web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



With Olive Oil, Olim Spread the Light of Torah

Bring your family, tour group, seminary or yeshiva. You'll have lots of fun picking the olives and turning them into oil - all within a few hours.

Bring your family, tour group, seminary or yeshiva. You'll have lots of fun picking the olives and turning them into oil - all within a few hours.
Photo Credit: shemenlameor.org/

Two olim are taking charge to revitalize one of Israel’s oldest agricultural areas. Combining tzedakah and environmentalism, Nili Abrahams and Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, through their new organization, Shemen LaMeor, are harvesting olives that would otherwise be wasted, creating pure oil to raise money for yeshivas, schools, and food programs for needy families in their community, Yavne’el, and throughout the Lower Galilee.

From the Torah, the phrase “shemen lameor” means “oil that illuminates.” “The whole purpose,” says Abrahams, “is to use the oil to spread light… and light is Torah.”

To highlight the importance of trees, the pair, along with local rabbis and other community members, unveiled the organization this past Tu b’Shvat. The organization will use the area’s surplus olives and boutique kosher olive oil to build relationships within and beyond Israel.

They are also raising awareness about the increasingly dire situation in the region. The Lower Galilee, two hours from Jerusalem, had strong agricultural origins, which still attract many olim. “People love the idea of connection with the land,” says Abrahams, “of a safe haven for the children… a very simple lifestyle.” Yet that agricultural way of life is threatened by many forces.

Twenty minutes from Tiberias, Yavne’el, home to 3,000 residents, “had an incredible heyday of agriculture: tobacco, date palms, olives, citrus,” says Abrahams.

But the older generation of farmers can’t maintain their fields. And, she says, “if farmers can’t afford to keep up their farms… there is a significant number of Arabs waiting to buy up the land.”

According to the latest Israeli Census Bureau statistics, for 2011, the Arab population in northern Israel (not including Haifa) is just over 53 per cent, while Jews make up just under 44 per cent.

The Israeli government and organizations like Nefesh b’Nefesh have been battling to rebuild the Jewish presence in the region since the 1980s. In Dec. 2013, the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division announced its intention to build two new towns for 100,000 Jewish residents. At the time, MK Hanna Swaid criticized the move as part of a “demographic war” that is meaningless without “infrastructure improvements and a reduction in the… employment gaps.”

Idyllic in some ways, life in the Lower Galilee can be devastating for families. “Most of the men aren’t home for the week, just for Shabbat. Some travel to Jerusalem, some travel to Bnei Brak… to work, and then come home for Shabbat,” says Abrahams, who has run a bed and breakfast with her husband Arnie since making aliyah to the area from Toronto, Canada two and a half years ago.


Shemen LaMeor will create jobs and reinvigorate the region’s agriculture while preserving its unique character. “Kids here know how to plant, herd sheep, ride horses,” Abrahams says. “They really have a very good feel for the land; they know how to lead a simple life.”

Rabbi Veffer, creator of the KosherLamp, which has changed late-night Shabbat reading for religious families around the world, was Associate Rabbi of Toronto’s The Village Shul Aish HaTorah Learning Centre before returning to Israel nearly four years ago.

Abrahams says they both wanted to help out by tapping into local resources that would otherwise be wasted. “A lot of the olive trees are actually abandoned, not picked, nothing’s done with them.”

“The area is blessed with abundance,” she says. “Everyone’s got citrus and passionfruit and everyone’s got olives… We’re reclaiming the land, reclaiming the olives.”

Rich in Jewish history, the area around Yavne’el is where, according to the Book of Judges, the warrior Deborah led her battle against Canaanite general Sisera. It’s also the site of the Golani tree, the oak tree symbolizing the legendary IDF brigade. Nearby Tiberias is considered the fourth-holiest city in Judaism, where the Jerusalem Talmud was written and the great teacher Maimonides buried.

Shemen LaMeor has built relationships with farmers to secure 1500 dunam (1.5 square kilometres) of land to prepare for its first picking season this fall. They will compensate some farmers with a tax receipt, others with a percentage of the oil for personal use or resale.

