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How much would you pay for a 16-ounce pouch of dirt from Israel? Five hundred dollars? Fifty? No, no, silly. Try 20 bucks. That’s right. For only about twice the price of a one-pound bag of Starbucks’ Sumatran extra bold, you can now own a bag of “100% genuine Israeli Soil,” thanks to a company called Holy Land Earth.

The first shipment arrived in New York earlier this week amid, well, some fanfare: A guy in a tuxedo and white gloves carried the first packages off the ship on a silver tray. In the company’s mind, the soil’s arrival is history-making. “For the first time in recorded history, Holy Land Earth brings a small piece of Israel directly to you,” their website solemnly declares.

I checked up on the company, and here’s the dirt. Holy Land Earth is the brainchild of businessman Steven Friedman, and what separates his product from any other sacred soil you might find on the Internet is that his dirt, the company says, is USDA approved–meeting all U.S. import regulations. It also comes with the blessing of “recognized Jewish religious authorities.”

“Similar in spirit to the Kosher certification process,” the site says, “Holy Land Earth is certified genuine by Rabbi Velvel Brevda–the director of the Council of Geula, Jerusalem.” The rabbi “travels between Israel and America and oversees the entire collecting, importing, and packaging processes.”

But what might you do with your bag once it arrives? The company offers several suggestions.

  • Burial purposes: “For many people of Jewish (and other) descent, being laid to rest in the Holy Land is a wish that, while a popular sentiment, is difficult to fulfill. … Knowing that your loved one is buried with authentic Holy Land Earth is a powerful, uplifting, and peaceful emotion that is beyond compare. Holy Land Earth can be sprinkled on (or in) a casket,” the website adds, “and is packaged and priced so every family member can have one.”
  • New Home: “Whether utilized in groundbreaking, or sprinkled onto an existing lawn, you can use genuine soil from the Holy Land to help bestow luck and divine purity to your dwelling.”
  • Gardening: “Whether you use it on a vegetable garden, a houseplant, or to grow some flowers, Holy Land Earth brings the essence of the Holy Land to all living things. The soil is rich and fertile, and perfect for growing lush plants.”
  • Good Luck: “Whether sprinkled for a newly wedded couple to walk over or a pinch placed in the trunk of a car of a child heading off to college, Holy Land Earth can bring the spirit of the Holy Land to any circumstance you deem appropriate.”

    Ultimately your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with the dirt. “Get creative,” the company urges. “This is genuine soil from the Holy Land. Use it any way you wish.”

    Of course, those who really want to touch Israeli soil, and are able, could always hop a plane. As the Israel National News notes, “For the price of 25 pounds of the earth, a customer could buy a one-way ticket and have the whole country at his feet.”

  • –John D. Spalding, editor of SoMAreview.com

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