Fostering Hope Among Israel's Farmers This Shavuot

Next week we celebrate Shavuot, also known as Chag HaKatzir, the Harvest Festival, because it coincides with the grain harvest in Israel. Contrary to other Jewish holidays whose date is noted in the Torah, Shavuot is not determined by a day on the calendar, but rather in relation to the agricultural season. As Israel’s main agricultural producers, kibbutzim have always revered Shavuot, beginning with the days of the early pioneers, who came to revive the land and build communities, embracing this theme by working the soil and celebrating their deep connection to the land and the country.  

This year's holiday celebrations are tempered by the unprecedented challenges faced by so many kibbutzim, particularly those on or near Israel's borders both in the north and south. Not only were dozens of southern kibbutzim and moshavim overrun on October 7th – many suffering horrific loss of life, damages and members taken hostage - but for them and for others in northern Israel, severe limitations on access to their fields, direct damage to farms and equipment, and the tragic loss of foreign workers, have made a hard situation ever more challenging. 

Through our Israel emergency campaign, Federations are actively supporting Israel’s farmers who have dedicated their lives to working the land and providing the country with fresh produce. This assistance is bringing strength to thousands of Israelis, helping ensure Israel’s food security, and allowing famers to mark this year’s Harvest Festival with a feeling of optimism and hope for the future of the country’s agriculture. 

Read more about these efforts below:

ReGrow Israel

On October 7, Hamas terrorists targeted farm equipment and infrastructure as a means of striking at the Israeli economy and the identity of the Western Negev, whose farms supply three-quarters of Israel’s vegetables. ReGrow Israel, an initiative of Volcani International Partnerships, is enabling these farming communities to replace the destroyed or looted agricultural equipment in time for the planting season, allowing for farmers to return to their fields and for Israelis to continue enjoying home-grown produce. Federations and donors can join this effort including by purchasing tractors for specific communities. Read more here and reach out to Evan Hochberg for further information.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is the country’s leading food rescue organization. Leket collects healthy, surplus food - mainly from Israeli farmers - and distributes it to populations in need. When the October 7 attacks intentionally targeted farmers’ livelihoods, Leket stepped in and reciprocated, providing famers and their families with vouchers for urgent needs, recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to help harvest crops, and buying produce to help prevent financial loss. 



Association for Ramat HaNegev’s Residents

Farms in Israel’s southern region are facing an unprecedented crisis. Many farmers were called up for immediate military service, hundreds of foreign workers left the country, and cultivated fields went fallow due to lack of manpower. With Federations’ support the Association for Ramat HaNegev’s Residents was able to create and mobilize a massive volunteer project, bringing volunteers to assist farmers in the south, and providing them with food and accommodation.  



Hashomer HaChadash

HaShomer HaChadash is a Zionist social-educational organization established with the goal of assisting farmers and ranchers and strengthening the Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel, Jewish values, and Zionist identity. It implements a wide variety of volunteer and educational activities in Israel’s agricultural and open spaces. In response to the agricultural crisis that unfolded because of the war, HaShomer HaChadash recruited over 280,000 volunteers to assist over 900 farmers in saving their crops and getting their produce to market.  




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