By Bus to Balfour

While you wait at the bus stop for bus 70 in Queensway, near the entrance to Queensway tube station, you’ll see – or easily miss –  a small tree at the foot of which is a plaque, readable only if you bend down to see.  To understand the tree’s significance, you need to know about  “Tu Bishvat” and about the nearby “New West End Synagogue”.  With thanks to Wikipedia. 


The tree with its small plaque


The Plaque. Tu BiShevat 2010 began in the evening of Friday, 29 January and ended in the evening of Saturday, 30 January.


Tu BiShvat  is a Jewish holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat (which falls in January or February).  It is one  of the four annual Jewish New Years.  It marks the date for calculating the beginning of the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes payable by the Israelites. It is also called “Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot”, literally “New Year of the Trees.” In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration.

And why a Chinese Privet?  Most likely simply because it doesn’t grow too large and is evergreen.  It flowers in the autumn.  The tree – and its plaque – can be seen on Google Street view here. 



The New West End Synagogue – Orthodox –   (website here) ( research article here) , is in St. Petersburgh Place, Bayswater, London – on google maps here. The building [built 1877-79] is Grade I listed and has been described as “the architectural high-water mark of Anglo-Jewish architecture”.

Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the State of Israel, and Herbert Samuel, the British High Commissioner for Palestine during the British Mandate, were both members of the synagogue. Their seats are marked with plaques.  On 31 October 1917, Chaim Weizmann became president of the British Zionist Federation; he worked with Arthur Balfour to obtain the milestone Balfour Declaration;

Again, with thanks to Wikipedia. 

The things you learn at a bus stop!





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