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Israel: Ultra-Orthodox kids grow a green thumb in ‘mitzvah’ gardens

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The gardens, like this one in Modiin Ilit on March 22, 2017, follow the commandment of kilayim, which requires that each species is planted a certain distance from the other. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

“We’re in a city, we’re not in a moshav or village where we’re exposed to the ideas of orchards and gardens,” Rivkie added.

By Melanie Lidman
The Times of Israel
June 11, 2017

Excerpt:

Families have also gotten into the spirit of the garden. As a year-end gift, Rivkie gave each student a mint plant to grow at home and use for the end-of-Shabbat Havdalah service, which makes use of a pleasant-smelling herb. Rivkie said one girl’s family grew so much mint they gave cuttings to their relatives, and now the whole extended family uses their own mint.

Other initiatives have tried to bring community gardens into the ultra-Orthodox community, but on a much more local level. Barak Ben Hanan, a former high-tech worker turned permaculture educator from Tel Aviv, started three community gardens at special needs schools in Bnei Brak.

“With special needs kids, [the community] is more open to trying new things,” said Ben Hanan, who is secular. “Everyone, the government, cities, and neighborhoods, needs to get a sense of urgency about the environment and try to solve issues that aren’t working well.”

Read the complete article here.

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