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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dead Sea’

German Grandmother Celebrates 104th Birthday by Dead Sea

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

German tourist, Eleonore Kastner, affectionately known as Oma Ella, celebrated her 104th birthday in a Dead Sea hotel with 40 friends and family who traveled with her to Israel for the special event.

Since she turned 100 four years ago, Oma Ella had decided that the time had come to “live a little.” She has been celebrating her birthday each year in a different corner of the world together with her family. For her 100th birthday, Kastner celebrated at the Vatican.

During the following years, she marked 101 in Monaco, 102 in Austria and 103 in Munich.

Kastner, a devout Christian, has visited and prayed at Christian holy sites in the Holy Land, even traveling on a donkey to reach an isolated monastery in the Judean desert.

Kastner, who was born in 1910 in Kelheim, Germany, has accomplished some ground-breaking feats in her older age. She is thought to be the oldest person to tour the Himalayas and meet with the Queen of Bhutan, and is the oldest member of the Eurovision Club that travels to every song competition.

In addition, the German grandmother is considered to be the oldest person to have a Facebook page which she has already updated since arriving in Israel with a video greeting. She also appears in YouTube videos celebrating with youth at beer festivals in Germany, enjoying fairground rides and dancing to contemporary music.

And her secret for longevity? “Be healthy and enjoy a sweet schnapps every day!” is Kastner’s motto.

After she married in 1932, Kastner moved to Amberg, Bavaria where she raised four children, only one of whom is still alive. Her elder brother, who was born in 1906, was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1943 after resisting the Nazi occupation.

During her visit to Israel, the Tourism Ministry presented Kastner with a birthday present: a silver-bound Bible along with a certificate of appreciation, nominating her as an ambassador of good will for tourism to Israel.

Another Deluge of Rain on the Way but No Snow Except on Hermon

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

The second storm of the young winter is headed for Israel with more needed rain but no snow, except on the Hermon mountain.

Forecasters predict that it will rain on Eilat, an event that usually occurs only two or three times a year, and that up to three inches of rain will fall in the north and central regions.

Flash floods are predicted in the Arava and Dead Sea areas, which may receive an unusually large quantity of rain, possibly an inch.

The rain will follow deceivingly warmer than usual weather on Friday and will begin falling with the temperature Saturday afternoon, with the full force of the storm coming on Sunday and early Monday before weakening. No rain is forecast next week after Tuesday and temperatures will rise.

The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) now lacks 2.49 meters (slightly more than 8 feet) before reaching the level where the Degania dam must be opened to prevent flooding in the beachside city of Tiberias. Opening the dam also will bring much needed water to the Dead Sea via the Jordan River.

There has  been no need to open the dam for 21 years.

Dead Sea Works Sends 100 Tons of Salt to Jerusalem

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

In an effort to help reopen the roads in and around Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Works sent 100 tons of Dead Sea salt to Jerusalem yesterday, to spread on the roads, according to a report in The Marker.

No word yet on whether they included a complementary package of Dead Sea mud, or Ahava skin cream in their care package.

But, at least someone is thinking.

Is Israel Hiding Water for Fat Cats’ Red-Dead Sea Pipeline?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Politicians were falling all over themselves Monday to celebrate the signing in Washington of the agreement for what once was a pipe dream of a pipeline to pump water from the Red Sea to the Dead Seam, with the New Age of Peace involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a historic measure, which realizes a dream of many years. We have here politically important strategic cooperation between that Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority,” said Minister National Infrastructures Silvan Shalom.

The first phase of the mammoth project will include a desalination plant in Aqaba and will pipe water into the Dead Sea, the lowest point of earth and which has gone lower every year to the point that there are real fears it will disappear altogether one day.

The idea sounds great, and if it comes off without a hitch, it definitely will change the face of the southern Negev and Arava regions and the Jordan Valley, on both sides of the Jordan River.

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel all are holding hands together in a project that is supposed to show that the need for water can overcome politics and distrust.

The agreement for what is officially known as the Two Seas Project was signed in Washington by Shalom and Jordanian and Palestinian Authority water officials. The ceremony took place at the World Bank, which is raising up to $400 million from donor countries and philanthropists.

