A date with Tamar

A Jewish symbol of uprightness, grace and elegance, Tamar/Tamara refers to the date palm or pillar. We know it as “date” from the Greek/Latin of Phoenix dactylifera meaning ‘bearing fingers’ i.e the fruit’s elongated shape.

Growing up to 100 feet, with its single trunk and spiny leaves it is certainly not beautiful but rather effulgently generous with its fruit. These hang as if in nets, ripening to a pretty pink though I’ve chosen to view them in monochrome to better appreciate the contrasting textures of this amazing tree.

A miracle of science: Across the Judean region, the date palm became extinct by the 15th century and most modern trees in that region were imported in the 1950s. But like its Phoenix namesake the original rose from the ashes or rather in 2005 from seeds stored in an ancient jar in the ruins of Herod’s palace at Masada. The first to successfully germinate and sprout was nicknamed “Methuselah”. A male tree that needed some female companions so fortunately ‘Hannah’ and ‘Judith’ were germinated. And in June 2020, Hannah became the first Judean date palm tree, resurrected from the dust of ancient seeds, to bear fruit.

I shall never again eat dates at Christmas without thinking of Tamar!

Grayscaling a date palm in Northern Israel for Monochrome Monday

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