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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘water’

It Took 6 Years: Israel, PA, Sign Politics-Free Water Deal

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Coordinator of Government Activity in the (liberated) Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai the PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh on Sunday signed the renewal of the Joint Water Committee, as part of the Oslo Accords. The JWC will be entrusted with overhauling the decrepit water infrastructure in the PA, which has been neglected, like many other issues, under the PLO-dominated government.

According to the agreement, the JWC will discuss providing more water to the PA and the Gaza Strip faster, using existing resources and drilling for new ones. The committee will also deal with environmental issues, water tariffs, and water for agricultural use. The new agreement also calls for installing new water and sewage pipes in the PA.

The revived committee will coordinate and supervise water reservoir usage, ahead of the summer months.

The COGAT statement said, “The signing of this water agreement proves that it’s possible to reach understandings and agreements when we discuss issues substantively, bilaterally, clean of extraneous issues of natural resources and additional infrastructures that affect the entire population. Over the past year and half, we’ve signed four agreements: electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular infrastructure, which is intended to improve the quality of life for all the populations in the region.”

David Israel

Fire And Water

Monday, January 9th, 2017

What do you think of when you think of fire or water? Personally, water brings to mind the pitter patter of raindrops on a window pane. Or sloshing through puddles (the child in me is still alive…). Or misty rainbows in the sky. If it’s summer, I envision a gleaming swimming pool. Fire also brings up visions of positive, fun-filled activities: Shabbos and Chanukah candles, roasted marshmallows and bonfires on Lag Ba’Omer. But fire and water are also powerful, primal forces to be reckoned with. Beautiful, compelling and captivating, they can also be overwhelming and destructive.

A month ago, Israel was ablaze. The fires began with brushfires, a natural occurrence in an unusually dry, windy season, and were magnified a thousand-fold by the malicious, premeditated deeds of men. The hand of Nature leads us to prayer and supplication; man’s evil produces feelings of rage and revenge. And much pain.

The Holy Land is a feeling, living entity. It responds not only to hard work and wise care, but to the spiritual state of its people. Like a loving parent, the land embraces her children and they embrace her in turn. That is why, when we see the burnt forests so lovingly planted (remember the “leaves” Jewish children the world over purchased to plant Jewish National Fund trees?), when we see houses and fields turned into ghostly skeletons, when the land is colored in ash grey instead of rich, growing green, we weep. We are profoundly grateful that despite the evacuation of sixty thousand people in Haifa and many hundreds elsewhere, the fires did not claim a single life. This was another awesome miracle from a merciful God. And there is no doubt, that with His help, the fields and forests will be replanted and the homes rebuilt. Hopefully, the people who lived in them will recoup and quickly recover from the trauma and move forward. Am Yisrael in its homeland is a resilient, creative, determined nation. But for the moment, we weep, even as we roll up our national sleeves and get to work.

It was a long, dry winter this year in the Holy Land. Had the annual rains come on time, the fires would not have been so destructive. But by the middle of Kislev (December), there was only one proper rainfall. “Proper” means a good, drenching rain that saturates the dry, sun-parched ground and leaves it thoroughly soaked, not just sprinkled with raindrops that quickly evaporate, leaving barely a whiff of refreshing rain-scent in the air. “Proper” means sufficient rain to provide snowmelt from Mt. Chermon to fill the Banias, Chatzbani and Dan rivers; it means rain from the sky to fill the wadis, streams and subterranean wells across the country. And, of course, rain to fill the Kinneret, our national harp-shaped jewel, whose waters flow into the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea.

Hopefully, by the time your read this, the weather will have changed although, for Eretz Yisrael, gishmei beracha – rains of blessingsmust also be g’shamim b’itam – rains which come in their proper time. Not too soon, not too late. Wheat and barley, the biblical staples of life, are planted in the autumn and must be watered by the winter rains in order to ripen on time for the spring harvest. The Torah tells us: And I will bring your rains in their proper seasons and the Land shall give forth its produce and the trees shall give their fruit (Vayikra 26,4). But only if the rains come “in their proper seasons.”

