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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

After Sandy, Volunteers Crisscross Manhattan to Help

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

In a nearly dark corner of lower Manhattan, in an area otherwise known as Tribeca, Rabbi Zalman Paris stands tall, cellular phone in hand, to answer another call from a young volunteer eager to offer assistance. Days after Hurricane Sandy left millions across New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey without electricity, food or water, there are plenty of people who want to help victims and their communities recover.

From his window, Paris, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Tribeca and SoHo, watched the storm hurl itself into the homes and lives of residents nearby. The storm prevented him from venturing outdoors, but the moment he was able to, the rabbi assembled a plan and a team to help his neighbors.

“Many organizations have joined us in our efforts to help those in need during this hard time,” he said.

Paris partnered with Rabbi Levi Shmotkin of Chabad Young Professionals, Ari Teman of JCorps, and Julie Menin, a candidate for Manhattan Borough President.

“We brought in a paramedic to aid the elderly, who with no way out of their buildings needed immediate medical attention,” Shmotkin relayed.

Menin detailed that she kept the 10,000 people on her contact list updated by email.

“People would email that they needed food, water, diapers and baby formula. I then sent an email blast to Rabbi Paris,” said Menin.

All told, more than 100 volunteers traversed lower Manhattan, crisscrossing the city’s streets to visit nearly 3,000 apartment units in one day alone.

One longtime JCorps volunteer named Jillian described her experience as “eye opening.” More than 100 volunteers assisted the Tribeca effort.

“Today we visited some housing developments of the lower east side to bring food and water to the elderly and disabled citizens who are without,” she said. “You really become thankful for what you do have during a time like this.”

With the Sabbath approaching, they are hoping that the electricity will be restored.

“We may not have power, but we will definitely be spending the Sabbath with the many people and volunteers who are here with us,” said Paris. “Although many fled the neighborhood prior to the storm, our focus was on those that didn’t have anywhere to go.”

Majestic Destroyer

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Reader Jonathan Kahanovitch sent us this amazing image of Ms. Liberty under a canopy of ominous clouds.

Destruction can be so pretty.

Hope you’re dry and safe and that you have electricity and Internet. Otherwise, we probably won’t be having this conversation.

Shabbat Shalom.

Israeli Innovation Could Make Water Drinkable in Africa

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In a world where freshwater resources are becoming increasingly scarce, Israel–a country that is two-thirds arid–has become a leader in developing the necessary technology for making salt water potable.

The Israeli desalination company, IDE Technologies, which has been in operation for more than 40 years, has made many advances in desalination technology, installing over 400 desalination plants in 40 countries including the Caribbean Islands and United States. IDE Technologies has also won major contracts with Cyprus, India and Australia, and last year with China.

Since 2011, the Israeli-built desalination plant in Tianjin is China’s largest and most environmentally friendly desalination plant to date, running on some of the waste heat produced by a nearby power plant, producing fresh water and salt.

However, desalination plants for the most part are extremely costly for less-developed nations, as they use enormous amounts of electricity and are location-sensitive. But thanks to a recent Israeli discovery, the desalination system may become much more affordable in areas like Africa and the Middle East.

Researchers from the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and central Arava R&D, have found a way to utilize solar energy at a fraction of the cost which can be custom-engineered for the desalination process, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The new innovation uses solar energy panels to power the pumps of a desalination unit that generates clean water for crops. More importantly, the technology utilizes unique nanofiltration membranes that enable farmers to decide which minerals should be retained from the water to feed various types of crops, a method which requires much less energy. The new system is currently being tested in the Arava Valley of Israel, south of the Dead Sea, where the basin is very dry. The results thus far show that farmers can use up to 25 percent less water and fertilizer than what has usually been needed in that area.

According to Andrea Ghermandi of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University and one of the system’s creators, the current environment is forcing agricultural systems to become more economical. Ghermandi told the MFA that “the growing global demand for food and competition for resources among economic sectors compel future agricultural systems to be more efficient in the use of natural resources such as land and water.”

Another important researcher in the discovery, Ben Gurion University’s Rami Messalem explained that the” breakthrough here was to make the system more economical and we’ve done this using nanofiltration cleverly. Our system is compatible with electricity but is based on the premise that it can be used in poor countries, in places where you don’t have an electricity source—as a standalone system.”

The MFA website indicated that the new desalination system was made possible thanks to funding from Swiss philanthropist Samuel Josefowitz.

Minister: Blackouts from Cancelled Egyptian Gas Deal Should Hit Gaza, Not Israel

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The unintended consequence of the hostile cancellation of Egypt’s natural gas contract with Israel may result in increased blackouts in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu’s Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan says Israel should consider cutting its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip this summer in face of predicted power shortages.

Speaking at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Erdan said that before he is asked to authorize the use of more pollutants, to meet Israel’s severe fuel shortage and anticipated blackouts this summer, the Gaza Strip—which gets its electricity from the Israel Electric Company—should be taken off the grid.

