The Australian Jewish News: New initiative enables Jews abroad to observe shmita

by / Sunday, 12 August 2007 / Published in In the media

JERUSALEM — A new initiative has been launched to enable observant Jews living outside of Israel to fulfill the mitzvah of shmita during the sabbatical year that commences in Rosh Hashana.

According to the Torah, during the shmita year, which takes place once every seven years, farmland in the Land of Israel has to remain uncultivated.

The Shomrei Shvi’itorganization offers Jews to buy small tracts of agricultural land in Eretz Israel that will lay completely fallow for the entire shmita year.

Until now, shmita observance has only been available for farmers and land owners in the country, but the unique initiative would allow any Jew in Israel or abroad to fulfill the mitzvah as well.

The tracts, 1.35 square meters in size, are located in a large field near Ra’anana and cost $180 each. The project has already been endorsed by prominent rabbis, some of whom have even purchased a tract themselves.

According to the project’s director, Simcha Margaliot, “We are happy to assist Jews in Israel and across the world fulfill the mitzvah of shmita. Ever since the people of Israel went into exile, shmita has been perceived by the majority of the public as a theoretical mitzvah which they cannot fulfill, while the truth is that this mitzvah can be easily fulfilled by any Jew who is interested in doing so.”