Like Choni HaM’agel, we pray not only for rain in the proper season, but also in proper measure, for water can be a curse as well as a blessing. Think storms and raging floods inundating the land. Or wild rivers sweeping away everything in their path. Too much of a good thing is… well… too much. Personally, I love to sit on the shore of the ocean and watch the waves. It’s humbling. And awesome. But water, like fire, can be devastating.

Nonetheless, in Israel, water, especially in the form of rain, is always welcome. It rains the night of a wedding? A sign of blessing for the new couple. It rains during a funeral? The Heavens are mourning with you. You just washed your windows? You may sigh for a moment but then you shake your head. No problem. The rain will clean away any residual dust and it will only take a minute to wipe the windows clean again. Rain is precious. Better a little more than a little less.

We know, of course, about the natural (i.e., miraculous!) recycling of water in the world. Vapor from the earth’s moisture evaporates and condenses into clouds which release water in the form of precipitation. Neighboring Egypt depends on the annual overflow from the Nile for its water, but the Torah stresses that we here in Israel receive our rain directly from the Heavens. I haven’t thoroughly researched the subject, but it seems to me that when the rain allotted to the Holy Land passes the Gates of Heaven, it absorbs rays of Divine Light, something akin to a celestial embrace. Thus hallowed and purified, the raindrops become suitable carriers of life-giving blessings for G-d’s People and His Land.

Both water and fire were essential elements in the service in the Batei Mikdash. When the third Bayit is rebuilt, water for the altar will again be drawn from the depths of the Shiloach spring outside the city of Jerusalem, and a flame on the altar will again ascend to the Heavens to serve as a glowing beacon of light from Zion to the world.

May both our fire and our water be only livracha… blessed.

Yaffa Ganz

Hikers Discover Engravings of Menorah and Cross in Judaean Lowlands Water Cistern

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

A rare and intriguing discovery was revealed last weekend by hikers on a Hanukkah trip who were exploring a water cistern in the Judaean lowlands: on the Cross chalk bedrock walls of the cistern: ancient engravings of a seven-branched menorah and a cross.

Hiking enthusiasts Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz, who are members of the Israel Caving Club, went out to visit hidden caves in the Judaean lowlands. According to Meroz, “We heard there are interesting caves in the region. We began to peer into them, and that’s how we came to this cave, which is extremely impressive, with niches carved in the rock and engravings on the wall. Just before we were about to return, we suddenly noticed an engraving that at first glance seemed to be a menorah. When we realized this is an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited. Its appearance was quite distinct. We left the cave and reported the discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

Engraving of a seven-branched menorah. Photo credit: Saʽar Ganor, IAA.

Engraving of a seven-branched menorah. Photo credit: Saʽar Ganor, IAA.

The menorah engraved on the wall of the cave has a base with three feet, and it evidently portrays the menorah that stood in the Temple during the Second Temple period. A cross was engraved near the menorah. Another engraving was found on the side of the cave which seems to resemble a type of key that is characteristic of antiquity, as well as other engravings that were noted, some of which have not yet been identified. Alongside the cistern is a columbarium with dozens of niches that were used to raise doves in antiquity. During the Second Temple period, doves were used as part of the sacrificial rites in the Temple.

According to Sa’ar Ganor, the IAA District Archaeologist of Ashkelon, “There are buildings and hiding refuges from the time of the Bar Kokhva uprising (second century CE) at the site and buildings that date to the Byzantine period. It is rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah, and this exciting discovery, which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday, substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period.”

Engraving of a cross. Photo credit: Saʽar Ganor, IAA.

Engraving of a cross. Photo credit: Saʽar Ganor, IAA.

