Some years ago, on the day after Purim, my son, Yishai, and I traveled to the orchards of Ashkelon to join in a unique reawakening of the custom of gleaning. This volunteer event was sponsored by an organization called Table-to-Table, now called Leket Israel. Table-to-Table was founded by an American immigrant who wanted to do something tangible to help the poor of Israel. So, in addition to carting unused food from catering halls to soup kitchens, Table-to-Table arranged with farmers to come to their fields and orchards after official harvesting and “glean” vegetables and fruits for the needy that would otherwise be left to rot.
That day, Yishai and I found ourselves in the middle of a citrus orchard on an idyllic day. It was sunny and deliciously warm. The sea of trees was bursting with flowers as well as fruit. The blossoms attracted hundreds of bees whose humming was a constant backdrop. At our feet, ants were busy at work on already fallen fruit, darting in and out of their huge sandy mounds to feed their young.
There, we joined a group of people and we picked the oranges still on the trees. It is hard to describe how privileged we both felt to be in this breathtakingly beautiful setting and join in this ancient-modern ritual of joining a community of givers to bring Nature’s bounty to those in need.
You can find more info about the present day Leket and read about how the two groups, Table to Table and Leket, merged to become one.
Here in Beer Sheva, we have our own local very important Be’er Sova,a volunteer organization that feeds hundreds every day and is working on social change, education, and nutrition. Find out more about Beer Sova here.