove the announcement part. You might want to move it someplace else if there is more discussion.
Iris


Last edited by bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:27 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add another comment.)

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Bonsai in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:35 pm

my nellie wrote:Here is an olive for you Mrs. Iris...

and a pomegranate, too...

to remind you of your beloved country, as you said to the reporter of the newspaper.

Thank you. My pomegranate blooms, but has never set fruit yet. I saw them in people's backyards in Israel.
I don't recall if the picture of the olive came through online. Actually, my olive bonsai looks very much like a miniature of that one, the effect I have been working toward. Unfortunately, it does not look at its best in the winter under fluorescent lights. When I put it outside in the spring, it beefs up.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai Display in the Synagogue

Post  John Quinn on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:54 pm

Iris, I'll move the thread to 'Bonsai' so that the comments may continue.

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Bonsai in the Synagogue

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:22 pm

At the last minute, I got a phone call to do a presentation at a Jewish independent living home this past Thursday, which was the actual date of Tu BiShevat. They wanted a little talk on bonsai.
My husband & I set up a similar display to what I had at the synagogue last week. My favorite tree for this nowadays is my 'Zuisho' dressed up as the Great Tree of Peace of the Haudenoshaunee (Iroquois). The abyss of kitsch. Twisted Evil What's the Jewish connection? Isaiah 2:4. (If you want all the details, I will post it elsewhere.)
The presentation went over much better than I expected, since elderly urban Jews usually don't respond to bonsai. But this is an educated, sophisticated group, a lot of retired professors, etc. They grabbed a lot of my handouts on bonsai & Tu BiShevat. Several of them took club information for their children or grandchildren.
I found out that later that afternoon they were planning to have a Seder for Tu BiShevat http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/000121/seder.shtml
Therefore, I left some of the trees on display & picked them up later. It was much appreciated.
Nowadays, many of us (& it's all over the Internet) use Tu BiShevat to promote environmental awareness & the concept of stewardship. Maybe you can use some of these ideas to promote it elsewhere.
Iris

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