One of the oldest biblical crafts is olive oil production. Referred to as “liquid gold” by the ancient Greek poet Homer, the term alludes to the beautifying and enriching effects olive oil has on man’s physical appearance and health, not to mention the tasty enhancement it gives to food.
The Hebrew Bible mentions “oil” (in Hebrew shemen) no less than 192 times, with the majority of these cases specifically referring to olive oil. One of its many references relates to the use of olive oil for anointing people or objects. Through the process, the anointed become “kodesh”, or ritually holy. Examples include the use of olive oil for the consecration of the ancient high priests (Kohanim), as well as the articles of the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:26) and the use of persimmon oil for the coronation of the kings of Israel.
The messiah (in Hebrew mashiach) literally means “the anointed one – smeared with oil”. The rabbis explain that the mashiach will be anointed as King of Israel in the End of Days.
After thousands of years of exile, today the Jewish People are back in Israel producing olive oil, which is considered to be among the highest quality and purest in the world.
“Mention olive oil and most people will automatically think of Italy, Spain, Greece or Turkey,” explained Rabbi Shmuel Veffer to Breaking Israel News. Rabbi Veffer is co-founder, along with Nili Abrahams, of Galilee Green, an Israeli company producing premium boutique olive oil for worldwide distribution.
“However, Israeli olive oil is now generally far superior from other countries in that it is almost exclusively extra virgin,” added Abrahams. “Extra virgin olive oil’s taste is outstanding. In fact, Israel does not even have facilities to make a lower-grade olive oil.”
Extra virgin olive oil is regulated by Israeli law. It is made by gently pressing olives either the ancient way, through giant grinding stones, or the modern way, through stainless steel rollers. When no heat is applied during the pressing, the oil is termed “cold pressed” and retains its best flavor and highest nutrient value. It also has the lowest acidity, a critical factor in a high-quality oil.
While European olive oil producers maintain a long production schedule, even keeping harvested olives in storage for months before pressing, Israeli producers harvest and press the olives at a much faster rate.
“One of our secrets for the superior taste of Galilee Green olive oil is that we pick our olives and immediately send them to be pressed into oil the same day,” continued Rabbi Veffer. “This process, as well as our unique mixture of three different strains of olives, makes the flavor of our oil uniquely rich yet light.”
With olive trees growing in the Holy Land for thousands of years, today there are about 330,000 dunams or 81,000 acres, of olive orchards in the country. This produces nearly 16,000 tons of extra virgin olive oil annually. Yet most of this “liquid gold” is primarily for domestic use.
Both the Abrahams and Veffer families are originally from Toronto, Canada, and moved to Israel within the last seven years to Yavne’el, a small farming village in the Galilee. Rabbi Veffer was a leader in Jewish education and outreach for over 25 years as well as an inventor, computer scientist and serial entrepreneur. Nili Abrahams has an MBA and a background in business, marketing and nutrition. They both feel that Galilee Green olive oil is one of their most inspiring projects.
“We recognize the miraculous times that we are living in with the Land of Israel cultivating some of the highest quality produce in the world,” Rabbi Veffer shared with Breaking Israel News. “By sharing the blessings of our olive oil with people around the world, we hope they will come to appreciate that we are living in the times of Ezekiel’s prophecies being fulfilled. We feel so blessed to be part of this process and that so many special people around the world are joining us.”