(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Olive farmers from the Ahiya farm in the West Bank settlement of Shilo, together with students from the Alma Preparatory School in Jerusalem, gathered at the President’s Residence for the annual olive harvest. Ahiya specializes in olive oil and wine, and grows olives and grapes on 11 dunams (2.75 acres) of land, producing some 3,000 tons of olives each year, from which they make high quality olive oil.
For them, said representative Tomer Weiss, nothing is more symbolic of the land of Israel than olive oil, because the olive branch is one of the symbols of the state.
The Ahiya people brought a huge quantity of olives with them. When President Reuven Rivlin and his wife came out to greet the olive pickers, the president said that he was very excited by the fact that picking olives in the presidential compound had become a tradition, because it is linked to the agricultural character of the country and to the Land of Israel.
Rivlin admitted that, as a Jerusalemite, he wasn’t really into olive picking. His wife, Nechama, who was born on Moshav Herut and has a strong affinity with agriculture, is better equipped, he admitted. He also didn’t think that a suit and tie were appropriate for picking olives. However, he did make one major concession to agriculture, saying that when he was in the Knesset, he was part of the agriculture lobby.
Nechama Rivlin said that the idea of having an olive tree at the president’s residence was initiated by Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, and his wife, Rachel, long before the present residence was built. Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi ran a farm school in Jerusalem to teach agriculture to girls.