Shmuel Sackett, founder and CEO of Am Yisrael Chai, spoke with Arutz Sheva about his organization’s efforts to support Jewish farmers in Israel keep the sabbatical (Shmittah) year.
“Am Yisrael Chai was founded in 2001,” said Sackett. “We’re doing a lot of great things. So far we’ve planted 500,000 brand new fruit trees across Israel.”
“This year, thanks to the Dream Raffle, we’re going to be helping farmers keeping the Sabbatical, the Shmittah year.”
“There are a lot of organizations and different programs that were helping to raise money before the Shmittah. And that’s all fine and good. We also helped farmers plant 70,000 fruit trees right up to the Shmittah deadline.”
“The question now is, what do those farmers do for sustenance, for their livelihood, for the next 12 months. Everybody says, ‘You are a farmer, you should take the year off’. Okay, we’ll you’re still working, what about this guy?”
“Now we have to help those farmers if we support what they do. And we definitely are in support.”
“Not all of them are religious. Many of them are secular guys. But they believe in the holiness of the land, in the holiness of the sabbatical year and in the blessings that Hashem sends to those who keep the sabbatical year.”
“All that is fine and good, but what about paying the grocery bill? I’ve taken it upon myself that over 50% of the funds from this year’s Dream Raffle will go to help those farmers provide sustenance for their families this whole year.”
“We all want to come back to the way it was – what we call Biblical Israel, both in terms of its boundaries and the way it was kept.”
“We have other projects as well. Last year, we helped a lot of Israeli businesses which were damaged because of the coronavirus. We’re continuing to help them.”
“We are also helping the Israel Dog Unit in their tremendous work for search-and-rescue and anti-terror dogs.”
“We also help a soup kitchen in Ramla provide 300 meals a day for poor people, and other projects as well.”
Despite the economic downturn, donors are still “stepping up to the plate,” Sackett said. “There are wonderful people across the world who are giving and donating and buying raffle tickets.”
The prize in the Dream Raffle is an apartment in Jerusalem worth one million dollars, Sackett said, with an alternative cash option.
“Not just an apartment – this is a luxury apartment with a view of the Temple Mount. You can open up your window and see the Temple.”