Ganor added, “The menorah was probably etched in the cistern after the water installation was hewn in the bedrock – maybe by inhabitants of the Jewish settlement that was situated there during the Second Temple period and the time of Bar Kokhva – and the cross was etched later on during the Byzantine period, most likely in the fourth century CE.

The menorah is a distinctly Jewish symbol of the Second Temple period. To date, only two engravings of menorahs are known in the region of the Judaean Shephelah: one on an oil press at Bet Loya, where the same style menorah is depicted, and the other in a burial complex in the vicinity of Bet Guvrin. Other menorahs are portrayed on clay lamps from Beit Natif.

In light of this interesting discovery, which adds another important tier to the archaeological information and knowledge about the region, the IAA will continue to study the site, whose exact location has not been given, in order to protect it and the safety of hikers.

The hikers who discovered the engravings will receive a good citizenship certificate and will be invited to participate in the coming archaeological surveys that the IAA will conduct in the Judaean lowlands.


Erdan: 90% of Israel’s Waste Water Recycled, 4 Times Higher than Anywhere Else

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Minister of Strategic Affairs & Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan paid tribute to Israel’s world-renowned sustainable innovation at this week’s first-ever Israeli CSR Experience Conference hosted by Maala, the country’s CSR standards organization.

“Today, nearly 90 percent of our waste water is recycled,” Minister Erdan stated. “That’s around four times higher than any other country in the world. It is a remarkable achievement and this benefits not only Israel. Israeli companies are helping save water around the world, from Africa to California to India.”

The conference saw leaders from Israel’s business community and key international opinion makers in the sustainability and CSR community gather to address Israel’s social and environmental innovation and the strides it continues to make in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A plethora of speakers and experts from the likes of Teva, Intel, 3M and Strauss Group headed an all-day summit in Tel Aviv Wednesday; also featured were on-site visits around the country to witness Israel’s cutting-edge sustainability in action.

From the world’s most environmentally friendly recycled paper to water shortage solutions, sustainable healthcare, energy conservation and the green construction and infrastructure of the future, Israel continues to lead the way in sustainable innovation, living up to its status as the world’s top innovator in the field of clean technologies according to the Global Cleantech 100 Index.

“Israel is innovative, creative and dynamic and has more high-tech startups per capita than anywhere else in the world,” Erdan continued. “And these startups in large part are not only focused on creating high profits, but also on finding ways to solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Companies leading the way in sustainability and innovation within their respective fields featured at the event included Hadera Paper, the world’s most recycled & environment-friendly paper; Netafim – pioneers of drip and micro-irrigation; and Mekorot, the country’s top agency for water management. These companies were recognized at the conference for their extraordinary vision and innovation in addressing some of the country’s most pressing issues.

“This is our first ever international conference and we feel CSR work in Israel has reached a mature enough stage to reflect on our environment with the international CSR community,” said Maala CEO Momo Mahadav. “There is, however, lots of work still to be done and we’ve planned this day to allow as much engagement as possible. Israeli CSR has always focused on domestic needs first, which is a big difference from the international CSR community that focuses on global issues, such as climate change.”

Ninety-eight companies now voluntarily participate in the annual Maala CSR Index, an assessment tool Benchmarking Israeli Companies on their corporate social responsibility Performance, including Teva, Unilever Israel, Strauss Group, Siemens Israel, Microsoft Israel, Intel Israel, El Al and Live Person. These 75 large and 23 small to mid-size companies together employ 310,000, with annual sales of $94 billion, representing approximately one-third of Israel’s GDP.

David Israel

Israel Weighing Moving Desalinated Water to Drought-Plagued Kinneret

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Israel’s Water Authority is looking into establishing a system to move desalinated water from central Israel to lake Kinneret, in the opposite direction of the historic National Water Carrier of Israel, which has been delivering Kinneret water to the Negev since 1964. Over the past three years, due to partial droughts and natural evaporation, the Kinneret’s rate of replenishment has been reduced substantially.