“Take care of your own needs first,” Erdan told the ministers. “It’s unreasonable that if there’s an electricity shortage, we’ll cut off the supply to Israelis – but not to Gaza, which we left seven years ago and have no responsibility for.”

In a letter Erdan had sent to fellow ministers, he argued that “if there are power shortages in Israel this summer, the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip should be halted… It represents 4.5 percent of Israeli production.”

“Electricity production will be less than demand this summer,” Erdan told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday.

“We are looking at using production methods that are more polluting and alternative energy sources like solar but we may still have to have electricity outages,” Edran said.

Referring to late payments by the Palestinian Authority for the 120 megawatts which Israel supplies Gaza, Erdan added, “If we are in that situation it would be absurd for Israelis to be the first ones affected while at the same time we continue to provide electricity to Gaza, while they are not paying.”

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman of the Islamist movement Hamas which controls Gaza, said Erdan’s “threats… exposed the true face of the occupation.”

“What is required from the Arab countries, and Egypt in particular, is the creation of an Arab, Egyptian safety net for the residents of Gaza in light of the Zionist blackmail,” he added.

Israel’s energy generation was heavily depended on natural gas supplies from Egypt, which have been closed off pending a renegotiations of the 2005 contract.

The Gaza Strip experienced its worst electricity crisis this year, with diminishing fuel supplies from Egypt forcing the shutting down of Gaza’s only power plant.

Gaza experienced power cuts of up to 18 hours a day, but the situation improved after a deal last month between Gaza’s Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority, which agreed to supply Gaza with fuel purchased from Israel.

The PA and Hamas agreed that the cost of the 500,000 liters per day of fuel for the plant would be met from revenue collected from customers by the Gaza electricity company.

Gaza’s electricity company generates 80 megawatts. It receives 120 megawatts from Israel and 80 megawatts from Egypt, which combined only meets about two-thirds of demand.

Erdan accused the Hamas government of punishing its own population by cutting off power to some civilians while keeping the lights on in areas where it enjoys political support.

Erdan said cutting the export of electricity to Gaza would be done only as a result of need and not “collective punishment” of Gaza’s civilian population.

Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Sign Underwater Electric Cable Deal

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

AFP reports that Israel and Cyprus have signed an accord Sunday to lay an underwater electricity cable between the two countries. It’s the first stage in an effort to transfer power between mainland Europe and Israel.

The cable, to be complete by 2016, will stretch 178 miles, at a depth of 6,550 feet.

Israel Electric Corporation CEO Yiftach Ron Tal declared at the signing that the “Euro-Asia Interconnect,” with the capacity to transfer 2,000 megawatt, will forever free Israel: “No more Israel as an economic island.”

Additional underwater cables will connect Cyprus and mainland Europe via Greece, who also signed the agreement. Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said “Israel will be able to receive backup electricity from Cyprus and Europe, and in the future, we will be able to provide them with energy.”

Is It A Car? Is It A Network? No — It’s Both

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

It’s February in Israel and, mercifully, we’ve been having one of the wettest winters in many years. The level of the Sea of Galilee is now almost 3ft above where it was this time last year.

But stark headlines are screaming of summer electricity shortages. In June, pioneering electric car company Better Place will begin delivering to customers in Israel the battery-switch capable Renault Fluence ZE sedan – just a month into peak air conditioning season. How irresponsible is it to load the grid with electric cars when there is a recognized shortfall in generating capacity? There is a very clever reason these cars may actually help, and it relates to a controversial law that Israel has passed: charging an electric car from the regular electricity system is illegal. You may only use (at present) a Better Place charge point. Critics are screaming about state-appointed monopolies and rewards for crony lobbyists.

First some background on Israel’s electricity infrastructure: The so called ‘Arab spring’ has seen Israel’s supply of natural gas from Egypt interrupted by pipeline sabotage numerous times in the last year. Israel gets 61% of its electricity from imported coal, 37% from gas and the rest from fuel oil (source: Israel Electric Company). Israel has its own small gas field on stream now but the more major recent finds are not on stream yet.

Israel is a hot, desert country and summer is by far the peak time for energy use – with air-conditioning at a near-ubiquitous usage. The average daily summer temperature on the coast in Tel Aviv is above 87℉from March to November, while Eilat in the southern desert is much hotter.  A little-known mitigating factor is the almost universal use of simple radiated heat – solar water heaters in 90% of homes and businesses for hot water. These cheap, simple devices were made mandatory for new residential building in the early 1990s meaning there is very little hot water heating during the summer.

Whatever the internal causes, the news right now is full of predictions that Israel will have production reserves of only 2-3% in the summer. Energy minister, Uzi Landau has said “There is a great danger that the electricity grid will fail if there is any type of breakdown at the power station, especially during peak usage hours.” Plans are in place to ship in portable 25 megawatt generating equipment to help out.

