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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

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.

Does Borrowing Pay?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010
“Pesach is just around the corner,” was Mrs. Adler’s motto. She began planning right after Tu B’Shevat, started cleaning after Purim, and limited food to the kitchen from Rosh Chodesh Nisan.
The star of Pesach cleaning was her trusted Hoover canister vacuum cleaner. Mrs. Adler ran it over the carpets and wooden floors, poked it into all the cabinets and every nook and cranny, and left not a speck on the couch and beds. It was the most expensive model, but its powerful suction and versatility made it worth the cost, for Pesach.
One morning, while Mrs. Adler was vacuuming, the doorbell rang. “C’mon in, Sally” she called to her closest neighbor, Sally Baum, who lived down the hall.
“How’s Pesach coming along?” asked Mrs. Baum.
            “So far, I’ve managed to keep on schedule,” replied Mrs. Adler. “I hate the last minute rush.”
“Any new tips?” asked Mrs. Baum.
“Sure,” said Mrs. Adler. “Here’s one from ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ about removing oil stains from stovetops. Here’s another one I found online about washing sweaters without pilling.”
“I just wish I had a better vacuum,” lamented Mrs. Baum. “Mine works on the carpet, but not on fabrics and hard surfaces.”

“Mine is great,” glowed Mrs. Adler. “I’m using it now, but you can borrow it tonight.”

In the evening, Mrs. Baum sent her son to pick up the vacuum. “Don’t forget to say, ‘Thank you,’ ” she reminded him.
Armed with the vacuum, Mrs. Baum went around the edges of the rooms and poked with the crevice tool behind the cabinets. She started to clean the couch.
“Hi, Sally,” she heard her husband’s voice.
Mrs. Baum looked up. “Welcome home,” she replied. “You know that Mrs. Adler always says, ‘Pesach is just around the corner.’ Well, now it really is.”
“Where’s that fancy new vacuum from?” inquired her husband. “You know that we have more urgent expenditures for Pesach.”
“Don’t worry,” laughed Mrs. Baum. “I didn’t spend a penny; Mrs. Adler was kind enough to lend us hers for the evening. Come have supper.”
After supper, Mrs. Baum continued vacuuming. Without warning, the vacuum suddenly sparked and the electricity blew. “What happened?” called out Mr. Baum. “I’m not sure,” answered his wife. “It seems that the vacuum blew the fuse.”
Mr. Baum unplugged the machine and replaced the fuse. “That was strange,” he said. “We never have problems with the electricity.”
“Back to work,” said Mrs. Baum as she plugged the vacuum in. She pressed the button but nothing happened. She pressed again, with no response. She tried a different outlet; still nothing.
“The motor died,” groaned Mrs. Baum. “How am I going to face Mrs. Adler? She relies on this machine for everything!”
“We’ll have to buy her a new one,” said her husband. “We can’t afford this now, but we have no choice.” Mrs. Baum walked down the hall to the Adlers with the broken vacuum and $500.
Mrs. Adler greeted her, “Finished already Sally? You’re fast.”
“I’m really sorry, but the vacuum broke,” said Mrs. Baum.
“Please tell me you’re kidding.” said Mrs. Adler. “I’ll never manage without it.”
“Really, it’s broken,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it and it just went. But I brought you money to buy a new one.”
Mr. Adler walked over. “Is there a chance that you overtaxed the machine? Sucked up something that clogged the airflow?”
“No,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it normally. But what’s the difference? When you borrow something you’re responsible no matter what.”
“That’s usually true,” said Mr. Adler. “However, I remember learning that if the item breaks or dies through normal usage the borrower is exempt. I’ll ask Rabbi Dayan at the Daf tonight.”
After the Daf, Mr. Baum walked home with Rabbi Dayan and asked about the vacuum. “You are correct,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “When you borrow something you are responsible even for freak accidents, but if it dies or breaks on account of the work for which it was borrowed – you are exempt. This is called ‘meisah machmas melachah‘” (C.M. 340:1).
            “Why should this be?” asked Mr. Baum.
“The Gemara (B.M. 96b) explains that the owner lent the item with the understanding that it be used; therefore, he accepted the consequences of this usage,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “However, there are two caveats. First, the borrower is exempt only if he used the item for the purpose for which it was lent, but if he used it in even a slightly different manner he is responsible. He does not need to buy a brand new machine, though, but only to pay for the actual loss (344:2).”
“The second caveat,” continued Rabbi Dayan, “is that the borrower must prove with witnesses or take a solemn oath in beis din that the item broke during the course of work to be exempt, unless the lender completely trusts him” (344:1).

“Thus, if you trust Mrs. Baum that the vacuum died during routine use, she is exempt,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “If she wants to pay something as a neighborly gesture, that’s fine, but it’s important to know the halacha.”

 

Rabbi Meir Orlian is a member of the Business Halacha Institute faculty, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, shlita, a dayan in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Institute provides a wide range of services related to money and property issues, including weekly classes for businessmen in various cities.

For questions regarding halachic monetary issues or to bring BHI to your synagogue please call 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.

Why Can’t I Get Married? (Part Four)

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Some weeks ago I published a letter from a secular Jewish woman in her mid-thirties. To all appearances, she had everything going for her – a successful career, good health, dynamic personality, many boyfriends and relationships. She wrote, however, that it all had no meaning. More than anything, she yearned to build a home and start a family, but marriage kept eluding her.

