Chief Rabbinate Shmita Guidelines

As in previous Shmita cycles, this Shmita year, which began on Rosh Hashana 5782, KKL-JNF is observing the laws of Shmita in all forests, parks and sites under its responsibility, in accordance with the directives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.


  • No ceremonial tree planting is done during the Shmita year, other than special exceptions at sites where planting has been preapproved by the Chief Rabbinate.
  • No tree plantings for the public, including at its Plant-a-Tree site for tourists and with schoolchildren for Tu Bishvat, will be carried out during the Shmita year.
  • KKL-JNF will not distribute saplings to public organizations and municipalities, including saplings for agriculture and bee grazing.
  • Preparation during the Shmita year for planting in the following year are undertaken at sites that have been specifically permitted by the Rabbinate.
Visiting German Airforce contingent plants trees in containers, instead of in the ground. Photo: Dennis Zinn

Treatment of Existent Trees in Forests

Work undertaken for the preservation and upkeep of existent forests will continue, including pest and disease control as well as fire prevention measures.

Sapling Production at the Nurseries

Saplings will be prepared (seeding, moving, potting) on special soil-free substrates that are disconnected from the ground, under shading providing at least 51% cover.

In lieu of Tu Bishvat plantings, schoolchildren will be able to take part in preparing the saplings, as specified above.

Olive Harvesting in Lands Administered by KKL-JNF

Olive picking in the autumn of 5782 is permitted without any prohibition according to Jewish law (since they ripened in the previous year)

The olive harvest in autumn of the following year 5783 will be carried out in accordance with detailed instructions from the Rabbinate.

Olive groves growing on ancient terraces in Sataf, near Jerusalem. KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Relocating Trees (in KKL-JNF’s function as per the Forest Ordinance)

The relocation of trees will be permitted only for the preservation of trees that require removal for projects that cannot be postponed, such as construction, development, road paving and security projects.

The uprooting and transplant of trees will be carried out according to Shmita guidelines and with advanced approval from the Rabbinate.

Fruit Tree Orchards on KKL-JNF Lands

Minimal work for maintenance and sanitation will be carried out in olive, carob and other fruit tree groves in KKL-JNF sites, such as removal of broken, diseased and\or infested branches. In the carob orchards, the harvest of 5782 is considered to be the produce of the previous year (the sixth year in the seven-year cycle), and pruning broken branches is permitted following the harvest.

KKL-JNF Nurseries in Golani, Eshtaol and Gilat

KKL-JNF has prepared its nurseries for the Shmita years in accordance with instructions from the Chief Rabbinate. Preparations include the laying of the detatched growing substrate, installation of shading that provides at least 51% cover, ensuring that all containers are fully sealed from the ground, checking the condition of sprouting tray transportation wagons, setting the computerized irrigation systems to prevent manual irrigation, and other tasks.

Trees growing on raised platforms detached from the ground. Photo: Bonnie Scheinman

Israel's Southern Region

In the southern region there are delimited areas for soil preservation where preparations for tree planting and transplanting will be carried out in places accorded a sales dispensation by the Chief Rabbinate.

Life-saving security trees along the roads and around the border communities of the Gaza envelope will continue to be planted.