An additional burden on the receding lake is the uninterrupted consumption by Jordan. In accordance with the 1994 peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the latter will be drawing 11.2 billion gallons of water from the Kinneret – while Israel in 2016 will be drawing only about 6.6 billion gallons.

So the Kinneret continues to recede and the Water Authority realizes something’s gotta’ give. The plan, according to a report in Ha’aretz Wednesday, is to push 27 billion gallons annually into the lake from desalination plants in central Israel, raising the Kinneret water level by about 28 inches each year.

Incidentally, the total annual capacity of central Israel’s desalination plants is 150 billion gallons, making Israel the runaway king of water reclamation on planet Earth. By 2015, Israel’s desalination programs provided roughly 40% of Israel’s drinking water and it is expected to supply 70% by 2050.

The plan was presented at Tuesday’s inaugural meeting of the Water Public Forum at Tel Aviv University, which included past and present Water Authority senior officials, scientists, engineers, managers of northern water societies, and representatives of environmental groups.

Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, Israeli farmers upriver from the Kinneret, who had been refused an increase of 11 billion gallons annually, have begun to draw water from the Jordan River at night – endangering the environment which is already on a brink of an ecological crisis – this while Jordan continues to siphon exactly this amount for its own agriculture.


PA Civil Defense Rescues Settler after 6 Days in Waterhole

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

An Israeli resident of Avnei Hefetz, on the western edge of northern Samaria, was rescued on Saturday by PA Civil Defense forces after being stuck in an empty waterhole for six days, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.

The man climbed down into the hole last Sunday, apparently to meditate alone (“hitbodidut” in Hebrew), when his rope was torn he became stuck. He was discovered only a full six days later, on Saturday, by the PA Arabs who released him immediately and alerted the IDF Civil Administration.

“Would you like something to drink?” the rescuers asked the man, gave him water and retrieved and handed him his wallet, cash intact, which he had left in the hole.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) transported the man to the Israeli side of the 1993 Oslo-agreement borderline, where he received EMT treatment.

So far it isn’t clear why no one in Avnei Hefetz was aware of the man’s absence for almost a week, though if the man disappeared regularly that could explain it.


Reflections On Water

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

I well remember the day that I became part of that less than exclusive club. My membership was all the more surprising in light of my latent New Yorker genes. Even after leaving over three decades ago and relocating to no less than three different countries and many states and provinces, I could not eradicate them completely. My kids always complained, only half jokingly, about my paranoid obsession with locking and bolting the front door. Even when they were expected to return home at any moment. Even when they were just behind me on the steps!

I was far from the trusting, naïve type you would expect to fall prey to this scheme. So how had this conceivably happened to me, of all people?

Something tells me that a little background information is required before we can even begin to piece together this mystery.

But first a disclaimer: This is decidedly not one of those heart-warming “Only in Israel” strolls down memory lane. It is actually as far from it as can possibly be. In fact, I thought long and hard about sharing this story for that very reason. (Aside from the fact that Yours Truly does not exactly come out smelling like a rose either!) In the end, I decided that literary integrity must prevail over all other considerations. So here is the decidedly unflattering (but undisputedly captivating) tale of the waterman… and me.

We waited quite a while to move into our brand new home. In total there were the four years we spent in chutz laaretz after purchasing it on paper and the year we spent living in a loaner apartment while we awaited its completion. I guess that can at least partially explain why I felt particularly attached to our “piece of the rock.”

It happened shortly after we eventually moved in; the ubiquitous workers had finally finished their various tasks and we were at long last beginning to settle in and feel at home. That was precisely the juncture at which the waterman made his unannounced and unexpected appearance.

He was tall and had a broad build, with curly hair and arresting blue eyes. (The “arresting” should have furnished a clue, but I was sadly somewhat slow on the uptake!) Like most workers and officials in this country, he was dressed casually, with no uniform or badge of any kind. Instead he wore a black tee shirt and khaki cargo pants with very deep pockets. (Clue number two, had I been paying attention.)