“Why can’t I get married?” she cried out, and her cry resonated in many hearts. I have received a plethora of letters and e-mail – all struggling with this same question – secular and observant Jews wrote and even non-Jews echoed her dilemma. It seems that singles all over the world are confronted with this very same challenge.

In past columns I mentioned that there were many contributing factors to this escalating problem. To discuss all of them and do justice to them, I would probably have to write a book. Nevertheless, the problem is vexing, and while our discussion may be limited, I do believe that it has to be put on the table, for it is already out-of- hand. I isolated a few factors in last week’s column and demonstrated how many of the values and mores of our contemporary society lobbyagainst marriage.

Specifically, I focused on relationships and asked why a secular young man in today’s world should undertake the responsibility of marriage when he can simply enter into a relationship that can be terminated at the drop of a hat without entanglements or monetary consequences. So, in a sense, girls who facilitate these relationships underwrite their own difficulties in finding their marriage partners.

That being the case, the question still remains: How do we resolve the dilemma of religiously observant singles who are committed to a Torah way of life? Why can’t they find their bashertes – soul mates? The question becomes even more troublesome when you consider that, from early childhood, these singles have been nurtured with a vision – to go under the chuppah and establish a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael – a genuine Jewish home. These girls are not sidetracked by careers, by dreams of travel or by entering trial marriages through relationships. And significantly, they reside in their parental homes much longer than their secular single counterparts. They benefit from parental intervention and guidance.

In the Orthodox world, mothers and fathers actively network to make shidduchim for their children. They have access to numerous shadchanim and chesed committees that have been specifically designed for that purpose. So the question still remains: what went wrong? Why are there so many single women in the Torah world who have difficulty “taking that short path down the aisle?”

In this column, I will touch briefly on a few factors, but the reader should by no means consider them definitive. Obviously, there are many reasons that come into play, and I invite you to share your thoughts on the subject. You can e-mail me at rebbetzinhineni.org or write to me at Hineni, 232 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023.

Electricity/Chemistry

There is a saying in Yiddish, “The way the non-Jewish world goes, so goes the Jewish world.”

Whether we like it or not, to one extent or another, we are influenced by our environment. Even as it is impossible to enter a perfume factory without absorbing some of the aroma, so it is difficult not to be impacted by our culture. Ours is a world that places tremendous emphasis on external appearances. When it comes to marriage, looks and material possessions are all-important. Many of our single men have formed unrealistic images of “that gorgeous, ‘size- zero’ girl,” but these very same young men never bother looking in the mirror and asking, “Would I want to marry someone who looks like me?” Nor do they ask, “What do I have to offer this girl?”

And it is not only young men who can be problematic – their mothers can be equally unreasonable, holding out for what they consider to be “that perfect girl” (beautiful and the daughter of a substantial family that can offer generous support), and thus they dismiss many good prospects.

In all honesty, however, I must add that while this problem is more prevalent in the case of men, in my experiences as a shadchan, I have found that girls can also be very difficult, and after a while, they too can lose all sense of reality. We live in an “entitlement” society and seldom consider that, instead of making demands, we have a mandate to give. Thus, precious years can go by looking for that “perfect” girl or guy who is no more than a figment of the imagination.

We Are Good Friends

Many singles live in communities that offer special activities – Shabbatonim and other gatherings. After a while, these programs too can prove to be counterproductive, deluding singles into believing that they are doing their best to pursue a match, whereas in reality, they are just going from event to event. Under such circumstances, dating for tachlis – marriage, becomes more complicated. Often, I have tried to make shidduchim between two people residing in the same neighborhood, only to be told, “Oh, we know one another – We go to the same Shabbos seudos – dinners, etc. She/he is very nice…we are good friends,” they tell me, and with that, the possibility of a shidduch is closed.

Time and again, I heard my father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, urging parents to heed the teachings of our sages and marry off their children at a young age, for, as the years pass, my father would warn, there is a tendency to pick up more and more “shtick” and become entrenched in one’s ways.

A man in his early 40s who had been dating endlessly came to consult me regarding a shidduch. Since I knew many of the girls he had dated and they were all lovely young women, I wondered aloud what he had found objectionable in them.

“Tell me what you are seeking in a wife, so that I might better help you,” I said.

He readily confessed that he had dated more women than he could count, but he just never felt any “electricity” for any of them.

“Let me tell you about electricity,” I said. ” New York is one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced cities in the world, but even in New York, there have been electrical failures. Electricity today is no guarantee that there won’t be a power failure tomorrow.”

“Rebbetzin, what are you trying to tell me?” he asked.

“Simple – Instead of electricity, you would do well to look for goodness, kindness, timeless values and common goals. Such power is lasting and guaranteed never to fail!”

“But,” he protested, “doesn’t there have to be chemistry?”

“Of course you have to feel attracted to the person,” I agreed, but such attraction should not be confused with the superficial fluff that our 21st century culture has come to adulate. And then I told him a story about a bachelor his own age who traveled to Israel to consult a sage.

“If everyone has a basherte – a soul mate, why can’t I find mine?” he asked.

The sage studied him for a few minutes and said, “Maybe you did find her, but instead of seeing her heart, you just saw her face and worried that she wasn’t pretty enough.”

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/why-cant-i-get-married-part-five-2/2010/03/11/

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