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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Whose trees are these?

While running to a meeting in Rehovot the other day, I was stunned to see that the streets of this city are lined with orange trees.  No, I don't mean trees that are colored orange... but rather lush green trees whose branches are literally sagging under the weight of the most beautiful oranges you've ever seen.  I was kicking myself for not having my digital camera with me.  In fact, when I got back to my office and googled 'Rehovot', I found that the city's seal features... you guessed it:  Oranges!

Rehovotsymbol_1 

In other aspects, Rehovot is very similar in layout and architecture to other 'older' Israeli cities.  The main street is lined with the kind of stores and restaurants that exist in nearly every large Israeli community.  The drab apartment buildings crowd the center of the city, and in the distance one can see the groves and agricultural fields from which the population centers originally sprang.

But I'm intrigued by the decision to line the main streets with fruit trees.  This raises several questions in a newcomer's mind:

1.  To whom does the fruit belong?

2.  Can anyone pick the fruit as they walk down the street?

3.  Does the city pick the fruit and sell it?

4.  Do the local fruit and vegetable stands bother trying to sell oranges?

5.  What happens to the fruit that doesn't get picked?

I'd like to think that the oranges that are grown within the city limits are there for the taking... and I'll be very disappointed if I find out otherwise.  Can you imagine the tragic irony if even one child in Rehovot suffers from a lack of vitamin C? 

Anyway, if anyone knows more about this interesting phenomenon, I would welcome your insights.

220_8

Posted by David Bogner on January 11, 2005 | Permalink

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My aunt and uncle moved to Rehovot in 1938. They spent many years living in an apartment on Jabotinsky by the bus station.

As I recall from my last visit we were able to pick the oranges. I don't remember any problems with it, but since it has been a few years you should doublecheck that.

Probably not too helpful, was I.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 11, 2005 5:56:26 PM

I'm sure you could modify your policeman joke to suit the situation.

Can I pick the oranges?
No.
But she got a whole bagfull.
She didn't ask.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 11, 2005 6:26:26 PM

When I was in Israel this last trip I stayed in Rehovot most of the time. I saw someone stopping to pick something off a tree once and I thought it was great. And as has been brought up... would an Israeli really ASK if it could be picked??

Posted by: celestial blue | Jan 11, 2005 6:48:35 PM

Hm. You got me thinking there with all your questions.

Can I add: why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

The oranges in the city seal are an allusion to the groves that where there before Polish olim chadashim built the city. It was orange groves all over. Rehovot alludes to Gen 26,22. And hey, did you know that Rehovot and Heidelberg were partner towns.

Did I contribute to solve your ponderings? No. Did I enjoy this post? Yes. Should I ask my sister in law if she picks oranges on her way to the Weizman Institute each morning?

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 11, 2005 8:56:38 PM

Jack... No, not helpful, but very interesting... That counts for a lot with me! :-)

Doctor Bean... I was actually thinking something along those lines while I was there. I figured if I asked somebody they would tell me it wasn't allowed, but if I just picked a couple of oranges nobody would say boo. In the end I was a timid American and didn't do either.

Celestial Blue... You and Doctor Bean are thinking along the same lines (and really nailed me as a typical American).

mademoiselle a. ... The city is still surrounded by orange groves, and every private back yard seems to have an orange tree or three! Also, it would be great if you could ask your sister-in-law about the trees in the center of town.

Posted by: David | Jan 11, 2005 9:07:02 PM

I'm staying in Rehovot these days, and I have noticed these orange trees as well. I just didn't know they were something unusual :)

Posted by: Hatshepsut in Israel | Jan 12, 2005 12:03:05 AM

My cousin used to live in Rehovot with her family; I remember her hubbie chewing gat (he was sephardic), but I don't remember orange trees. That being said, my wife and I live in J'lem for a year, and there it was pretty much catch-as-catch-can; if we had seen any fruit trees, we would have just eaten the fruit, and I doubt anyone would have said anything. Go for it!

Posted by: Isaac B2 | Jan 12, 2005 12:23:07 AM

When I was visiting my cousins in Israel, I was walking with my 7 year old cousin, and passed by some orange trees. Being from Canada, I was delighted, and exclaimed to her "Look at the orange trees!"

She replied "Those aren't oranges. Oranges are green!"

*Those in the know will realize that most of the oranges sold within Israel are picked before they're totally ripe, so the outer skins are still green.

Posted by: S | Jan 12, 2005 4:52:17 PM

David, my point was that there were groves before there ever was Rehovot -- I know the trees are still there. I know the city well ;) You're lucky; I'll be seeing SIL in a week or two.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 12, 2005 4:58:58 PM

Hatshepsut... I can see how that thing might evade your notice, what with all the fruit trees on the streets in Iceland! ;-)

Isaac B2... Being allowed and not being yelled at are two very different animals! :-) I want to hear somebody with the real info tell me it's OK! :-)

S... Great story, I always wondered about that. In the US we used to get these beautiful Jaffa oranges and here the fruit tastes great but sometimes looks unripe. Go figure.

Posted by: David | Jan 12, 2005 5:02:55 PM

mademoiselle a. ... I'm looking forward to hearing what she has to say on the subject.

Posted by: David | Jan 12, 2005 5:04:42 PM

Hi! Shalom! Sorry but I've never been to Rehovot in order to admire their orange trees BUT may I suggest you phone the Municipality or the Mayor himself and ask them? Or do they bite? Seriously.. I am much interested myself in oranges as I am writing a book on my various overseas trips and orange trees are nearly a "symbol" of Eretz Israel -BUT know they are olim radachim (not Russian.. Is there some information regarding their arrival here? when, how, by whom? Although I live in France (rather small a country in terms of love of Jews)I can still smell my first Israeli orange blossoms (1967!)Never will I forget this heavenly scent! Last but not the least, do you know that I lived in Nice (France, on Mediterranean coast) and in my small street we had quite a few orange trees with fruits! What did you say about Rehovot?
Shalom to YOU all!
Ilan

Posted by: ilan braun | Nov 11, 2005 5:29:20 AM

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