A new Sh’mitah initiative is taking place in the Bais Yaakov Academy of Queens. A three-week S’firas HaOmer program entitled “SH’MITAH AND ME – Making Sh’mitah Personal” encourages the girls to internalize the lessons and practice the good midos learned from this mitzvah. After all, Sh’mitah is a mitzvah for farmers in Eretz Yisrael. What does it have to do with me? This is the goal of our program.

The program was introduced at a third-to-eighth grade assembly. In conjunction with the Eretz Chemda Sh’mitah Program, a year-long program whereby grades 5-8 have been learning via Zoom with teachers in Eretz Yisrael, a Sh’mitah-observant farmer addressed the students. It was truly a memorable experience to hear firsthand about the challenges of keeping Sh’mitah from Avichai Koch and meeting his wife, Keren, a partner in this unique mitzvah. His fine demeanor and love of Eretz Yisrael were quite evident.

Rabbi Ginsparg, menahel, addressed the students and stated what an honor it was for us in BYQ to be able to meet one of the “giborim” and “mal’achim” of our generation. As a kohen, Rabbi Ginsparg gave a brachah to Mr. Koch; however, he asked him for one in return. A Sh’mitah farmer’s brachah is very potent, since he is moser nefesh for Hashem’s mitzvos.

Mrs. Jurkowitz, limudei kodesh principal, thanked Rabbi Merrill, the Eretz Chemda liaison, for the fantastic program, and expressed how much the girls are enjoying the long-distance classes and gaining so much knowledge regarding Sh’mitah. She also presented him and the farmer couple with a basket filled with fruit-shaped notes from the students, showing appreciation and expressing their impressions of the Eretz Chemda program.

Mrs. Taub, midos program coordinator, then explained the details of the new Sh’mitah and MeProgram and taught the Sh’mitah theme song, beautifully recorded in acapella by Mrs. Rena Greenberg. Special thanks to Mrs. Chedva Abrahamson for creating a beautiful slide presentation with the words. It was truly a memorable morning.

The mitzvah of Sh’mitah and its important lessons have most definitely come alive in the minds and hearts of our BYQ students!