The entire bill for a much larger Dead-Red conveyance project is around $10 billion.

This is the same World Bank that helped finance and engineer Israel’s turning over agricultural infrastructure and greenhouses in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority regime in 2005, after the expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of the IDF.

That boondoggle does not mean that the World Bank is always right, but it certainly means it is not always right. It is more interested in politics than economics, and good politics today means creating facts on the ground for the Great Middle East Peace.

In five years, water is supposed to start flowing into the Dead Sea, but the proposed amount is only a fraction of what the Dead Sea loses every year because evaporation and industrial use, such as the Dead Sea Works.

The project will give Jordan much needed water resources. Israel has agreed to pump more water from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, which is Ramallah’s take for agreeing to forfeit claims that the northern part of the Dead Sea is to be under its sovereignty in its version of a Palestinian country.

So what could be wrong with such a project that increases the water supply and brings back the Dead Sea from levels that could endanger the environment?

Politically, like everything else in the Middle East, it is a gamble. Jordan is on the threshold of an explosion. “Palestinians” and Bedouin make up the bulk of the population but are least represented in the government. The Palestinian Authority still is a country on paper, most of it being the Euros on which it survives.

Financially, the project puts a tremendous burden on the world, but who cares so long as the new corporate universe needs these investments to feed their money machines.

The military-industry complex has sold trillions of dollars in weapons everywhere except Antarctica. Russian and China don’t care whether Iran gets a nuclear bomb so long as they can feed their appetite for billions of dollars by helping the Islamic Republic build nuclear facilities.

And now we have this new project to pump money into the engineering and construction firms who stand to make a bundle.

Environmentally, the project’s expert claim they have the knowledge and resources to overcome fears that pumping large quantities of Red Sea water into the Dead Sea could damage the Dead Sea’s fragile ecology. As sure as the World Bank is that the project will not upset ecology, the Friends of the Dead Sea are just as sure that the pipeline will destroy the environment

Let’s assume that the World Bank experts are right, which is a hefty assumption in an age where experts can prove anything they want.

The whole project may be unnecessary given that Israel’s own desalination plants will produce so much water that the Kinneret would reach flood levels every year, allowing the dam at the Kinneret to be opened to spill water into the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea.

The Kinneret right now is about 2.6 meters, or 102 inches, below flood level and when the Degania dam would be opened. The lake usually rises more than that amount in a normal year.

It could rise even more because Israel has brought online three desalination plants and is building two more that can supply Israel with almost 70 percent of its water needs.

But the Water Authority has made an amazing decision. It plans to scale back production of desalinated water by 100 million cubic meters, the same amount that will be able to be produced at the facility under construction at Ashdod.

Globes pointed out last month that the government pays for overhead at the desalination plants and also pays for water that it does not buy, as per the contract. The bottom line is that the Water Authority will shell out 60 percent of the cost of water for fixed costs without receiving any water.

And what happens if there are a couple of dry years? Then the Water Authority will start pushing the desalination plants to work overtime while the level of the Dead Sea continues to drop.

Even worse, the Water Authority admitted to Globes, “Even if the plants don’t work at full capacity in the coming year, we will soon definitely need their output. Our models predict an even worse drought than the one before 2011 at the end of the decade. In addition, the Kinneret and aquifers still lack one billion cubic meters of water. The Israeli economy has a structural water shortage, and one rainy year does create a new reality.”

So why is it cutting back production?

Could it possibly be that the Water Authority does not want to open the dam at the Kinneret because doing so would help replenish the Dead Sea, and then how could the Red-Dead Seas project be justified?

Bringing back the Dead Sea to previous levels might not be possible, but it will be at least five years before the Dead-Red pipeline comes on line, and that assumes no political, financial and environmental delays. In the meantime, maximum production at the desalination plants would allow overflow from the Kinneret to add at least the same amount that is projected to come from the Red-Dead pipeline, and probably more in a rainy year, as is predicted this year.

The Water Authority’s reasoning for increasing pumping from the Kinneret instead of using desalinated water, and thus preventing the dam from being opened, is that “it is cheaper to pump water from natural sources than to buy water from the desalination plant at the full rate.”

