Photo Credit: courtesy, Leket Israel
Leket Israel 'Sayeret Tapuz' project "rescues" surplus fruit from private yards around Israel for distribution to needy Israelis.

The Leket national food bank of Israel found a creative new way to get across its message of saving surplus food.

The organization launched a “Sayeret Tapuz” project this month in honor of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, known as the ‘New Year for Trees’ and technically marked as the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. (In the United States, some refer to it as the “Jewish Arbor Day.”)


Leket Israel’s “Sayeret Tapuz” project — “Orange Reconnaissance Unit” in English — has involved Israel’s teenagers in “rescuing” surplus produce off trees in private yards all over the country, to be distributed to Israelis in need. (“Sayeret” is usually a reconnaissance or intelligence unit in the Israeli military.)

“Students in schools throughout the U.S. have been decorating bags to be used for this project,” said a spokeswoman for the organization. “This Tu B’Shevat, we have a record number of 500 volunteers for Sayeret Tapuz, in an effort to grow this important initiative to rescue the surplus produce.”

This year for the first time, “many of our Sayeret Tapuz volunteers are special needs teenagers from Gan Yavne,” she added. The project is being carried out this year in Raanana, Kfar Saba, Gan Yavne, Emek Hever, Givat Shmuel, Shoham, Alonei Yitzhak in Emek Israel, and Kibbutz Ichut Haim.

Through the entire season, from October through April, the organization has approximately 1,500 volunteers who carry out the “rescue” effort.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.