As a pediatric gastroenterologist and Director of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, Dr. Sarah Sallon has long been interested in natural remedies. Having read that dates were traditionally thought to be good for digestive problems, she went on a hunt for the ancient date seeds that were uncovered during a 1960s excavation of Masada, the historic Jewish fortress by the Dead Sea.

Once in possession of some of the seeds, she turned to Elaine Solowey, an expert on arid agriculture. Solowey runs the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, founded by Hadassah Young Judaeans in 1973. She planted the seeds in 2005 and was astounded when one of them sprouted.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020, when scientists were able to harvest a crop of long-lost Judean palm dates after a 2000-year incubation period. As the dates were picked from the tree, Dr. Sallon excitedly exclaimed, “They are beautiful!” And they tasted good, too.

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