Palestine Botanical Garden (Mt Scopus)


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I had some time to walk through what I think the signs still call the “Palestine Botanical Garden” at the Mt. Scopus campus of Hebrew University. Online  sources elude the historical name, but I’m pretty sure I read correctly the signs up at the site. Planted by Professor Alexander Eig in 1931 and restored in 1988, the place and its name goes back to a time when Palestine was just Palestine before it became “Israel” and before Palestine turned into “Palestine.” Quiet and full of wind, the place represents all the flora of the entire country. It’s a beautiful, marvelous place to walk around. The stone structure in the photograph appears to have been a defensive position manned by the Haganah during the 1948 War of Independence.

I’ve seen the garden referred to online as the Mt Scopus Botanical Garden, and even the Land of Israel Botanical Garden. Focused on the text of the sign, I photographed the main body of the historical information, which by the way, is full of information about…Palestine. I consequently neglected, however, to register in the photograph how the sign actually named the original site as named back in 1931. Why does all this matter? It doesn’t, and that an important point to make. What’s in a historical name? Just a little bit of perspective. I’ll happily correct this post if someone, preferably a colleague at HU, could send me an actual photograph from the signs that I photographed at the site proving that I got the original name wrong, i.e. proving that the name of the place is not the “Palestine Botanical Garden.”

Whatever you want to call it, gardens are among the most beautiful and peaceful places in the city. Unlike buildings, plants, while their organization might be  “political” and “historical,” themselves don’t really don’t care about history and politics. They just want to grow.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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