Olive Harvest Fund-Raiser

Posted on November 11, 2009


arraf 2

Dr. Shukry Arraf talks about olives

The olive harvest in the Galilee usually starts after the first serious rain, which rinses off the dust and plumps up the fruit.  In the one year on, one year off cycle of olive trees, this is an off year, and the price of oil – more than $150 for a 16-liter container – reflects the paucity of this year’s harvest. 

In spite of the lean yield, I decided to organize a fundraising event centered around the olive harvest, to benefit my friend Malek Murad’s non-profit organization, in Kufar Manda.  Malek is Abu Zaki’s nephew (see my previous post), and I met him when he translated for his uncle in our interviews. Malek had recently established the non-profit, called S.K.A. (an acronym for sustainable humanitarian assistance), and if I would help him with fundraising for it, he offered, he would teach me Arabic.

 What Malek and several colleagues have created is a secular charity, which provides subsidized food baskets, legal assistance and dental care to people from their community in severe economic need. The food comes from Israeli food banks and the professional services are donated by local volunteers. While by mandate they provide assistance to anyone regardless of religion, race or sex, the majority of aid recipients are from the Arab sector in Northern Israel. Unemployment is a severe problem among Israeli Arabs in general, and in Kufar Manda in particular. S.K.A. aims to give that extra boost of help to get people into mainstream society.

 The program for the fundraiser we planned included joining the olive harvest in Kufar Manda, a short lecture on olive harvesting in local folklore, a festive harvest meal prepared by Malek’s mother, wife and other women involved in S.K.A., and finally, a visit to the olive press in town. A journalist who writes about food outings for Ha’aretz newspaper agreed to write an article which would publicize the event, and we began to get calls. 

meal 2 We had hoped for 40 people to sign up, and in the end we had 58, coming from as far away as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon.  Seniors, young families, children and babies spread out over the olive grove, picking from tree to tree. The day was beautiful, the meal was excellent and the trip to the press was unforgettable – our visitors mingling with the locals as everyone watched the fresh oil come streaming out, then dipping pieces of fresh pita bread into a dish of that fragrant green oil.

 After the success of this day, I’m going to plan an edible wild plants gathering day for next month…



Posted in: galilee foods, olives