Abrahams says the organization welcomes volunteers, seminary and yeshiva students, and other willing groups, who will donate their labour for a morning or afternoon and learn how olives are picked and processed into one of Israel’s purest, most ancient bounties. “We’ll press the oil for them on the spot… it’ll be a great part of their visit to the north.”

Together, they hope to extend the Jewish world’s appreciation for Israel in its entirety. “I see this as a way of going beyond Jerusalem,” says Abrahams. “Every single part of Israel is vital… to our existence.”

“The abundance here is God-given. We don’t want to waste that… so we’re using the abundance for ohr, to spread the light of Torah around the world.” For more information about Shemen LaMeor, visit shemenlameor.org.

About the Author: Jennifer MacLeod is a regular freelancer for the Canadian Jewish News, in addition to publishing on Aish.com, Jewish Action, Jewish Homemaker, New York Jewish Week, and Horizons Magazine. She blogs at Adventures in AliyahLand


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “With Olive Oil, Olim Spread the Light of Torah”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.
Klinghoffer: Pretending Art Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry
Latest News Stories
Tourists  ride segways down a promenade in Tel Aviv.

The US warns people to buy gas masks if visiting, Israel warns of world-wide anti-Semitism.

Unwelcome sign for Jews.

This happened in Britain in 2014, not in Germany in 1939.

A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.

The Met’s upcoming opera trivializes the murder of Jews, pretends Jews have no connection to Israel, and portrays terrorists as victims.

Toy doll filled with ammunition was discovered in package destined for Uzbekistan.

Never, never, never take packages from someone without knowing what is inside.

Anti-radical Islam begins to trump anti-Semitism.

The presence of ISIS has created a “great need” for Hezbollah to remain in Syria, says an official from the Lebanese terror group’s executive council.

Gadi Yarkoni, the last person injured during Operation Protective Edge, was released today from Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Hamas denies its politburo chief Khaled Meshaal will leave Qatar; the monarchy evicted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

United Nations peacekeepers are pulling out of Syria and heading for the Israeli side of the border due to deteriorating security.

Police arrest three in connection with anti-Semitic vandalism in Sderot, including slathered green swastikas and dripping red Satanic symbols.

Yaalon revealed that most of the “8200″ signers do not do reserve duty, and the few that do, haven’t done any in years.

Residents of Gaza Belt communities in the south headed for bomb shelters on a false alarm at midday Monday. Northern Israel was hit earlier.

11:41am Talk about really bad timing. Sirens heard in Shomron communities were an (unannounced) siren test in the community of Maaleh Shomron. The siren was heard in Karnei Shomron, Ginot Shomron, Yakir, Nofim and Emmanuel. It was *only* a test. 11:39 am OK. Now this is just strange. Rocket Siren heard in Karnei Shomron (in the Shomron) […]

12:04pm IDF says there was no rocket launch at Israel from Gaza. Gazan sources say a rocket misfired and landed inside Gaza. No explosions or rocket landings were heard inside Israel. Conclusion: It’s more likely that no rocket was launched and it was a false alarm. We will update this article, if we learn something new. […]

PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas reportedly plans to ask French Pres. Francois Hollande to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign nation.

For the first time ever, Israel appoints a woman to serve as ambassador to an Arab country. Einat Schlein is posted to Jordan.

More Articles from Jennifer M. MacLeod
Bring your family, tour group, seminary or yeshiva. You'll have lots of fun picking the olives and turning them into oil - all within a few hours.

Shemen LaMeor will create jobs and reinvigorate the region’s agriculture while preserving its unique character.

Jennifer snapped a selfie in front of the Knesset before PM Harper's Jan. 21 speech.

Having made aliyah from Canada last August, I’m one of the newest Israelis, but this week, I’m also one of the proudest.

Reintroducing graphology (handwriting analysis) to the clinical mainstream.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/with-olive-oil-olim-spread-the-light-of-torah/2014/02/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: