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September 29, 1978 - Image 104

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-09-29

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104 Friday, September 29, 1918.


Israel's Flora and Fauna, Its Climate and Animal
Life Fascinatingly Told in Natural History Volume

Israel has everything im-
aginable: birds, flowers,
wild animals, every con-
ceivable climate. Her
natural resources are
unique. It is all told in the
Bible. With anthological
skill it is related in a most
fascinating book, "The
Natural History of the Land
of the Bible," by Azaria
Mon (Doubleday).
While this volume is fil-
led with scientific and tech-
nical names for all species
in this immensely rich corn-
pendium, this is a book that
will fascinate the lay
reader. The 80 full-color and
150 additional photos, all
taken by the author, make
this a work suitable for in-
dividual reading and is at
the same time recom-
mended for study.
Bible students will be in-
trigued to find the immen-
sity of references to flowers,
to vegetation, to the ani-
mals who are mentioned in
the Bible and retain their
existence in modern Israel.
There is something
very unique about this
book. The sections
separated by pages, of
varying-colors in all de-
partments, Containing
Bible quotations with
references to the agricul-
tural and animal objects
described expertly by a
naturalist turned author.
There are the gazelles,
and there is a description of
their being present in
groups. There are the
hyenas and the bears still in
evidence from ancient
There are kingfishers and
wolves, in areas where the
date palms and floral varie-
ties flourish.
Because this Alon work
combines geography with
vegetation and animal life,
it is interesting to note that
he has an important refer-
ence to the seasons. Here is
his explanation:
"The concept of four
seasons of the year is de-
eply entrenched and long
current in literature, in
art and in every aspect of
life, and when it is
suggested that, as a mat-
ter of fact, there are only
two seasons in Israel it is
only natural that all sorts
of objections should be
raised. The Bible is cited
as the authority and the
passages which specifi-
cally mention summer
and winter, spring and
autumn, are brought as
proof of their existence.
In support of our conten-
tion we must therefore
show which two seasons
are missing.
"It may come as a surprise

to some people to learn that from place to place and from
there is no mention of four year -to year.
"Israel is a country of
seasons in the Bible. The
Hebrew word stay, trans- sharp contrasts. A question
lated today as autumn, ap- as to what kind of weather is
pears only once in the Scrip- to be expected there in any
tures, in that wonderful particular month would be
passage in the Song of Sol- completely meaningless
omon (2:11) where it is ren- without specifying the loc-
dered in the Authorized ality.
"In Safed for instance,
Version as, 'For lo, the
winter is past, the rain fs north of the Sea of
over and gone . . Stay, ac- Galilee, it is wise to take a
cording to most scholars, is coat when going on an
winter, or the time of the outing in August, while
in Eilat a bath in the sea
winter rains.
"The Hebrew word aviv, in January is enjoyable.
which today is used to mean Yet if, after basking there
spring, appears twice in the in the sun for a few hours,
Bible, to denote not a sea- you make the 50-minute
son, but-a stage in the ripen- air trip to Lod (Lydda),
you may well run into
ing of barley.
"Hodesh Ha'aviv, trans- rain and biting cold
lated as 'the month of Abib' winds. Thus a statement
in the Authorized Version, that the hot season ex-
is the month when this par- tends from May to Oc-
ticular ripening process tober, and the rainy sea-
takes place —_the Hebrew son from November until
month of Nissan. There is the end of April, would
no mention in the Bible of a have to be qualified by an
season called spring. Nor is indication of the lo-cality
the word aviv, which ap- referred. to. '
"Generally, the rainy
pears in- all seven times,
ever rendered as spring in season becomes longer the
farther north one goes. If
the English version.
"So in fact the Bible rec- the term winter is taken to
ognizes only two seasons, mean the colder time of the
summer and winter or, as year, then the Negev desert
they were known to the has its winter too, though it
authors of the Talmud, 'the would be nonsense to speak
days of sun' and 'the days of of a rainy season there. In
the area of Eilat the entire
annual rainfall — averag-
"Under the influence of ing about one inch — may
Greco-Roman civiliza- fall in one torrential
tion, the Jews of tal-
downpour in September or
mudic times divided the May, while the whole of the
year into four seasons, winter will be without rain.
though always by using
"In the Mediterranean
the original Hebrew zone there are real rains,
names of the months in with anything from 17 to 40
which each season be- inches a year considered
gan. They were the time normal. This is enough to
of Tishri (October), the support field crops, vine-
time of Tevet (January), yards and unirrigated or-
the time of Nissan (April) chards, and in uncultivated
and the time of Tammuz areas forest vegetation
grows well."
Alon emphasizes an im-
"This is how they are also
identified in the rare mosaic portant fact to indicate Is-
worked into the floor of the rael's determination to
Sixth Century synagogue preserve its natural re-
which was found at Beth sources. He states:
"From the beginning of
Alfa . . .
"Israel is situated in an modern Jewish settle-
area of winter rains, and it ment in Palestine, a de-
is only natural that the first ' termined effort has been
climatic characteristic we made to restore the coun-
shall consider is rainfall. . try's fertility and make it
Rain, or the lack of it, more once again a green and
than any other single fac- pleasant land, rich in
tor, determines the char- trees and animal life.
acter of the different regions Thousands of acres of
in every aspect from the mountain slopes have
contours of the landscape to been planted with forest
the type of cultivation, or trees, mostly pine, and
absence of it, and even the laws have been passed to
distribution of its popula- protect wild life."
Israel having become a
tion. If the year divides
flower exporting country,
naturally into two basic
seasons, the rainy season this reference to the flora is
and the hot season, the
especially notable:
period during which they
"Only two flowers appear
overlap varies considerably
by name in the whole of the