The Water Authority made a fantastic Orwellian Double Speak statement to Globes. “There is no water surplus,” it said. “There is water production capacity for guaranteeing a reliable water supply, even during droughts. The Israeli government prepared for this in part by building seawater desalination plants, which supply water on the basis of need and the condition of the water economy. During droughts, when natural water supplies fall, we’ll need maximum production by the desalination plants, because the water demand does not change. In years with heavy rain, we have to deduce desalinated water production, because the variable cost is higher than the cost of natural water production.”

The Water Authority is ”saving” money by paying out most of the cost of desalinated water without using it, and it is lessening the need for the dam to be opened, which in turn deprives Jordan of water resources and deprives the Dead Sea of much needed water.

There is no water surplus because the Water Authority is preventing one.

Binyamin (Kerry) Netanyahu Freezes New Homes for Maaleh Adumim

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered Housing Minster Uri Ariel to cancel plans for 1,200 housing units that could accommodate thousands of people in the “E-1” area of the city of Maaleh Adumim, located 10 minutes east of Jerusalem and overlooking the Dead Sea.

The cancellation was ordered shortly after the Haaretz newspaper reported that the Housing Ministry has hired an architect to plan construction of residential units for a reported 20,000 people in Maaleh Adumim and in smaller communities in Judea and Samaria. The cancellation affects only E-1 and not other areas.

The Office of the Prime Minister was unusually honest, although inaccurate, in explaining the order to Ariel, a leading Jewish Home minister.

“There is no need to pay international prices for a process that does not have great significance,” it told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper.”

Not of “great significance?” Apparently, the Prime Minister’s office was being sarcastic. More probable, it was being cynical.

E-1 has become a flashing red line for the Palestinian Authority. Building Jewish homes in E-1 would guarantee that the Palestinian Authority would not endanger Israeli security with a contiguous land mass from eastern Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria.

Constant reports that E-1 would “cut off” the Palestinian Authority are patent lies because highways connect Arab villages and cities in all directions.

It has been a political ping-pong ball within Israel, with nationalists such as Ariel fighting tooth and nail for Israel to stand up and take a position that the mostly vacant 4.5 square mile area, which is part of the city of Maaleh Adumim, will be a home for Jews, sooner and not later.

Almost everyone except the Obama administration knows that it will happen. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas once upon a time may have had little hope that he could prevent E-1 from being developed, but the Obama administration has effectively become his spokesman and is dead set against its development.

The Bush administration gets the first “credit” for opposing construction in E-1 after President George W. Bush came out with his “Roadmap Plan,” which eventually fell off a cliff, a better result than the Oslo Accords that literally exploded in Israel’s collective face.

The saga of E-1 is a prime example of why Israel cannot depend on promises from the United States. President Ronald Reagan once wrote Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter that promised recognition of Israel’s right to build there. The promise was not a legal document, and its worth was only as long as Reagan was in office. The Obama adminstration has said it is not committed by the letter.

It was none other than Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, whose memory has been defaced into an image of Peace Now, who in 1994 provided Maaleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel with documents to make E-1 an official part of the city.

Nearly 30 years later, all that Israel has built on E-1 is a police station. The Arabs have woken up and have sent Bedouin families to dot the area so they can tell foreign and local reporters how they have been living on the land for centuries.

E-1 has been a toy, or pawn, for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

He has defied nationalists and has toed the line in Washington to keep the bulldozers out of the area.

True, after Abbas went to the United Nations last November to upgrade the PA’s status in the General Assembly to that of a non-member state, Netanyahu unleashed the E-1 pawn and announced plans to build 5,000 residential units there.

So much for hot air.

Not a single house has been built there. In fact, Netanyahu inflicted an unannounced building freeze on almost all of Judea and Samaria until last month, one hour after Israel freed the second batch of terrorists in the four-step program to release 104 murderers in return for the privilege of officially arguing with the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu’s policy on E-1 sounds like a broken record.

In January 2009, Netanyahu secretly promised President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Israel would not build in E-1, according to an Al Jazeera report in 2011.

Netanyahu, of course, denied the report, prompting Maaleh Adumim Mayor Kashriel to demand that the Prime Minister “order the defense minister to submit the master plan for the neighborhood immediately and progress with development on site, as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did during his tenure.”

