Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Harvesting love with a wheelchair-accessible winepress

Photo: LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible 
With Sukkot just a couple of days away, we share a glimpse into a special type of harvest in Israel. During the summer grape-gathering season there, being in a wheelchair is no obstacle to getting in on the fun of pressing grapes. That's thanks to a custom-built accessible winepress at Jewish National Fund partner site LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible, which offers educational outdoor activities for children and adults with special needs in Emek HaShalom, the Valley of Peace.

The press is wide enough for wheelchairs to enter, and ropes hang from the roof for those who may not need a wheelchair, but require extra support standing. Participants press the grapes with their bare feet or wheelchair wheels and the juice slides into a pit. It is then collected in a large bowl, boiled, and enjoyed by all.

 "Smadar's Wine Press" was built in 2001 in memory of Smadar Snir, a lecturer at the Oranim Academic College and a lover of nature who passed away after a difficult illness. Her family built the press themselves, covering its floor with mosaics and quotes from Jewish texts. They also planted a small vineyard next to the press, which is tended to by LOTEM staff and volunteers.

Some 20,000 children and adults have pressed grapes in Smadar's Wine Press over the years. To see more photos of the press in action, visit this Facebook photo album. And to help JNF continue to support the work of LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible, click here.

Photo: LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible

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