As the loveliness of spring surrounds us and we enjoy a festive stretch of national holidays, there are certain things we can count on: no more rain, lots of blue and white, and families gathering outside to eat, drink and celebrate.Unfortunately, this time of year also brings with it the upsurge of another constant: garbage. The more time people spend outdoors, the more refuse they leave behind. Dirty plates, empty cups and bottles, crumpled snack bags, assorted food remnants, even diapers. Our beautiful green spaces offer themselves up for our enjoyment and are left gracelessly afterward like an exhausted hostess with a sinkful of dishes.Most public areas have an ample number of trash cans. Recycling cages for plastic bottles and those green “frog” containers, which here in Jerusalem are being replaced with underground receptacles, are nearly ubiquitous. Yet many locals see fit to leave their discarded miscellany in bushes, on benches, and even (have you seen this too?) right atop children’s playground equipment. And then there is the obstacle course of canine waste that too many dog owners fail to dispose of as basic civility – and the law – require.This profusion of litter sullies the landscape, attracts flies, ants, cats and other creatures, and creates unhygienic conditions. What’s worse, it sets a poor example for our children. If adults can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves, why should kids act any differently? As a new Israeli, what not only rankles but also saddens me about this phenomenon is that it showcases a lack of respect for this most special country. The Holy Land, the Promised Land, the Land of Our Fathers – whatever you call it, this awe-inspiring place, which invokes more blood, sweat and tears than any other country on earth, should be treated with love and tenderness, not apathy and neglect.Before I made aliya, I used to lament the build-up of rubbish on the playgrounds and streets of our New York City neighborhood. I tried to teach my children what to do and not do with their cast-offs. I would even occasionally, to my husband’s chagrin, pick (unsoiled) items off the ground and drop them in the trash. Litter in New York was an eyesore, an annoyance, the sign of a lazy culture.Now, living in Jerusalem, I find the same type of detritus almost morally offensive. My blood boils when we visit one of our local parks and inevitably find trash strewn around like the aftermath of a typhoon. I feel immeasurably fortunate to be living here and raising my children as proud Jews in our eternal homeland.Against that backdrop, the proliferation of litter seems exceedingly disrespectful. Recently, I called the Jerusalem municipal hotline for the first time. The purpose of my call was to report the buildup of garbage in the playground adjacent to our building. It was midway through Passover, and the signs of Israelis on vacation were, unfortunately, all over the place. Remarkably, when we returned on the following Shabbat, the park had been cleaned – the overflowing trash bins emptied, most of the litter on the ground removed. Score one for the system.Jerusalem just announced a NIS 13 million annual cleanup program, meaning more sanitation workers and garbage pickups. This is very welcome news, but even more important than how well-funded the sanitation department is, or how responsive the municipality is to civilian complaints, is how Israel’s citizens treat their shared public spaces. Cleanliness, the saying goes, is next to godliness, and we in Israel – and the holy city of Jerusalem in particular – are as close to God’s presence as one can possibly get on this Earth.Everyone, regardless of his or her religious orientation or background, should have enough pride in this country as well as concern for each other to want to keep it clean.As we head outside to savor the season and celebrate our miraculous return to Zion, let’s take care not to trash the place.The writer made aliya with her family in 2015. She is a freelance writer and editor and a busy mom, and has previously worked as a court attorney and magazine editor.