For those who don’t know, Better Place is on the verge of going live in Israel with the first all electric cars to be offered to the public in Israel. These Better Place cars differ from other electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf because their depleted battery can be swapped for a full one in around 4 minutes. The Renault ZE is also larger than the Nissan or the Chevy: sized more like a Honda Accord a real, practical family car.

The cars are sold to consumers with a big sticker: “battery not included”. The battery, and most importantly, all the electricity you will ever put into your car, are bought from Better Place in the form of a monthly subscription. These subscriptions are dependent on the number of miles you plan to drive but start at a relatively high level of 12,000 miles per year. Better Place does not want low mileage drivers: Better Place’s business model makes it’s money per mile! By not forcing the consumer to buy the most expensive single part of the car, it’s battery, the sticker price of the car is competitive with similarly-equipped gasoline cars on the Israeli market. Right now, Better Place is fixing the subscription price for the next four years. The price is highly competitive when compared to the cost of gasoline in Israel — which is over double the price in the US.

So how does that square with a car that can only drive 100 miles on a full charge? Included in the purchase price is the complete installation of a home charging point with it’s own meter and separate connection to the power company – it does not appear on the home owner’s electricity bill. Commit to 16,000 miles per year and you can have one at your place of work too. So, for many users who drive less than 100 miles per day or 100 miles each way to a place of work, home charging will be their sole source of power. Better Place is also installing public charge spots in mall parking lots and other locations. Each owner has a smart card that identifies them and opens a public charge port for them.

The unique part of Better Place, however, is the network of battery switch stations they’re rolling out along every major route in Israel. Drive into one, it looks like an automatic car wash, sit in the car and 5 minutes later drive out with 100% charge. Your depleted battery is taken inside, cooled to 40℉ and rapidly charged ready for another car. Israel is a small country. East to west through Tel Aviv you can cross the country and return on a single charge. North to south would take two or three battery swaps. Around 60 stations are enough for the whole country.

Israel’s Four Elements: Four Holy Cities: Living In The Heart Of The World

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

While studying the anatomy of the heart in Machon Biotechnology in Israel, I had some thoughts: The four holiest cities in Israel – Jerusalem (fire/aish),Tzfat (wind/ruach), Chevron (earth/adamah), and Tverya (water/mayim) – seem to correspond to the four chambers of the heart.

Tverya and Tzfat would be the right side of the heart – the “blue” blood – de-oxygenated. Tverya has the Kinneret (water/blue), which is like the right atrium and drains the de-oxygenated blood from the body. Why is Tzfat all blue, and why does it relate to the element of wind/ruach? It is like the right ventricle, which pumps the “blue” blood to the lungs (ruach).

Chevron (earth/adamah) is red/brown like oxygenated blood. Our forefathers, buried there, give us the “blood” – as they have made the Jewish people. Chevron’s “blood” flows to Jerusalem, which is fire-red. It is an intense place, and so is the left ventricle with thicker, walled muscles – as it pumps blood to the rest of the body.

I am blessed to live in the Old City, which is the SA node (electricity of the heart) – the electricity of the world. It is the source of energy and everything else. Hashem’s Shechinah and light flows from here. The heart “runs” on its own. It creates its own electricity, and is not dependent on the body for its electricity source. Israel is not dependent on the world and runs on miracles. As a madrichah in the Heritage House in the Old City, I have seen so many miracles happen to the tourists who stay in our hostel. They transform, come to clarity about things in their lives, find meaning, and gain more understanding about themselves. Every day is a surprise, and feels so alive here because G-d makes it more clear here that you are in His Hands.

If there is a straight line on the heart monitor, the person is not alive. The terrain of hills in Jerusalem shows what it is like to live here. In other places the land is flat and one may feel comfortable or maybe half asleep, but in Israel one feels so alive – through the ups and downs. I bless you to merit living here, in the heart of the world.

Here is what my experience has been like living in the heart of the world. I came on a vacation to Israel for a month before starting my ultrasound program at UMBC in August. While here, I was having a really awesome time and asked to defer my program for a year. Having received permission, I canceled my return ticket and decided to stay. I had no plans of where to stay or what to do. Thank G-d, everything worked out as a result of miracles. I never dreamed of living in the Old City and enrolled in an Israeli program learning ultrasound at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. I definitely felt then and now that things are up in the air, as I am unsure what’s next. But everything works out because the Almighty loves us!

G-d sent a lesson my way while going to the Kotel one day.  I heard some cheering coming from the Kotel, saw a camp there, and thought, “How disrespectful, cheering at the Kotel.” I observed that each camper had a counselor with him/her.   Many children were in wheelchairs, and cheering was their way of praying.  With shining eyes, they looked like they were in seventh heaven!  The counselors were also shining, and this is exactly what G-d wanted.  It was a truly beautiful sight to witness.

I was deeply touched by the message G-d sent me coming to the Kotel. Sometimes some things may not seem so beautiful from afar, but the beauty is realized when seen up close.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/israels-four-elements-four-holy-cities-living-in-the-heart-of-the-world/2010/10/13/

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