Shmita Basket

Brianna Caplan Sayres

About Brianna Caplan Sayres

I am a children’s book author, editor and publisher. I am proud to be the founder of Intergalactic Afikoman, a new publisher of Jewish children’s books, and I am the author of many picture books including Asteroid Goldberg: Passover in Outer Space. I am currently hard at work writing and researching a book called Fighting Climate Change is a Mitzvah featuring inspiring young Jewish climate activists and the connections between their Judaism and their activism.While working on this book about Judaism and climate change, I have taken many courses regarding Judaism and the environment and Shmita. This Shmita basket project was particularly inspired by a wonderful course I took through Hebrew College with Rabbi Natan Margalit and Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife called “Shmitta: A Year of Letting Go” and the many other wonderful courses I have taken this year with incredible Jewish educators including the wonderful offerings brought to my community by Deirdre Gabbay and Shmita Project Northwest.I am so very inspired by all I have learned about Shmita and I am looking forward to co-teaching a class about Shmita for educators at NewCAJE this summer.

About Shmita Basket

My idea for a Shmita basket has evolved over several months. I have described my proposed ritual in the attached document. It is relevant to Shmita in many ways. The basket represents a field of fruit and vegetables, and we eat only a corner of it. The rest of it we give away. A year of letting go.It is also done with in-season fruits to increase our connection to the rhythms of the land.Please note: I am a writer and an educator, not an artist. I used grass from Michael’s to weave the sides of a basket. I taped each woven piece to the side of a box to give it structure and strength. (For practicality, I lined the box with a compostable liner.)For my in-season fruits and vegetables in June in the Pacific Northwest, I included strawberries, apricots and peapods. I attempted to give my basket the feel of an actual field with the grasses extending up all along the edges.The box I ended up using to structure my basket ended up being fortuitous. The Shavuot box that my mother had purchased from my son from Days United was the perfect size. I emptied it and saw that because it was for Shavuot, it had wonderful tractors with wheat printed inside. So very appropriate for a Shmita basket! My son and I were thrilled.As I said at the beginning, I am not an artist, and I think of my basket more as a prototype. But I am very excited about it. And had a wonderful time making it with my enthusiastic young son.I so look forward to using my Shmita basket to perform the ritual ceremony described in the attached document. And I definitely hope that other people will join me in doing this new ritual as well!