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Today is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for the Trees. This is technically the day when trees stop absorbing water from the ground, and instead draw nourishment from their sap. In Jewish law, this means that fruit which has blossomed prior to the 15th of Shvat could not be used as tithe for fruit which blossomed after that date. The custom on Tu B’Shvat is to eat fruits from the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised: “…a land of wheat and barley and (grape) vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and (date) honey” (Deut. 8:8).
On this date in 1925, the Technion opened in Haifa, becoming Israel’s first modern university. Albert Einstein served as president of the first Technion Society. Today, Technion graduates comprise the majority of Israeli-educated scientists and engineers, and Israel is now home to the greatest concentration of high-tech start up companies anywhere outside of the Silicon Valley. High-tech industry accounts for more than 54% of Israel’s industrial exports. In Israel, nine out of every 1,000 workers are engaged in R&D, nearly double the rate of the U.S. and Japan. More achievements: The Technion is credited with the birth of fiber-optics. In 1998, the Technion became the fifth university worldwide to successfully design, build, and launch its own satellite. In 2004, two Technion professors received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research in the protein breakdown in cells.