A Message From Israel: Day 4 – Cucumbers & Making Good Neighbors

Older man and middle-aged woman pack cucumbers

Rabbi Sue Shankman and some WHC members are currently in Israel. They will be providing updates of what they are seeing and feeling on this visit to the Holy Land. Read previous entries: ArrivalDay 2 | Day 3

Have you ever thought about who packs the produce in the supermarket? If you are in Israel, the end cucumber you buy may have been packed by one of your fellow WHC members!

Our fourth day began on Moshav beit Ezra, where we supported second-generation farmer Shlomi along with Clemens and Bazir as we packed 4,000 lbs (two tons) of cucumbers! Volunteers from the U.S., Europe, South America, and beyond have filled in the gaps left by the thousands of soldiers called up for reserve duty due to the war. That impact is felt throughout the country — in agriculture, the food industry, and retail shops; many have skeleton hours or are closed altogether.

We visited with Mayor Oded Ravivi of the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion. He and his family moved to Efrat not for philosophical reasons, but because it was affordable and at the time it took only 15 minutes to drive to his law office in Jerusalem. Now it takes an hour because the infrastructure is not equipped to keep up with the population growth. But he doesn’t need to market Efrat — it has received several awards for the best education in Israel.

The founders of Efrat planned the city not to be surrounded by a fence. They left green areas of Arab-owned land and united against building the barrier through their community, as their intention was to build bridges, not fences. He shared examples of cooperation and good neighbors.

Sadly, he reflected that since October 7, the extremists have been setting the tone. A 15-year incumbent, he is up for election next week. He shared that the biggest issue he faces in this election is security. Many in Efrat have been expressing concern about Arab workers in the schools and on the streets of their community.

We were reminded of the adage that good fences make good neighbors. In Efrat, they maintain the hope that no fences will continue to make for good neighbors, good friends, and collaboration that maintains peace.

Our day ended with our arrival in Jerusalem, the City of Peace.