Upcoming 'shmita' year shakes up Jerusalem's budget

Money for road repair diverted for planting.

plants 88 (photo credit: )
plants 88
(photo credit: )
The upcoming shmita (sabbatical) year, which begins on Rosh Hashana, has caused Jerusalem Municipality officials to do some unusual improvising with the budget, officials said Sunday. As a result of the Biblical interdiction against cultivating farmland in the Land of Israel during the shmita year, the city budget for road repair, which was due to be carried out in the coming months, has been allocated for planting before Rosh Hashana, Jerusalem Municipality spokesman Gidi Schmerling said. Later in the year, the city will pay for road repair with money from the budget for planting, since no cultivating will be done during the year, he said. The budget in question is NIS 3.4 million, the Jerusalem weekly Yerushalayim reported. According to Halacha, the shmita year, which occurs every seven years, will begin next moth on Rosh Hashanah, the two-day Jewish new year which gets under way on the evening of September 12. The municipality said Sunday it will plant perennial plants and flowers so that the capital's squares will not lay barren throughout the shmita year, as was the case in the past. Jerusalem's preparations for shmita come as Israel is preparing to import produce from the Gaza Strip. In past shmita years, Israel relied heavily on produce grown in the Palestinian territories, but has refrained from importing goods from Gaza since Hamas's takeover in June.