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Friday, August 19, 2022
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Seven years ago, in our second year of aliyah, Israel entered into her shemitah year. It was my first time ever living in Israel during shemitah, and every experience was so special and new. One of my most moving memories of our aliyah-newness is tied to this unique time of year. My husband and I and our then-second grader Rafi drove to Shaalavim to join Rafi’s classmates in the end-of-the-shemitah-year festivities. As the children ran out on the overgrown fields, the first tractor plowing in over a year followed their dusty trails and their sweet singing. There were special tefillot and dancing and l’chaims, and a real celebration of welcoming the earth back into her new cycle of growth and prosperity. (Our son was also completely and utterly embarrassed by his parents’ very American mifta/accent, but that is another story altogether.)

At the end of the Shaalavim shemitah party I had never felt so connected to nature and to the land of Israel herself. It was such a moving and “holy” experience that it has stayed with me all these years and truly jump-started a deeper personal relationship with nature here in Eretz Yisrael and with our planet. With the start of Rosh Hashanah this year, Israel entered into her shemitah year once again. In restaurants, grocery stores and especially at the Shabbat table it is common to hear terms like heter mechira, otzar haaretz or nochri. It is so ingrained into the day-to-day lifestyle here that it feels “normal” now. All over the country you can hear people discussing, learning and truly trying to engage themselves as best as possible in this mitzvah that is as special and unique to the people of Eretz Yisrael as it is to the land itself.

Hush, Little Land, has been seven years in the making, so to speak, since that pivotal moment for me standing in the overgrown fields in Shaalvim at the end-of-shemitah festival. It is a tribute to our beautiful, strong and vibrant land that constantly gives to her people, and now, in the seventh year once again, gets her much-deserved, blissful rest.

Hush, Little Land

Hush, little land,

tan, green and gold,

it’s been

seven years;

now

it’s time to sleep.

Pull up your patchwork blanket,

moonlit and mossy.

Let the westerly winds rock you to sweet slumber.

Under a mobile of constellations

in a velvet sky,

you begin to drift.

Hush little land,

tan, green and gold,

it’s time for us to part.

Your golden-grained wheatfields have grown so tall,

they stretch their long loosened limbs,

yawning before their slumber,

and swaying in the evening breeze.

Breathe in deeply the sweet saffron air,

and kiss the night before you go.

Hush, little land,

tan green and gold,

I’ll rock you now to sleep.

Dig deep your roots,

in the soft suede earth,

snug and swaddled in sunflower and sage.

Rest your weary head

on a pillow of willow

and wisteria.

Nestled in your cradle of pine,

your sacred sleep awaits.

Hush, little land,

tan green and gold,

your work, for now, is done.

Dream and drift…

on a sliver of

silver moonbeam

you float free,

as the harvest moon kisses

your pale pink petals

and the new dew

cocoons you

in a long,

lavender lullaby.

Hush, little land,

tan green and gold,

I’ll kiss you before I turn off the lights.

Dream of new beginnings…

of peace and promise,

of laughter and love,

of healing and hope,

of blessings and bliss.

Sleep and dream,

sweet little land.

Sleep and dream.

Esti Rosen Snukal made aliyah with her husband and four sons nine years ago from Teaneck, NJ. They currently live in Chashmonaim along with their puppy Ruby. Esti is a contributor to the Jewish Link, documenting her aliyah journey. Follow Esti on instagram @esti1818 and on Facebook.

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