On Friday morning at Shdema (an abandoned Israeli Army Base - now used as a Jewish cultural center), 50 young people received certificates for their participation in planting almost 20 dunams of Jewish land between Alon Shvut and Elazar. This is area is called Netzer.
Agricultural Zionism!! That is one of the positive directions of the future of Am Yisrael in its Land. Especially now, when we build a house, and it is torn down because of the building freeze, planting Jewish trees and Jewish vines in Eretz Yisrael is a powerfully terrific way to lay claim to our land and help develop it.
Agricultural Zionism is also an idea that plants an even greater love of the Land/the earth of Israel in the hearts of our next generation. It's a way to renew the age-old love that our people have for our land.
Well, it's not a new idea. Jews have been engaging in Agricultural Zionism in modern history since the members of the first waves of Aliyah planted the orchards of our earliest towns, like Rishon LeZion, Netanya, Mazkeret Batya, etc.
The planting this week was part of an Agricultural Camp, set up by Women in Green and the Yibaneh Fund to begin redeeming the last 60 dunams of Jewish land between Alon Shvut and Elazar. The Arabs, along with their European Union and leftwing supporters, have been aggressively planting on this land, wanting to break the continuity between our communities.
No one has stopped the Arabs' illegal and chutzpadik (brazen) planting on Gush Etzion land, and there has been no response until 50 kids rolled up their sleeves to plant Jewish trees in the area. About 15 girls and 35 boys (in separate camps) signed up to work the land. Almost immediately there was a waiting list of 200 teenagers. (If there were more funds for more planting, more teenagers could have been accepted.) This entire week, these young people could be found on our hillsides with the homes of their friends and family in the background.
The teenagers worked very hard. The boys were all decked out in work clothes, looking like farming pros, and the girls were on the job in their flip flops and skirts! They all had blisters on the hands and sunburns on their necks. But they didn't stop. The boys worked a very large area near Elazar. The girls worked two smaller areas, both by Alon Shvut and Elazar. They dug holes in the stubbornly hard earth, laid water pipes, put down plastic coverings (so the plants could be raised organically without pesticides), and planted 36 trees and 220 vines on every dunam of land.
I visited the Netzer camps twice and watched the kids reconnecting to Eretz Yisrael. Their pride in their accomplishment was evident on their faces. Their excitement with each sapling that was planted was contageous. They knew exactly why they were planting and what the goal was - redeeming Jewish land and creating Jewish continuity between Alon Shvut and Elazar. They were well-spoken and enthusiastic. Many live in the area and said that they hoped to come during the year to see their trees. Young boy said that one day he hopes to return with his grandchildren and tell them, "Sabba planted this tree."
Congratulations to all the teenagers who participated in Yibaneh' Agricultural Camp. Congratulations to their madrichim (farming supervisors) from the Galil and Jezreel Valley who were as enthusiastic and dedicated to this project as the children. And congratulations to Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover who initiated this idea, being proactive in a creative way to build up the land of Israel.
For more background, see previous post: http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=3339767115203725254&postID=8225683475865664633
To donate to the Yibaneh Fund and help redeem more land, you may send checks to Women for Israel's Tomorrow- Yibaneh Fund, POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072 or POB 1269, Efrat 90435.
Click here to view the video clip of the Netzer planting: http://www.voices-magazine.com/index.php?page=inside_page&id=156&which=GTV