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A Life Uprooted, a Garden Planted: The Pain of Loss Transformed into Urban Sustainability

Jun 18, 2014

Leah Hefetz, a Jerusalem resident, stands in this photograph surrounded by young people who loved her son, Shuky, who died of unknown causes during his military service at the age of 20. In May 2014, the motley crew depicted revamped vegetable beds in the community garden, built a water-saving vertical gardening wall from recycled plastic bottles, constructed garden furniture from used packing crates, and planted summer crops. This work came as a much-needed boost for community garden / environmental education activists who, at the same site, labored hard to create raised beds from recycled wood, constructed a self-composting planter from reused industrial barrels, and created self-watering double-bucket planters.

Circles of influence: neighborhood children who work in the garden weekly will learn about sustainability through these innovations. Residents at the home for the elderly that backs on to the garden will poke out their heads to enjoy the sights, sometimes emerging to lend a hand themselves.

How did Shuky inspire all this? It boils down to love: Shuky loved his family, loved people of all stripes, and loved the land; his friends, in their grief, carry on his values. A hard worker of rare type, he rose early to help support this family during the period that his father, who passed away less than a year before his son, was unable to work. The diversity found among those who attended to his funeral (in age, variety of religious practice, and political affiliation) attest to his special touch. It is fitting that his passing should inspire biodiversity, restoration of urban land, and joy in the community, as well as comfort for his mother and sister, whose faces in the accompanying photo tell all.


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