What’s My Line? Another Visit to the Shmitah Store

Original post:

Zemira is a cashier at “Shefa me-ha-Teva” (Nature’s Bounty). We call it the shmita store because it markets the produce of the organization Otzar Haaretz. Otzar Haaretz provides produce acceptable during the sabbatical year, while striving to protect local Jewish agriculture.

Whenever I visit I look for Zemira. She’ll get my kids a drink of water, but my four-year-old will never use that store’s bathroom again. Zemira knows that the cheaper melons outside the store are not heter mechira but are grown in the arava, just like the Otzar Haaretz melons. More on that in a separate post, bli neder.

Zemira noticed me photographing the produce. When I told her about my post last October, she brought me to the office to pull it up on the computer. Roni, the owner, was disappointed that I don’t write in Hebrew. He made sure I photographed Zemira, but refused his own chance at immortality because he hadn’t shaved recently.
Roni introduced me to two farmers visiting the store. I wasn’t able to confirm the information they gave me.
Rami, pictured above, was a farmer in Gush Katif. He grew tomatoes, sherry (cherry tomatoes), and lettuce. He lived in Kerem Shalom, which is a kilometer from the Egyptian border and two kilometers from the Rafiah crossing to Gaza.
Rami recently moved to Petach Tikva to pursue an artisitic career. Next month his sculpture of the town’s founder, Yoel Moshe Salomon, will be exhibited on a main street. In the famous song, The Ballad of Yoel Moshe Salomon [lyrics], Salomon sets out from Jaffa along the Yarkon river on his horse until he reaches the site where Petach Tikva now sits. After a false start, Petach Tikva became the first Jewish city founded in modern times, and recently chose the horse as its municipal symbol. But Rami depicts Salomon riding a motorcycle.

I offered to post a picture of his sculpture, but Rami demurred because “haredim don’t buy art.” A lot of secular Israelis confuse haredim and religious Zionists and Roni tried to set him straight. I asked Rami to call me when the sculpture goes up; he said he would.

Next I met David, an agronomist who came to assist Roni with a tripsim problem. Roni asked if I knew what tripsim were and I said they were tiny insects. He said they were not insects, but mosquitoes, or lice. I said that lice are insects and they agreed that tripsim (thrips) are also insects. I guess these guys are entomologically challenged, like my son’s former ganenet. David diagnosed the problem as high temperature during transport.

I didn’t ask how thrips got into bug-free lettuce in the first place (it has nothing to do with spontaneous generation). The kashrut supervisor takes a number of lettuce samples and if they are clean, the lettuce gets an okay. Lettuce doesn’t have to be 100% bug-free, kind of like my challah. So tripsim, once there, can multiply in the right conditions.

Like Rami, David has artistic inclinations and sings for the Oyf Simches band. I suspect Roni may have been pulling my leg about this and David’s agronomic expertise, although I wouldn’t have guessed by Roni’s demeanour. My husband recognized David as the former owner of the makolet across the street. It’s a strange country.


  1. Thanks for introducing us to all these people.

  2. great post! I would have been curious to ask them how they experience shmitta and how otzar haaretz works out for them…

  3. I feel the need to sing “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?” from Sesame Street after reading this post. Great work, MII!

  4. mother in israel says

    Leora, he didn’t show me a sample.

  5. LOL about both the lettuce and challah not having to be 100% bug free.

  6. “haredim don’t buy art”
    His generalization is basically true, as I don’t know many religious Zionists that do buy art.
    All the same, it might have been nice to see his work.

  7. Hi!
    I just found your blog, while I was searching for Jewish blogs.
    My name is Melissa and I also have a blog. It’s called Sunbonnet Cottage.
    In the last year, I joined Partners in Torah and have been studying about the Jewish religion. I am Jewish and knew absoultely nothing about it.
    Your blog is wonderful. It gives me an opportunity to learn more about being Jewish and about our people.
    Thank you for creating such a wonderful place to visit.

  8. Lion in Zion says

    great post
    “but my four-year-old will never use that store’s bathroom again.”

  9. mother in israel says

    Baila, I liked that line too.
    Melissa, thank you, please come back often and comment.
    LOZ, thanks, been waiting for you to comment. My daughter has a sensitive olfactory organ, not worthy of an entire post. You should ask Abbi about her daughter, though.

  10. mother in israel says

    LOZ loves toilet-training stories. . .share with us.

  11. MII, are you referring to a certain indelicate incident that might have happened during our visit, hmmm? đŸ˜‰

  12. Well, MII were at the lovely Petach Tikva municipal park, chatting about schools, etc. The kids were playing within eyesight.
    All of the sudden, my older daughter comes running over and says “Come see, quick!”. I thought Tehilla, my three year old, might have fallen, but I didn’t hear any crying.
    No, no falls. But she did leave a nice, um, gift on the ground! Apparently she thought the Israeli penchant for peeing in the bushes applied to number 2 also! On the grass! Next to the bungee climbing structure! I was horrified, cleaned it up with some wipes (no pooper scoopers on me) and told her about 20 times, firmly, that we do not make cocky on the grass. Ever.
    (Of course, prior to this episode, I only offered her a chance to use the nice bathrooms that were about 10 meters away about 4-5 times. Now instead of asking her, I just tell her it’s time to go to the bathroom. Works better)
    I also have to laugh that this happened to me, because I remember a few years ago, I took my oldest to the park when she was about 2 and an older boy suddenly started peeing next to the climbing structure. In the sand. I was horrified. The mother didn’t do a thing, and I’m not sure if she saw. Maybe I told her, I can’t remember. Serves me right for being judgmental.

  13. mother in israel says

    “I was horrified.” We are always so sure our kids won’t ever do anything like that!