Jews: Shemittah & Sham

At the Tel Aviv office of Israel's Chief Rabbi Isser Unterman, twelve black-coated rabbis solemnly recited their afternoon prayers and then sold several thousand acres of Israeli farm land to a smiling Arab sheik in return for his promissory note for 500,000 Israeli pounds. In exchange for a deposit of $17 down, the rabbis handed over legal ownership of the property to Abdullah Abu Kishek, then toasted the transaction with soda pop.

Madness? Millennium?

Neither. The deed of sale is a ritual that the rabbis carry out every seventh year on behalf of Orthodox Jewish farmers who intend to observe Shemittah, the...

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