Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Ellul 5767 - September 11, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Jerusalem Finishes Planting 80,000 Perennials in Preparation for Shmittah

By Yechiel Sever

The Jerusalem Municipality recently finished an intensive planting effort in preparation for the Shmittah year, following a tree-planting effort last month. The annuals the Municipality typically plants twice a year were taken out to make room for over 80,000 perennials planted in divider strips, traffic circles, public parks and various municipal projects.

Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky initiated the Shmittah preparation program, instructing municipal workers on how to preserve the city's appearance while upholding the laws of Shmittah. Rabbonim from Beis Hamedrash Lehalacha Behisyashvus held courses for professional staff members at the Department of Urban Improvement, municipal subsidiary companies, contractors and the light-rail project.

Employees received overviews of Shmittah issues such as watering gardens, hoeing and pruning and permitted ways to preserve shrubs and trees planted in the sixth year. Based on a recommendation by the Agricultural Ministry, it was decided to replicate the European model by planting perennials rather than annuals, which must be replanted a few times a year. Attractive and of better quality, these plants are able to continue flowering throughout the seventh year and do not require care that is forbidden during Shmittah. Perennials are also chosen in many European countries because they require less water.

Mayor Lupoliansky also led a plan to implement Shmittah in other cities throughout the country, enlisting the help of the Center for Local Government, which assisted in the publication of a Shmittah gardening booklet distributed to local authority employees around the country.

The team the Mayor set up to prepare local authorities for Shmittah includes HaRav Shaul Reichenberg and HaRav Moshe Efrati of Beis Hamedrash Lehalacha Behisyashvus, Dr. Moshe Zacks, a scientist at the Institute for Torah-Based Agriculture, members of the Jerusalem Municipality's Department of Urban Improvement, the director of the Department for Plant Engineering at the Agricultural Ministry, Mr. Yisrael Galon and various professionals. In recent months the team has been touring different cities that are about to keep Shmittah for the first time.

Rabbi Lupoliansky said, "The information campaigns and extensive efforts that have been invested in the program have turned Jerusalem into the nationwide center for guidance and practical instruction on the issue of Shmittah and for the first time succeeded in bringing about an understanding at local authorities that Shmittah can be upheld in accordance with halochoh without detracting from a city's pleasing aesthetics."


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