Old Testament: the rose and
the lily. And even of these
two, no one can say for sure
to which botanical species
they belong.
"Must it then be supposed 1,
that in those days there
were no other flowers in the_
country or, alternatively,
that our forefathers were
not sufficiently aware of
them to mention them?
Probably neither. Hundreds
of species of attractive wild
flowers are to be found in
Israel, and there is no doubt
that they were already here
long before the Bible was
Rows of gladioli grow in the Negev.
"With the same degree of
assurance we can say that colors. This is especially be seen in far larger coun-.
tries, and even in whole con-
the early Hebrews were ex- true for anyone whose
tremely perceptive and ob- previous visits to the tinental areas. For exam-
servant and that they were country have been dur- ple, France, Britain, Spain
certainly familiar with the ing the dry season, be- and Japan can each boast a
flowers of the countryside. tween June and Sep- mere 400 to 440 different
Quite simply, the Bible was tember, when most of the species, while Europe to the ,
not intended as a textbook uncultivated land has Russian border has 577 spe-
on natural history and the turned yellow and dry. cies, Russia 700 species and
plants which appear in it This too is another char- the United States 725."
are mentioned solely to acteristic of plant life in
A calendar of what is to be
illustrate the ideas which Israel: its concentration seen in Israel and when
are being expounded. It is
provides a valuable guide
not surprising that the only year."
for all, including residents
Israel is described by who may not be aware of the
two flowers mentioned ap-
pear in the Song of Solomon, Alon as a "paradise for bird
facts as well as the tourists.
a book in which the natural watchers." To quote him
The entire book is filled
beauties of this country side again:
with fascination about the
"That there are 380
figure in equal prominence
different species of birds to factors told by Azari Alon.
with the lovers.
"Israel is rich in flow- be seen . in Israel may not "The Natural History of the
ers. Going out into the mean very much to anyone Land of the Bible" is so im-
pressive that it emerges as •
fields in March and April who is unfamil iar with the
one of the most creative
one is overwhelmed by subject, but this figure ac-
the vigor of the season quires new significance if literary and artistic an-
and the abundance of we compare it with the thologies on flora and
varieties, shapes and number of birds which can

* * *

Flower Power Blooms in Israel

Together with Dr. Shi- experimenting with chang .
mon Mayak, who is in ing the flowering time of Is-
raeli flora. In this way blos-
charge of the post harvest
JERUSALEM — Thanks handling studies, Prof. soms can be increased in
to advanced growing tech- Halevy recently announced winter to feed the European
niques and more sophisti- three innovative machines - appetite for flowers during
cated methods of distribu- now in operation which will dormant growing months
tion, the sales of Israeli flora insure a fresher product on there. Right now the major
and foliage are mushroom- delivery.
thrust of Israeli export is be-
ing during the winter
tween October and May, but
months, particularly in
efforts are being made for
northern countries. For the machines,. cold air is year-round shipments.
current season flower ex-
Israelis enjoy a fine repu-
ports — about 80 percent of of hoses into boxes of flowers
tation for rose growing.
the total production — are to keep them fresh longer at
"Special hormones are in-
expected to earn $50 million low temperatures.
jected to prevent malforma-
for Israel.
- Another machine pro-
According to Prof. Av- duces sheets of ice in plastic tion and assure a full-blown
raham H. Halevy, an inter- bags which are placed in the culture," explains Halevy.
national expert on plant flower boxes to cool these
In an effort to expand
Physiology and ornamental down to 36 degrees. The ice
floral exports, Israel has
horticulture, cultivation of sheets replace crushed ice joined hands with Hol-
flowers shot up from 300 which often deteriorated
land to export flowers to
million grown in 1977 to the boxes and their con-
the U.S. and Canada. This
500 million expected this tents
was announced recently
by Reuven Eiland, board
The third machine, chairman of Agre,r,-,.. Is-
Prof. Halevy super-vises .
the horticultural research used solely at the packing rael's agricultur, -)rt
station at the Agricultural plant, pumps a chemical company.
Faculty of Hebrew Univer- solution called "Floron",
Reputedly the fastest
sity, where students con- which improves the qual-
duct on-going experimental ity and prolongs the growing agricultural com-
modity in the country, Is-
projects which flower grow- longevity of the flowers.
raeli roses, carnations,
ers can immediately try out
Additional experiments gladioli, irises, myrtle and
and evaluate.
in handling are currently
. The most important under way in Holland and other green leaves are a new
advances of the station the West Coast of the boon to the Israeli economy.
Jumbo jets carrying
he supervises, according United States. "Because we
Israeli-grown flowers' as
to the professor, are the are dealing with a luxury
well as vegetables, fruits
development of better product, there is no place for
and citrus arrive nightly
methods for controlling second grade produce," says
flower quality and later, Halevy. "Our product must during the winter months in
snowy European -capitals
more effective routines
be competitive."
carrying first-rate produce
for handling and packing
The Hebrew University from Israel's sunny desert
flowers, both in Israel
agricultural station is also kibutzim and moshavim.
and abroad.


Israel Ministry
of Communications

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