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Love for Environment & Land of Israel: Cleaning Golan's Gum Rock

Yeshivat Lech Lecha, the high school on wheels, has cleaned thousands of pieces of chewing gum off of Gum Rock in the Golan Heights.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/19/2009, 5:19 PM

Yeshivat Lech Lecha – also known as the yeshiva high school on wheels – has completed its latest project: Cleaning thousands of pieces of chewing gum off of Gum Rock in the Golan Heights. 

Over the years, placing chewing gum on Gum Rock has become a tradition among hikers from all over the country, leading to a sticky collection of thousands of wads in every crevice of the milestone boulder. The students of Lech Lecha, combining their environmental concerns, love for the Land of Israel, and desire to accomplish, have now returned the rock (nearly) to its pristine state. The project was carried out in conjunction with the National Parks Authority.

The school, compactly sized with only 15 students, is named for the command G-d gave Abraham when He told him to “get yourself going” to the Land of Israel. Its name signifies the mobility of the school’s educational format; twice a week, the students – accompanied by teachers, desks and books – scramble onto Land Rover jeeps and take off to one or another part of Israel, where their “classes” will be held.

The youths are considered “at risk,” having not succeeded in conventional educational formats, but now managing to “find themselves” in the more relaxed structure of Lech Lecha.

The students arrived at the Devorah Waterfall in the Golan Heights on Sunday, and used chisels, metal brushes and a special chewing gum removal product to remove the wads of gum that had been placed there by thousands of their predecessors. The product, Delta DP200, is a biodegradable spray that does not melt the gum, thus turning it into a sticky mess, but rather releases the gum’s adhesion.

Rocks, Not Earth
Rabbi David Samson, the yeshiva’s founder and dean, explains that love for the Land's rocks one-ups affection for its dirt. "Kissing the earth of the Land of Israel is a known measure of one’s love for the Land," he explained, "but in reality, one’s attitude to the rocks of the Land can give over even a stronger message. Both are featured in a verse in Psalms 102,15. But the late renowned Rabbi A. I. Kook explained that the Sages who kissed the rocks of the Land showed that even those parts of the Land that are infertile and can produce nothing are precious and beloved in our eyes.”

left: Hikers fulfill modern tradition by placing chewing gum on Gum Rock

right: removing it


 

The Atid Network
Lech Lecha is just one of five schools in Rabbi Samson’s network of educational institutions, known as Atid [Future].  Totaling some 200 students, the network includes two evening schools, one for high school boys and one for high school girls; YTA (Yerushalayim Torah Academy) for English-speaking high school students who have recently made Aliyah [immigration to Israel]; and Kraticha [I have called out to You], for girls who wish to combine their high school studies with high-level Torah learning.

Photos courtesy of Lech Lecha