Shmita for Schools

by / Monday, 01 September 2014 / Published in Shmita Articles, Shmita Blog


In anticipation of the upcoming Shmita year, students, educators, rabbis, farmers, yeshivot, agricultural organizations, major corporations, small businesses and millions of kosher consumers in Eretz Yisroel and in the Diaspora are studying methods to avoid transgressing the many laws of Shmita.

Many Jews worldwide have joined The Shmita Association, which allows them to own a small plot of agricultural land in Eretz Yisroel which will lie fallow during shmita, so that instead of merely learning about shmita- they will actually be able to fulfill this rare and precious mitzva!


But even more importantly, The Shmita Association has devised a broad educational program to cultivate Shmita and its message of emuna in our children- the leaders of tomorrow.

Back by popular demand, the ‘Shmita in Your School Program’ targets elementary, middle and high-school students and enables them to not only learn about shmita, but to actually fulfill this rare mitzva, which, until now, has been kept only by Jews actually living in Eretz Yisroel.


The school can hold a bake sale in order to fund the purchase of at least daled al daled (16) amos (58.12 ft²) of land for their students and faculty members. Many take the opportunity to sell only healthy baked goods, in the shmita spirit of releasing the land and allowing it to rest at Hashem’s decree.

Once they’ve acquired daled al daled amos of fallow agricultural land in Eretz Yisroel, and have ensured that their students are halachicly keeping shmita, The Shmita Association mails the school a bulging parcel full of educational material such as pamphlets, tests, posters, games, arts & crafts projects- and photos of the portion of land that they now own. (Educational material sold separately from the plot of land. Fees vary according to quantity ordered). Educational specialists at The Shmita Association then make themselves available for hours of free consultation on any and every subject pertaining to making shmita come alive in the classroom.

Just imagine- the following ideas could take place in YOUR school this shmita year:


“My 12th-graders decided to put on a play about shmita this past shmita-year (5768). They were on the phone quite a bit with The Shmita Association’s English-speaking consultants discussing their plans and ideas for the play because they wanted everything to truly reflect the way that shmita is kept in Eretz Yisroel by frum yidden. They were offered excellent tips and advice and The Shmita Association even asked one of the great poskim of Bnei Brak one of the girls’ shaylehs. She was so touched. We were all impressed by the patience and professionalism of their staff members and would highly recommend using their services when it comes to anything shmita-related.”.


“I cannot adequately express how excited my kindergarten students were when I showed them photos of the plot of land our Bais Yaakov had bought. But you should have seen how they jumped and squealed when I told them that The Shmita Association had personally invited all of them to come take a tour of the land the next time any of them would be in Eretz Yisroel. Sure enough, two girls are booked to go spend Succos with their families in Yerushalyim, and their parents are more than happy to help their daughters really feel and live the beautiful mitzva that they’re keeping. You see, this is an opportunity for these parents to make a whole inyan of keeping the ‘mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz’ with their children who would not normally have anything to do with them.”


“When I told my 3-rd graders in cheyder about the shmita-observant farmers, the Giborei Co’ach, who would be relinquishing their livelihood for an entire year- because Hashem told them to- one of the boys piped up that he wanted to write a letter to a farmer to encourage him on this daunting task. Before I knew it, all the boys had taken out their Ivrit notebooks and began writing sweet little notes to the farmers in Eretz Yisroel. But I was stuck with a problem- I could not just write ‘Dear Israeli Farmers’ on an envelope and mail it to Eretz HaKodesh! The Shmita Association offered to distribute my boys’ letter to real farmers who they personally knew needed a little lift in spirit. My boys’ letters really made a difference.”


“I teach a small group of special needs children. I’ve been in this field for over 20 years. I have tried conveying the message of shmita to my students in the past, unsuccessfully. 5768 was the first shmita where I really felt I got the message accross, due to the helpful and sensitive advice and course material that The Shmita Association gave me. What’s more, is that my students’ parents bought each of them their own plot of land. Each child received an attractive Certificate of Ownership which we hung up in the classroom. They all received a photo of their parcel of land which they love kissing every morning after shachris. Their tmimus and love of mitzvos are beyond words.”


It is not uncommon for wealthy businessmen to walk up to yeshiva bochurs, shake their hands, and leave a wad of cash behind “for you to learn maseches so and so for me”. Yet a certain successful American retailer who wishes to remain anonymous, really demonstrated his love for both Torah and shmita, when he decided to gather together a group of serious bochurs and promise them: “Learn hilchos shviyis for an hour a day, for two months, and I’ll buy each of you daled amos of land in Eretz HaKodesh- so that each one of you will actually be able to keep the mitzva of shmita!”


“One Bnos madricha decided to do a four-part pre-shmita series this Elul with her group. They also decided to put together a little shmita presentation at a nearby senior citizens home right before Rosh Hashana. They are planning on chipping in together to buy the oldest lady there a plot of land in Eretz Yisroel so that she will be able to keep a new mitzva- at the age of 95!”


“I’m so humbled to witness the immense popularity that this project has gained and to be a shaliach mitzva for thousands of students and educators worldwide. So many schools took the ‘Shmita Challenge’ of learning and being tested on the educational material that we sent them this past shmita (5768) (in Hebrew, English and/or French), and many more are interested this time around,” explained Rabbi Simcha Margaliot, The Shmita Association’s director. “The students are extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of adding so much meaning to shmita 5775. These students, with their pure desire to keep Hashem’s mitzvos are my daily inspiration!”