Volunteers pack food packages to be distributed to needy Israelis. Photo via Michele Chabin/RNS.

On Oct. 3, when Israeli Jews sit down for their pre-Yom Kippur meal, prior to the Day of Atonement fast, many will be discussing where to buy their produce during this agricultural sabbatical year.

That’s because this Jewish New Year, 5775, is a sabbatical year, when, according to the Bible, the land of Israel is supposed to lie fallow. Called a “shmita” year in Hebrew, the sabbatical is intended to allow the poor to reap whatever may still be growing on the land “so that the poor of your people may eat,” Exodus 23:11.

The start of the sabbatical-year prohibitions, which include sowing, planting, pruning, reaping, harvesting and improving the land, coincided with the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that began this year on Sept. 24. Produce planted before the shmita can be harvested this year.

But people have to eat, so a century ago rabbis found a way to bypass the law so no one goes hungry.

Sara J. Wolcott 11-05-2013

In India, a church initiative helps promote sustainability and connect farmers with the dignity of their vocation.

Danny Duncan Collum 06-05-2013

Wendell Berry, photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler

According to Wendell Berry, all you need to have hope is one good example.

Rev. Libby Shannon 12-18-2012
Photo via Interfaith Action of SW Florida

Photo via Interfaith Action of SW Florida

We have reached that point in the year when the images we are inundated with show off variations on a theme: the Norman Rockwell-esque holiday gathering. They are a testament to the ability of advertising to tug on our heartstrings as the large, joyful family sits down to a table lavishly set with the antique china, candles twinkling, and a feast spread as the Christmas meal in all its glory looms and the joy and generosity of the season is palpable.

Here in Florida, the grocery store chain Publix is as ubiquitous to holiday celebrations as pie. Publix has been a part of our Christmas celebrations for generations and yet this year impromptu runs to the family-owned grocer will simply not be an option for the Reverend Clay Thomas, or for those who stand with him. 

As it turns out, earlier this year Reverend Thomas was ejected and then banned from a Sarasota, Fla., Publix

His crime?

He supports the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

Robert Gronski 08-01-2012

Vegetables, Konstanttin /

Will Congress cut food stamps, conservation, and the farmer safety net—or fail to pass a Farm Bill at all?

Julie Clawson 01-24-2012

Beyond the typical objections that the Harry Potter books will turn children into Satan-worshipers and encourage them to disrespect authority, one mom complained that she found it inappropriate that at Hogwarts food magically appears on the table at mealtime. Her argument was that she wants her children to have a good work ethic and not to believe that anything in life is free. She wanted her girls to know that preparing meals is hard work and so would therefore be sheltering them from this absurd depiction of people getting something for nothing.

I think at the time I had to restrain myself from asking if she also banned her kids from hearing the story of the feeding on the 5,000 in Sunday school, but it was hard not to think about her objection a few months later as I read The Goblet of Fire and its subplot about house elves. As it revealed, food does not magically appear on the tables at Hogwarts, it is prepared by hardworking elves who in the wizarding world are generally kept as slaves.

Cathleen Falsani 10-31-2011

Thai-spiced pumpkin soup. Faux Stuffed "Intestines" Pie (totally vegetarian!) Roasted pumpkin seeds. Spooky ghost meringues. White bean pizza. And more treats that are good for you, festively Halloweenish, and kind to Mother Earth.

Stacey Schwenker 10-28-2011


If you buy your candy in the United States, chances are that your treats are filled with more than sugar and empty calories. They also may hold the blood, sweat, and tears of an African children who should be in elementary school rather than slaving in cocoa fields.

Ivone Guillen 10-05-2011
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How ironic that for all the protests going on about unemployment these days that a parallel debate is occurring in our agricultural sector: What to do about a shortage of workers to pick crops or care for livestock on U.S. farms.

Brian McLaren 08-23-2011

110823-prayinTo the farmers who grow our food, the harvesters who pick it, the transporters who bring it to market, the grocers who present it, and the cooks who prepare it.

Here's the prayer we prayed at a nearby Publix grocery in the produce section on Friday:

A Prayer for Publix

Living God, you are the Creator of this beautiful and fertile world. You made sun, rain, soil, air, seed, and seasons. We praise you for the green of lettuce, the yellow of lemon, the orange of a tangerine, and especially for the bright red of a tomato. They are beautiful to our eyes, delicious to our taste buds, and nourishing to our bodies. We pray to the Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.

Sami Awad 08-03-2011

100216_090527-1503-palestineWhenever I give talks on the effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian livelihood, the status of nonviolence as a means to resisting the occupation, and how I believe nonviolence is the only way to move forward to resolve the conflict and create a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, one of the first and immediate questions I get from foreign visitors to my office in Bethlehem is, What you said is good, but what about the Muslims? Do they also believe in nonviolence? Do they understand it?" Even if I don't mention religion in my presentation -- and I rarely do -- this question always seems to make its way in our discussions.

The Editors 08-01-2011

Mohandas Gandhi was keenly aware of the root causes of hunger, and he knew that the problem was not a lack of resources on God’s good earth.

Jim Wallis 07-28-2011

1100728-godiswatchingadThe markets are watching, the Republicans are watching, the Democrats are watching, the media are watching, the pollsters and pundits are watching. The public is watching and is disgusted with Washington, D.C.

When it comes to the bitter and ultra-partisan battles over the budget, the deficit, and the fast-approaching deadline for America defaulting on its financial commitments, the whole nation and even the world is watching.

But God is watching too.

Elizabeth Palmberg 07-08-2011

Don't get me wrong -- I love sitting behind my computer here at Sojourners, or proofreading a stack of magazine-pages-to-be, fresh from Art Director Ed Spivey's printer. But sometimes there's no substitute for being on the scene, live and in person.

Jeannie Choi 06-10-2011

The Onion. Palin. Pick Our Cover. Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • "Dear Children of Troy: Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. That's the advice of your good friend, Dr. Seuss."
The Hebrew scriptures recount time and again how God blesses the earth with enough provision and food for its inhabitants.
Rose Marie Berger 03-08-2011

On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights marchers attempted to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of equal voting rights for blacks and whites.

Tom Getman 03-04-2011
President Barack Obama's decision to veto the February 18 U.N.
Jacqueline Klamer 02-22-2011

More than a year after an earthquake stalled the country's economy, some business owners in Haiti have recovered and expanded production faster than expected. "The key word is innovation," says Daniel Jean-Louis, business professor in Port-au-Prince.

Jim Wallis 11-18-2010
There has been a lot of talk about deficits lately. This is for good reasons. Our personal and national relationship to debt is indeed a moral issue.