Shmita 5775- What's happening in Israel

published on: 28-09-2014

Israeli Shmita has generated some remarkable initiatives to enable Israelis to experience a year of personal, communal, and national transformation:

 

A Year of Volunteering and Giving

Shmita invites us to share our “abundance.”  Today, when most of us don’t have our own piece of land, we can connect to the idea through giving our time or our skills (through which most of us earn a living) for the sake of others.  Many communities are opening their “gates of time” on behalf of youth at risk, disadvantaged families, and others in need.  An online Time Bank enables one to choose volunteer opportunities based on one’s availability and skill set. 

A Year of Cultural Creativity

Beit Avichai, a clearinghouse for Jewish Israeli creativity, established a think tank for cinematographers, designers, and new media specialists, who learned together about Shmita and its values and embarked on the creation of new-old expressions of Israeli society.  

 

A Year of Financial “Reboot”

MK Ruth Calderon initiated a special Shmita Foundation, which collects funds to help needy families who are working with the guidance of professional consultants (Pa’amonim, Ezra Migad, Hasdei Lev, and others) to settle their debts and begin the journey toward financial recovery.  The initiative has also engaged banks nationwide in partially forgiving debts in order to help families get a fresh start.

 

A Year of Virtual Rest 

The Merkam youth group – a network of secular and religious communities – initiated a collective “disconnect” from Facebook for the sake of real social interaction, face to face.  They are part of a wider phenomenon of people and communities who are finding the spirit of Shmita by giving up the “virtual land” that we are walking on in recent years -  a month without Facebook or WhatsApp, a year without handheld devices in one’s leisure hours….starting this week.

 

A Year of Personal Growth  

Israeli Shmita invites everyone to learn about the mitzvah of Shmita and consider how he or she can actualize it on a personal and communal level.  There is no limit to what you can “take on” in order to internalize the messages of Shmita – reducing the number of hours at work, joining a study group or class, buying more local, seasonal food…

 

A Year of Sustainable Hi-Tech

Yossi Tsuria, a founder of NDS, a video-software company now part of Cisco Systems, has been promoting a list of 49 things technology firms might try to fulfill the shmita spirit. They include a patent pool, where companies could donate patents not part of their core business to be used by any entrepreneur; required rotation of business models and management positions, and: “A year without exorbitant bonuses. The money can be directed to social causes.”  Read more about this in the New York Times. 

 

 

Read more about the Israeli Shmita buzz: 

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/our-collective-sabbatical/

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/.premium-1.616096

http://www.rehovotisrael.com/rehovotreporter/2014/09/13/shmita-yisraelit-can-actualize-biblical-vision-modern-israel

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Two-shmitot-376244