Fun Facts About Olive Oil, Israel & the Jewish People
The source for an olive branch representing peace is the Bible. Guess where? You got it. After the flood, the dove brought Noah an olive branch symbolizing that the Lord’s anger had been calmed and He would never bring a global flood again upon mankind.
In the Torah and Talmud, spiritual purity is usually represented through the use of olive oil. This is why it was used to anoint kings, the High Priest and the utensils of the Holy Temple.
Olive oil is spiritually so pure that the Jewish blessing over the oil, were it to be drunk like a regular liquid, is not the blessing for liquids, but rather is the blessing for the fruit of the tree. This is because olive oil is considered an actual part of the fruit, not a liquid derived from the fruit.
Olives are one of the seven agricultural products mentioned in the Bible as native to the Land of Israel. The others are wheat, barley, figs, pomegranates, dates (honey), and grapes.
Pits from ancient trees have been found in Israel from as far back as 6,000 years ago, and olive orchards that are hundreds of years old still grow and continue to thrive here.
The olive tree represents solid, strong, deep-rooted stability, and the capacity to flourish under challenging conditions. That is the reason that the olive branch is featured as part of the official seal of the State of Israel and why it is included on the emblems of some divisions of the Israel Defense Forces. Similarly, the olive branch symbolizes the continued ancient connection of the Jewish people to the Land.
Approximately 16,000 tons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is produced in Israel every year using about 81,000 acres of land. Interestingly, most of the olive oil Israel produces is enjoyed domestically. Only around 1,000 tons is exported, primarily to the USA.
A one-liter bottle (about a quart) of olive oil contains the oil from four to six kilograms (about 9 to13 lbs) of olives, equal to about 1,000 individual fruits, and as a nation, Israelis consume about 2.5 kilograms (5.5 lbs) of extra-virgin oil per person per year.