Shmita year approaching (Illustration)
Photo: Dalit Shacham
Poll: 62% don't know next year is shmita year
Most Israelis ignorant of fact coming Jewish year is shmita year; many non-religious Jews feel shmita irrelevant today

The Jewish shmita (sabbatical) year starts in two and-a-half weeks, but most Israelis are unaware of this fact, a poll conducted by the Smith Institute among 500 adult Jewish Israelis found.


According to the Torah, during the shmita year, which takes place once every seven years, farmland in the Land of Israel has to remain uncultivated.


While 71% of respondents knew what the term "shmita" meant (91% of the religious public and about two-thirds of the observant and non-religious public), 62% of them did not know that the coming Jewish year of 5768 was a shmita year.


When asked for their view on the practice of shmita, 78% of religious and haredi respondents said that it represented ecological, social and spiritual values and that it should be implemented in our times, despite the difficulties in doing so.


Meanwhile, 43% of the non-religious public said that the concept of shmita was relevant for times when most people were farmers, and that it was no longer relevant today.


Most of the religious and haredi participants (56%) stated that the Chief Rabbinate should be the authority deciding on shmita year matters, while most non-religious (52%) and traditional Jews (58%) said that a government office should be in charge of shmita issues.


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