A Tale of the Grape
Last year, the single grape vine in Temple Sinai's Biblical Garden produced 13.2 ounces of grapes. Rather than eating them, we incorporated them in a wine producing project. Participants included myself, Sherry Feldman, Stan Horowitz, Phyllis Solod, Cantor Deborah Johnson, and Bob Serinsky. We purchased three boxes of merlot grapes which we de-stemmed and crushed into wine. In February we bottled the wine producing seventy 375 mL bottles of red table wine and 40 mL bottles of merlot.
We are scheduling a wine and cheese fundraiser with the minimum contribution set at $8 for the table wine and $16 for the merlot. We believe that our wines will be received with great reviews. Look for the posting in the Rabbi’s “See What’s Happening” email.
Biblical Garden Status
The Torah lists seven species that are regarded as special to the Land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). They are pomegranate, fig tree, grape, wheat, barley, honey and olive. We have planted as many of these as we can in the garden.
If you walk through the garden you will see various plants starting to emerge. Daffodils and garlic are first up. They were planted by our Religious School's 7th graders. This year, we are also planting barley, flax and wheat. Flax seeds take about 100 days to mature and will produce little blue flowers and pods which will contain edible flax seed. (You do not have to go to Whole Foods to buy flax seeds. We will have them straight from our Biblical Garden). Using the stems, we can make flax thread. I'm not sure what I will do with the wheat and barley; maybe we will make beer.
When we harvest the garlic, Egyptian onions, and potato onions, we plan on using some for the Shabbat morning Torah study breakfast. The rest will be donated to the Kosher kitchen. The horseradish root which I planted last year will be dug up and harvested to create the bitter herb for Passover. We'll replant a small portion of the root to provide more for Passover 2021.
As we did last year, we will plant various herbs mention in the Torah such as mint, marjoram, sage, etc. to be used either at the Shabbat morning breakfast or the Kosher kitchen. We'll plant flowers in the planters throughout the garden. We also have a honey bush planted by my predecessor, Catherine Walters, and that will serve as our substitute for honey as being easier to care for than an actual bee hive!
Last year, I planted a pomegranate tree near the grape vine, and I am hopeful that it will come up. I also bought an olive tree and it is thriving in the sunroom of my house under a grow lamp. When all chances of frost have disappeared, right after Mother's Day, I will bring out the olive tree and place it in the Garden. At about the same time, I will unwrap the fig tree. It presently is wrapped in insulation with a pipe to provide air and vent away moisture.
A gardener from a synagogue in Hartford, Connecticut, contacted me after reading this blog for a tour of our Biblical Garden and assistance in reviving their garden. It's nice to be recognized!
If you feel the garden urge, help is always welcome. I cannot detail the pleasure one experiences in growing food, herbs and flowers.
Michael Schlesinger is Temple Sinai’s Biblical Gardener. Mike has been gardening since he was eight years old. He used to grow grape vines and make wine when he lived in California. He now tends to our garden, continuing the traditions started by Catherine Walters.