Leket Israel: The Ultimate Fusion of Biblical Morality and Israeli Innovation

June 3, 2018

4 min read

There is perhaps no better example of the fusion between ancient and modern than the work done by Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank.

Leket Israel successfully combines the best of Israel’s modern and innovative industries with the nation of Israel’s most treasured Biblical traditions.

Founded in 2003, Leket Israel is the country’s leading food rescue organization. It focuses on rescuing healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need. In 2017, Leket Israel collected and redistributed more than 14,000 tons of produce directly from fields, and more than 2.2 million cooked meals that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Leket Israel’s name comes from the Book of Ruth. In English, leket means to glean. This verb is used to describe Ruth’s activities in Boaz’s fields; “She came and gleaned in a field, behind the reapers” (Ruth 2:3).

Not only is Leket Israel’s name Biblical, its operations are inspired by the Biblical instructions regarding the cultivation of the Land of Israel.

The Book of Leviticus instructs the Children of Israel regarding cultivation of the land.

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I Hashem am your God” (Leviticus 23:22).

The above verse is situated in the middle of the Bible chapter that discusses the laws of the pilgrimage festivals. In ancient times, these festivals were the pinnacle of joy and national celebration. Including the ordinance to provide for the poor and the stranger, Biblical scholars understand this chapter to serve as a reminder not to forget Israel’s destitute during times of national prosperity and celebration.

This year, Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its re-birth. During this time of unparalleled joy and excitement, it is vital to remember those within our society whose success and happiness is stunted by lack of food and other basic necessities.


Leket Israel has received support from the Israeli as well as the international Jewish communities for years. But support for Leket Israel does not come exclusively from Jewish communities. In the past number of years, Evangelical Christians have started transforming their love for Israel into action and their spiritual support for Israel into tangible results.

Raymond McDonald, Leket Israel’s Director of Christian Relations, commented on the relevance of the Bible and in the year 2018.

“Evangelical Christians are motivated by the words of the Bible,” he said. “They want to be part of Israel’s unfolding story.”

McDonald said Leket Israel tries to keep its overhead expenses at a minimum to ensure that the donations collected wind up in the hands of those who need help the most. He said these expenses currently account for only around 4 percent of all incoming donations and are used for the purchase of trucks, fuel, drivers’ salaries, warehouses and operating the distribution centers scattered across the country.

In addition, for every $1 that Leket Israel receives in donations, the organization is able to distribute approximately $4 worth of food to needs Israelis.

“One amazing part of the work we do is multiplying small resources to feed a large amount of people,” said McDonald.

Once the surplus food has been collected from fields and from various other institutions, it is delivered to any one of hundreds of non-profit organizations that feed Israel’s hungry. The extensive list of non-profit organizations that partner with Leket Israel includes homeless shelters, soup kitchens, elderly centers, battered women’s centers and schools for at-risk youth.

This intricate network of farmers, food producers, truck drivers, and non-profit organizations has been carefully crafted by Leket Israel to be the safest, most effective and efficient distribution of food to those who need it most.

In a modern adaptation of the Ruth and Boaz narrative, Leket Israel focuses not just on what they are doing, but how they are doing it.  

“In the Bible, Boaz instructs his farmers to purposely leave behind stalks of barley during the harvest as to not embarrass Ruth and to ease her burden while gleaning,” said McDonald. “Leket Israel mirrors this ethical code by feeding Israel’s hungry with dignity and respect.”.

“Getting involved with Leket Israel is a great way to get connected to the Land and the People of Israel and to be a part of the amazing story of Israel,” McDonald continued. “I always say there are many ways to write yourself into Israel’s history. Pray for Israel, volunteer in israel, visit Israel, and give to Israel.”

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