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What is Shemitta?


The Shemitta year will commence on the eve of the 24th September 2014 (Start of the Jewish Year 5775).

Shemitta literally means ’sabbatical’ and during this year, the Land of Israel takes an enforced "Sabbath rest", as stated "...and the land shall rest a Sabbath to the L-rd" (Leviticus 25, 1.). During this year there are restrictions on both the agriculture and trade of produce from the Land of Israel. The produce takes on an additional level of holiness which means that it may not be wasted, mistreated or traded in a usual fashion, and some vegetables become forbidden under Gezerat Sefichin (Prohibition against Consuming (certain) Vegetables).

The American Kashrut Authorities policy, in keeping with that of the other European Batei Din (Jewish Law Courts), is that given these considerations, it is preferable to avoid using certain products that are grown in Israel during the Shemitta year and the year following. See the chart below for dates to avoid each fruit and vegetable. If one has already made the purchase, a Rabbinical Authority should be consulted.


Shemitta Terms:

Kedushat Shevi’it: “Holiness of the Seventh Year”
This refers to produce from the seventh year, grown in Israel, which takes on an elevated level of holiness.  A comparison can be made with the holiness of Shabbat which as the seventh day of the week brings an additional level of holiness and some restrictions to honour the day. As stated above, this produce should not be traded commercially nor sent outside Israel, it may not be wasted or used in an unusual manner. However, it is permitted to eat it and it should be treated in a respectful way i.e. leftovers should be wrapped prior to throwing it away.