“I’m from the water department,” he announced, when I opened the door. “There’s a break in a water main outside and I’m concerned about your pipes…”

“We just moved in…” I shared. And then added, “I’m in the middle of washing a load of whites. Do you think that will be affected?”

He shook his head sympathetically, “I’m afraid so. I’ll return in a few minutes and we’ll check the pipes together.”

My husband had just left to run an important errand in Yerushalayim, and I immediately tried reaching him on his cell phone, with no success.

Before I could make another attempt, the waterman was back again, ready to get down to business. The New Yorker in me was somewhat suspicious, but at the same time, I was grateful that the laborers had left, taking their constant mess with them, and I had subsequently cleaned the house until it sparkled. My biggest concern was that this unfortunate unforeseen development would destroy my laundry and my new pipes.

Seeing him as the lesser of the two evils, I let him into my house and led him to the kitchen and each bathroom in turn, so that we could inspect whether rust was coming out of any of the faucets throughout the apartment. It seemed somewhat contrived to me, but when we reached my bedroom and bathroom on the attic level, I was certain that he was up to no good.

“You go back down to the kitchen and turn the water on and off,” he instructed me.

I hurried downstairs and dialed my husband again. Baruch Hashem this time he answered right away.

“I think we’re being robbed!” I breathed, filling him in briefly. “What do I do now?”

He had me summon the water man/robber to the phone.

“My husband is on the phone and he wants to speak to you!” I shouted.

The ganif rushed down the stairs and took the proffered receiver from my hand.

“No problem,” he assured my husband. “I can come back later today. Or my partner Roni can come.”

With that, he handed back the phone, bid me good-bye and took his leave.

I raced up two flights of stairs and into my bedroom. Sure enough, the three or four hundred dollar bills in maaser money that our married daughter had left us, earmarked for a specific tzedaka, were gone!

Next I zoomed down the stairs and out my front door. The “water man” was just outside my building, totally oblivious to the brewing storm.

“That man just stole all my tzedaka money!” I thundered, pointing an accusing finger at the perpetrator, like a modern day Esther Hamalka. The men outside, most of them Arab workers still dealing with odds-and-ends jobs on our street, showed little interest in my tirade.

But, the “water man” apparently heard my accusation loud and clear. He immediately began running down my street, darting into and out of private entrances up and down the block, like a mouse trapped in an unfamiliar maze. He ultimately reached the end of the block… and freedom.

A neighbor loaned me a cell phone, and I quickly dialed the police department, furnishing whatever descriptive information I could.

While we were still standing outside awaiting the police, the frum young man from the gas department who had recently hooked-up our house for gas service, pulled up in his small truck.

“What’s going on?” he inquired anxiously. “And who is that suspicious-looking character I just saw tearing down the main road, clutching his over-sized pockets?”

The police arrived moments later, took a report, checked the scene of the crime, and left to scour the streets in our neighborhood. Like the bumbling Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame, they returned some time later, utterly baffled and empty-handed. I could not help wishing that the gasman had been assigned to my case instead.

In fact, acting on his earlier questions, I checked through my jewelry boxes with a fine-tooth comb. Sure enough, aside from the cash, two necklaces and my engagement bracelet, all decorated with small diamonds or diamond chips, were missing as well. I updated my police report, but did not honestly hold out much hope of being reunited with the money or jewelry anytime soon.

In the meantime, my husband never made it to Yerushalayim that day; he turned around and hurried back home to offer me moral support.

He also shared his own side of the story with me.

“I was in the car, about to leave,” he confessed. “But I noticed an unfamiliar guy loitering around outside our house… I stuck around for a few more minutes, but nothing happened,” he continued. “So I drove off after all… Now I am so angry at myself!”

Naama Klein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/reflections-on-water/2016/11/17/

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