JWR Only in the Middle East!

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 14, 2007 / 24 Adar, 5767

Researchers hoping for a date with history

By Joel Greenberg

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT)

JOUTHERN NEGEV — In quarantine under protective netting, a palm sapling coaxed from a seed nearly 2,000 years old is growing in southern Israel.

Researchers nurturing the plant, nicknamed Methuselah after the biblical figure said to have lived 969 years, are worried about the seedling's exposure to modern pests.

"Things have changed in 2,000 years, and we have this plant that is frozen in time, like Rip Van Winkle," said Elaine Solowey, a horticulturist from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in the southern Negev region.

"We have date trees across the road with modern diseases," Solowey said. "There's only one tree like this, and I feel very responsible for it."

The fledgling date palm was grown from a seed found by archeologists at the desert fortress of Masada, where Jewish rebels took their own lives in the year 73 rather than submit to Roman forces that captured the stronghold after a long siege. Carbon dating has shown the seed to be from around the 1st Century.

If the plant is female and continues to grow normally, researchers say, it could produce fruit in three to four years, replicating the ancient date of Judea, a valued export also known for its medicinal properties.

"Our ancestors were eating these kinds of dates," Solowey said. "That's kind of a thrill, to put yourself in the shoes of ancient people and know how they made their living and what they were eating."

The idea of germinating the ancient seed was conceived by Dr. Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The center focuses on the study of natural therapies such as Tibetan and Chinese medicine as well as medicinal plants indigenous to the Middle East.

Researchers study local species for their remedial properties and collect information on their traditional use. They also work to preserve such plants and reintroduce those that have become extinct in Israel.

The Judean date once grew in vast plantations stretching from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, according to historical accounts, and Jewish and Arab sources cite the date as a tonic and a remedy for a variety of ailments ranging from hemorrhoids to cancer, Sallon said.

According to Jewish tradition, the date is one of the seven species with which the biblical Land of Israel is blessed. After crushing the Jewish revolt in the 1st Century, the Romans struck a coin showing a woman representing Judea sitting in mourning beneath a palm tree, and the tree also appears on the modern Israeli 10-shekel coin.

But the Judean date palm was destroyed by the time of the Crusades, and the palms growing in modern Israel were imported from California, belonging to species originating elsewhere in the Middle East.

In her quest for medicinal plants now extinct in Israel, Sallon asked Mordechai Kislev, an archeobotanist at Bar-Ilan University, for some ancient seeds he had received in the 1970s from Yigael Yadin, the prominent Israeli archeologist who excavated Masada.

"He asked what we wanted to do with them, and when I said we wanted to grow them, he said, `You're mad,'" Sallon said, adding that after "a lot of persuasion," five seeds were handed over.

Three of the seeds were planted by Solowey, a specialist in sustainable agriculture who works with Sallon on domesticating indigenous medicinal plants.

Using enzymatic fertilizers and hormones used to promote seed germination and rooting, Solowey planted the seeds in sterile soil on Jan. 25, 2005, which that year corresponded to the Jewish New Year for trees.

"I didn't have too much hope," she said.

But on March 3 the soil in one pot cracked, and a shoot later appeared.

"I couldn't believe it," Solowey said.

The first leaves were discolored and white, but those that grew later were a normal green. Today the seedling is about 3 feet high, with a short inner shoot and delicate fronds.

After the seed germinated, Sallon sent the two unplanted seeds to the University of Zurich in Switzerland for carbon dating, which showed that they were from around the 1st Century. A leaf of the plant was sent for DNA analysis to determine how it differed from modern varieties.

The date seed is one of the oldest seeds to be germinated anywhere and is believed to be the oldest dormant tree seed brought to life.

In 1967, botanists in Canada germinated seeds of arctic lupine that were found in the Yukon in rodent burrows whose contents were estimated to be 10,000 years old.

A lotus seed found in a dry lake bed in China and shown by carbon dating to be nearly 1,300 years old was germinated in 1995 by a scientist at UCLA.

During World War II, centuries-old seeds kept at the Natural History Museum in London germinated after a German bombardment caused a fire and large quantities of water were used to douse the flames.

Solowey said prospects for re-creating the ancient Judean date remain precarious, even if the palm she is growing turns out to be a female with the potential of flowering and bearing fruit.

"One never knows with a plant of this type if something can make it flower late, and some plants never flower at all," she said. "There are a lot of things that can get damaged. Complex organisms are so fragile.

"With luck, in three years maybe we'll get some flowers, and perhaps we'll know something about the past."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and in Washington consider must-reading. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

© 2007, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services