To celebrate the harvest festival of Shavuot – one of three pilgrim festivals
during which ancient Israelites would bring offerings to the Temple – farmers
will bring a first fruit offering to the president of the State.
year, farmers from a different part of the country come to Jerusalem bearing not
only the seven biblical species of olives, pomegranates, grapes, figs, wheat,
barley and dates, but also many other fruits and vegetables, including new
strains that are exported to foreign markets.
This year it was the
Megilot Regional Council’s turn, which brought not only its edible first fruits,
but also its human ones.
Council chairman Motti Dahaman, one of the
founders of Kibbutz Kfar Shalom, told President Shimon Peres that in recent
years there has been a 20 percent population increase in the area, with many
young couples and young families opting to live in the region.
have a whole new generation of desert population,” he said, indicating some of
the parents who had come with babies in their arms in addition to the group of
whiteclad kindergarten children with garlands in their hair. It is customary to
wear white on Shavuot – the anniversary of the giving of the Torah – because it
It is also customary to eat dairy products, not
necessarily because milk, cream and cream cheese are white, but because the
gematria – numerical value – of chalav, the Hebrew word for milk, is 40, which
is the number of days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai before receiving the
Dahaman also told Peres that 40% of the region’s income comes from
farming and another 40% from tourism. The region is particularly famous for its
dates which are in high demand abroad. Over the past year some two million
visitors came to vacation or explore the region, he said.
Peres told the
kindergartners how much he enjoyed their singing and dancing and the gifts that
they had brought him.
“But the most important gifts you brought were
yourselves,” he said, adding that all the children present were the products of
wonderful pioneering families “who took one of the most difficult places in the
world and turned it into something magic.”
Peres told the youngsters that
they were welcome to come to the residence at any time they wanted in the
Dahaman told Peres that a poem the president has written once
about Kalya, one of the most beautiful sections of the region, “has always been
an inspiration to us.”