Written and compiled by former Shmita Project Manager Yigal Deutscher, with the support of Anna Hanau and Nigel Savage, The Shmita Sourcebook is designed to encourage participants to think critically about the Shmita Cycle – its values, challenges, and opportunities – and how this tradition might be applied in a modern context to support building healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities today.The Shmita Sourcebook is a 120-page sourcebook that draws on a range of texts from within Jewish tradition and time, tracing the development and evolution of Shmita from biblical, historical, rabbinic, and contemporary perspectives.

The Shmita Sourcebook is designed to be accessible to people with little Jewish background, as well as rigorous and challenging for someone with more extensive Jewish learning. Our intention for the sourcebook is to offer an educational background so we can collectively be exploring the possibilities of Shmita together. We do hope this will serve in establishing a shared, common ground. From this place, we can continue the work, expanding upon our own curiosities and understanding of Shmita, and creatively apply the values of this tradition to our own lives in all the diverse ways that are possible. We hope you enjoy the sourcebook, and it finds good use in your hands, and in your community.

purchase a print copy of the shmita sourcebook

download a PDF of the shmita sourcebook

The Shmita Sourcebook can be used in a myriad of ways, across all types of educational settings:

  • Shabbat dinner
  • Adult education classes & seminars
  • Weekend retreats & conferences
  • Gathering of friends and family

Contents of the Shmita Sourcebook by Chapter – click chapter titles below for summaries

Biblical Foundations: Shmita in the Torah
Recalling Ancient Memory: Shmita in Early Israel & Temple Periods
Codifying the Sabbatical (Part 1): Sabbatical Food Systems
Codifying the Sabbatical (Part 2): Sabbatical Economic Systems
Rabbinic Voices & Visioning of Shmita: From Exile to Return
Back to the Land: Shmita in Israel, From Early Pioneers to Modern Times
Reclaiming the Sabbatical Tradition: Exploring Shmita Today
An Incentive for Shmita Today? Agricultural & Economic Perspectives

Appendix A: Shmita Foods: Perennial & Wild Harvests
Appendix B: Shmita Economics: G’machs & Interest Free Loans
Appendix C: Applied Shmita: For Communities & Organizations

Quotations from biblical sources are from “Five Books of Moses” translation by Everett Fox © 1995 by Schocken Books
Quotations from Maimonides are from ”Mishneh Torah” translation by Eliyahu Touger © 2005 by Moznaim Publishing