Beauty is as Beauty Does; Saphira Products Promote Pure Israel

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

When she was in 10th grade, Saphira Tessler’s parents took her and her brother to Israel for her father’s sabbatical year. Saphira was not happy.  But within months, Tessler changed her mind — and she changed it so dramatically that her mother gave in and moved to Ranaana so that Saphira could complete 11th and 12th grade in Israel, the land which had become her home.

And that country is so important to Saphira, that by the time she graduated in 2012 from the InterDisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she had already married an Israeli and the two committed to starting a business in the Jewish State, one using not just Dead Sea minerals, but in which every single aspect of Saphira Hair is from Israel – from the bottles in which the products are poured, to the boxes in which they are shipped.  The design, production, materials, employees and packaging are all Israeli.

But simply showing support for the Jewish state is not all that Saphira Hair has going for it – Saphira and her husband Aviad Greenberg spent a year meeting with chemists and visiting factories to find the exact right combination of minerals that would work miracles for the hair that Dead Sea minerals do for the skin.

And beyond having a beautiful product with tasteful but glamorous packaging, the woman behind the soon-to-be empire gives meaning to the cliché “beautiful inside and out.” And she’s got talent to boot!

SAPHIRA’S STORY

Saphira and her older brother, Roniel, grew up in Potomac, Maryland, where their father has been the rabbi of Beth Sholom Synagogue for nearly 30 years.  Her mother, Aviva, co-founded and is the executive director of Operation Embrace, a non-profit which provides services to Israeli victims of terrorism.

Both Saphira’s parents are musical.  Her mother was an opera singer and her father thought he was going to become an actor on Broadway.  Instead, her father met up with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, formerly of New York City’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, who told Saphira’s father: “no, you’re going to become a rabbi.”

After receiving smicha from Rabbi Yosef B. Soleveichik, Rabbi Tessler later not only was the spiritual leader of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Potomac, but is also currently the president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship of the Rabbinical Council of America.

With music running in her veins, Saphira also was interested in singing.  She applied and was accepted to New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, but deferred for a year while she attended the Lindenbaum Seminary in Jerusalem.  Although Lindenbaum is a studious seminary, Saphira found the time to attend nightly rehearsals and starred in the musical “Rent” in Jerusalem.

By the time Saphira completed her seminary year, she realized she could not return to the States and instead enrolled at the InterDisciplinary Center, majoring in psychology.

While a student at the IDC, Saphira initiated an empowerment program for pre-adolescent girls at Elazraki, a school for disadvantaged children in Netanya.  She later took the same program, called “Strong Women, Strong Girls” to work with girls from privileged backgrounds in schools around Herzliya.

“The girls from privileged backgrounds needed it even more than did the ones who were ‘disadvantaged!’” Saphira told The Jewish Press in interview on Monday, Nov. 4.

Saphira was the president of the IDC’s Hillel, and one of her responsibilities was to run the Shabbat dinners. Some Israeli students who came to the dinners told their friend Aviad about Saphira, and they two finally met.

“I told him I would go out with him, but not to a coffeehouse, as he suggested,” Saphira said about her first date with Aviad. “I told him we had to go to a cabaret, because although I would only date a religious boy, it had to be a boy for whom women singing in public was acceptable.”

Aviad went to the cabaret, passed the “Saphira Test” and they were married in August, 2011.  The two took the money they received as wedding gifts, and invested it all in starting their hair care business.

BUT WHY DEAD SEA PRODUCTS FOR THE HAIR?

Saphira says she was always fascinated by the incredible benefits from the Dead Sea, and she began to wonder whether it would also work to make hair soft and beautiful, just as it does for the skin.  Aviad, whose father is in the hair care business, encouraged his new wife to explore the idea.

Official Winter Forecast Indicates Kinneret May Reach Flood Level

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Israel will enjoy average rainfall this winter, according to the Israel Meteorological Service, and there is a good chance that the dam  at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) will have to be opened up before summer because of the increasing use of desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea.

The Meteorological Service said its annual winter forecast has a margin of error of up to 25 percent but generally does not miss the mark more than 10 percent in either direction.

