Chavi Eisenberg

Love and tomatoes

I have always looked back at ancient and modern Israeli history with a great sense of awe and envy for those heroes, big and small, who embodied the national spirit of can-do and volunteerism. In times of crisis, they jumped into action and became part of a something greater: the formation of and sustaining of our incredible country and people of Israel.

Yesterday I went to a moshav to help with the harvest; Israeli farmers are in crises since the foreign agricultural workers left due to the war – the produce is ripe for picking, and will spoil if not harvested. Many farmers are desperately seeking help.

My face dirty from a day in the field

So I joined some friends and 30 other random volunteers from all over the country hailing from Arad, Gush Etzion, Tel Aviv, Netanya and more. People from all walks of life came to help- construction workers, students, soldiers on break from reserves, hi-tech workers, lawyers, small business owners, and more.

Everyone came with a positive spirit and willingness to help, wanting to lighten the load of our national burden. After several hours in the field, the farm owners set out a delicious homemade meal. All of us, both the farmers and volunteers, felt the same intense love for our country, our people, the land, the food, the soldiers…a real sense of home.

In the trailer on the way to the field

Even though my body was aching from the morning of manual labor, I returned to the fields after lunch to resume harvesting with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. As I stretched my arms out again and again to pick the ripest and sweetest cherry tomatoes, I didn’t feel the aches and pains of my muscles. I felt the rush of emotion that a new mother feels after the hard work of labor, as she holds her newborn, exhausted, while oxytocin rushes through her veins and she falls in love with her baby; She doesn’t pay attention to the aches and pains as she marvels at the new person she brought into the world. So too, my body didn’t mind the aches and strain. As long as I had energy and breath, I was willing to continue. And it was exhilarating to feel like I’m taking a small part in our incredible national venture, to be part of something so much bigger than myself.

The truck full of picked tomatoes and volunteers balancing on buckets.

Today I know that I now have my own story to one day tell to my grandchildren, and that I too am part of that legacy of our people’s survival and resilience. And how I fell in love while picking tomatoes.

About the Author
Chavi Eisenberg is a tanach teacher, nonprofit consultant, actress, and mother. She runs parenting support groups and writes about parenting, Judaism, and Zionism. Chavi earned her MPA from Baruch College, and now lives in Gush Etzion with her family.
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