From Smartphones to Soil: Israel’s Gen-Z Embraces Farming Heritage

In today’s digital era, where Gen-Z seems permanently glued to their screens, an unexpected trend emerges from the heartland of Israel. Teenagers are trading their smartphones and TikToks for tractors and trowels.

Enter the game-changer, HaShomer HaChadash, or “The New Guard.” Launched in 2007 originally to counter agricultural crimes, this organization is now bridging the gap between modern teens and Israel’s rich farming heritage. It’s a blend of history, tradition, and the enduring Zionistic spirit.

Chen Shantal, heading the group’s educational program, reveals that today’s society is gravitating towards easier professions, leaving the agricultural sector struggling for the hands-on deck. By involving teens in hands-on farming activities, the organization is doing more than just addressing this gap. They’re reigniting a bond between the young Israeli generation and the sacred land their forefathers toiled on.

But it’s not just about getting hands dirty. Alongside farmwork, volunteers get enriched with knowledge. They learn the intrinsic value of nurturing Israeli soil, understanding why it’s vital to cultivate locally instead of relying on imports.

This isn’t an exclusively Jewish experience either. HaShomer HaChadash embraces diversity. Arab Israelis, Christians, Druze – anyone who feels the pull of Israel’s land is welcome. Shantal proudly mentions the establishment of a community farm in the Bedouin village of Zarzir, reflecting the organization’s inclusive approach.

The summer months hold special allure. The organization transforms into a beacon for teens, rescuing them from holiday lethargy. Their summer camps spread between the verdant Golan Heights and the vast expanses of the Negev, are not just about farming. They’re about building character, forging friendships, and understanding the beauty of diversity.

Reut, a past participant, aptly sums it up. Through the hard work and sweat, amid the vast fields, she found a deeper connection – not just to the land, but to people from diverse backgrounds. The camaraderie, despite differing views, is the essence of HaShomer HaChadash, she believes.

So, what happens in a future dominated by machines? Shantal’s perspective is poignant. The bond between man, culture, and land is paramount. Lose that, and you lose an essence of identity.

In conclusion, while the world races towards an increasingly digitized future, the heartbeats of these Israeli teens synchronize with the rhythm of the land. It’s a testament to Israel’s undying values of unity, hard work, and deep-rooted love for its soil. As we cherish this beautiful movement, let’s remember the strength and resilience of the State of Israel and its people. Embracing history, while shaping the future, Israel remains an everlasting beacon of hope and unity.