The sea has replaced the Kinneret as Israel’s largest source of water, not including the underground aquifer system that is being replenished thanks to the use of more desalinated water.

The Kinneret rose approximately 2.5 meters (8 feet) last winter, which brought average or slightly more than average rainfall in most regions.

As of Monday morning, the Kinneret was exactly 2.5 meters below the level at which the dams would have to be opened to prevent flooding in the beachside city of Tiberias and neighboring farms and tourist parks. If the forecast turns out to be accurate, the Kinneret will rise to near flood level this year.

Opening the dams would dump more water into the Jordan River, which feeds the Dead Sea that is in desperate need of more water.

In Israel, the prayer that cites God as the “rainmaker” began on Shemini Azereth-Simchat Torah, the day after Sukkot. The actually request for rain began two weeks ago, on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan in Israel. The prayer is not said until December 4 outside of Israel.

If rain does not fall within 30 days of the request, special prayers and fast days are held. From a climactic standpoint, Israel received its first rains a month ago during the Sukkot holiday, when a measurable amount of rain, although only 1 millimeter, was recorded in most of the country.

Most of the rain and snow in Israel usually falls in the months of December, January and February.

‘Dream Road’ from Gush Etzion to Dead Sea May Explode Peace Talks

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Palestinian Authority-Israeli “peace talks” might be short-lived following the unveiling on Tuesday of a new Gush Etzion-Dead Sea highway Tuesday that would destroy Palestinian Authority ambitions to include all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert in its planned future state.

While foreign and Israeli media reported that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas  has made it clear there is no room for compromise on PA territorial demands in the area, two Cabinet ministers senior Knesset Member Avigdor Liberman toured the proposed route of the new highway, with work slated to begin in only four months.

News of the new west-east road, which would revolutionize travel and the tourist industry, has barely been reported, but once the Palestinian Authority gets a hold of it, it undoubtedly will demand that there is no sense in talking unless Israel calls off the bulldozers and asphalt trucks.

“Israel will not be present between us and Jordan,” Abbas said in Jericho  this week. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently said that Israel will retain a presence in the Jordan Valley as a security measure.

Abbas on Sunday rejected an Israeli military presence, adding that he might consider an international force to back up PA security forces.

The planned $10 million highway makes mincemeat out of Abbas’ grand vision and could set off the fuse that would explode the PA-Israeli discussions that Palestinian Authority negotiators insist are going nowhere.

The route for the new road was unveiled during a tour of the area on Tuesday by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a strong Likud nationalist, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir of Yisrael Beiteinu , and Liberman, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction in the Likud party.

The highway would cut through “Area C,” determined by the Oslo Accords to be under Israeli control, and would carve through some of Israel’s most awesome natural areas.

Planners  claimed that the route was approved by environmental experts,  but any work that would scar the Judean Desert cliffs, parts of which are virgin area occupied only by wildlife, would meet a storm of protests from environmentalists.

The political story from the Palestinian Authority will be just as fierce, but comments by Israeli  officials touring the route Tuesday were full of enthusiasm and praise.

“I have been dreaming of this road for 20 years,” said Motti Dahaman, chairman of the Megillot Regional Council in the Dead Sea area north of Ein Gedi.

“This road is part of a vision or tourism and will connect Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea and Megillot with Jerusalem,”  He said. “The highway will make it easier form tourists form Bethlehem to come to the Dead Sea.” The highway if it can bridge the political divide, will cut travel time from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea to only 27 minutes. Today, the only way to reach the Dead Sea, except by four-wheel vehicles, is via Jerusalem to the north or  Arad to the south, with travel time of nearly 90 minutes.

Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Davidi Perl called the highway an “historic event” and added, “Today there are only two roads to the Dead Sea. The significance of this new highway is that it will bring the center of the country to the Dead Sea and encourage tourism there and in Gush Etzion and the Judean Desert.

The road would include the current Beit Shemesh-Gush Etzion route, which would be widened into a super highway, and it then would carve out a new path, over dirt roads, east of Efrat and then south east, bypassing virtually impassable cliffs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/dream-road-from-gush-etzion-to-dead-sea-may-explode-peace-talks/2013/09/17/

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