Here in Ramat Beit Shemesh, there aren’t too many other farmers.
I guess you could say that my farming passion sets me apart from my lovely neighbors, who think that bees are scary, manure is gross, and potatoes grow on trees.
The fact that I think so differently used to bother me greatly in my younger years but now I don’t mind it as much. Sometimes it’s still a bit alienating.
A couple of years ago, the famous writer Gila Manolson asked if I’d be interviewed for her book about what it’s like to be “out of the box” in the Orthodox Jewish world.
My interview has become part of her new book “Finding Ourselves in the Crowd: What 18 Out-of-the-Box Jews Can Teach Us About Individuality in Orthodoxy”
There are a bunch of other interesting people featured there – most of them very different from me in so many ways, but that’s the point, right? It’s refreshing.
In my interview, I talk honestly about what it’s like to be passionate about something that most your neighbors are indifferent to. I talk about the underlying spiritual philosophy behind my my green adventures. I also describe the moment in my life journey where I started to move towards becoming Charedi (I grew up Modern Orthodox).
Spoiler: it was not in a Torah class. There was no rabbi present. It did involve a meaningful encounter with the stars on a university campus in Thailand.
It was nerve-wracking to read what I wrote in the book but I’m proud of it and I hope a lot of other “undercover individuals” get inspired.
My name is Naomi and this is my tiny little farm in the heart of the rapidly growing city of Beit Shemesh, Israel. I enjoy growing, making and processing as much of my family's food and household essentials as possible, while nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem filled with beauty and life.