Going Green Jewishly

Israeli Solar Warms Up

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
The country has embraced technological innovation—except in renewable energy. Is that finally changing?
By Daniel Gross for Slate

In late July, workers flipped the switch on a large-scale solar field—a 40-megawatt plant covering 134 acres. They hooked it up to the grid in the desert and began delivering emission-free power. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about this event. Given the rampant growth of solar around the world, this kind of thing happens almost daily, and large solar arrays can now be planned and built in a matter of months.

But this one took six years to come to fruition. And its location is unique. The field, a joint venture of Arava Power and a subsidiary of Électricité de France, is the first utility-scale solar plant to be built in Israel.

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Champions of Change: People of Faith Acting on Climate, Honored by White House

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 7:00am
Posted by Angela Barranco on July 22, 2015 - whitehouse.gov/blog

On Monday, I was pleased to be able to welcome twelve people of faith as they were honored as White House “Champions of Change” for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change. These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change.

The Champions shared personal reflections on their efforts in advance of the event:

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Israeli Startup Breeds Protein-Rich Edible Insects To End World Hunger

Mon, 08/10/2015 - 7:00am
By Luke Tress, The Times of Israel, on nocamels.com

Millions of people suffer from lack of protein, which is especially dangerous for children – and with the world population set to grow significantly in the coming years, mankind needs more, and cheaper, sources of protein.

Problem solved, believes Dror Tamir. According to Tamir, his company can provide a healthy, cheap alternative source of protein to the millions of children who lack other sources. His plan, he believes, will improve their health, give their families food security and jobs, and help the environment. How? With bugs. “We are growing edible insects for humans,” Tamir said.

His company, Steak TzarTzar – the word means cricket — which he founded with Ben Friedman and Chanan Aviv, aims to be the first to farm edible insects, using high-tech methods to quickly grow them in an organized manner, under sanitary conditions.

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Thank This Jew For Inventing Drip Irrigation

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:00am
By Abby Sher for Jewniverse

On these hottest days of summer – especially when parts of our country are rationing water – we should thank late Israeli engineer Simcha Blass for helping farmers figure out how to best harness the water they do have.

Blass revolutionized drip irrigation in the early 1930’s, pretty haphazardly. As the story goes, Blass saw a big tree growing seemingly without water. When he dug into the soil, he found an onion-shaped pocket of underground water feeding the tree’s roots. Each drop of water was being stored and sucked out as needed.

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Israeli Researchers Working on Innovative Project to End Global Water Shortage

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 7:00am
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University, Technion, Hebrew University, and Australia’s Monash University are working to develop “water sensitive cities
By: Maayan Jaffe, JNS.org, in ShalomLife.com

California headlines this month scream “water shortage”—but the shortage is not limited to the western United States. According to a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while the demand for freshwater resources is increasing, the supply remains constant and many regions are starting to feel the pressure. The report states that water managers in 40 of 50 states expect water shortages in some portion of their states within the next 10 years.

Amid this grave prognosis, a new Israeli research project might make the Jewish state an important part of the solution.

In what is arguably one of the most innovative water research consortiums to date, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Australia’s Monash University are working to develop “water sensitive cities.” The description for the project, which is funded by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), says that water sensitive cities adopt and combine decentralized and centralized water management solutions to deliver water security. The data gathered from the project may be used to support development of urban master plans in cities in Israel and around the world.

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Why Dangerous Sinkholes Keep Appearing Along the Dead Sea

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 7:00am
by Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer, LiveScience
For millennia, the salty, mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea have drawn visitors and health pilgrims to its shores. But in recent years, gaping chasms have been opening up without warning along its banks, posing a threat to such visitors and tourism in general.

Nestled between Israel and the Palestinian territories to the west, and Jordan to the east, the Dead Sea is famous for is extreme salinity (34 percent salt, almost 10 times as salty as the ocean), and for having the lowest elevation on Earth, at 1,407 feet (429 meters) below sea level.

But for the past few decades, the sea has been shrinking rapidly, due to the diversion of water from the Jordan River (which feeds the Dead Sea) and mineral mining from its waters in the south. The water's surface is currently receding by about 3 feet (1 m) per year, according to Hanan Ginat, a geologist at the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center, which runs under the auspices of Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

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Colony Collapse: Catskills Bungalows Hit By Zoning

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 7:00am
Venerable Jewish vacation spots to be replaced by upscale housing
By Jas Chana for The Scroll in Tablet Magazine

The Catskills bungalow colonies that have played host for countless Jewish vacationers for decades are now becoming extinct. On Monday, the Times Herald-Record reported that new zoning regulations in Sullivan County, NY, updated last October, have encouraged developers to replace the bungalow colonies with “new year-round summer homes, townhouses and modulars.” This is partly because the old bungalows no longer meet state building codes. For example, the Times Herald-Record reports that the bungalows were built on “stilts or cinder block piers” not actual foundations. The re-zoning is also a decided attempt to reduce clutter and restore the open countryside that has been destroyed by the sheer number of bungalows scattered across the county.
“Those towns have updated their zoning laws to create less density by specifically prohibiting bungalow colonies,” reports the Times Herald-Record. Those towns include Sullivan County’s largest—Thompson, Bethel, Liberty, Mamakating and Fallsburg.”

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Israeli scientist makes better sesame seed, wins award

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 7:00am
Using ancient breeding techniques and cutting-edge genetic markers, Dr. Zvi Peleg is improving the crop yield of this exasperating plant, and its nutritional value as well.
By Ruth Schuster for Haaretz

Sesame seeds are enormously popular but they have been a frustrating crop for farmers for thousands of years: the plant is hardy enough but its yields are low. Now a scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has developed methods to improve sesame crop yields while improving the seeds' nutritional quality too. In recognition of his work, Dr. Zvi Peleg has been awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2015.

Peleg's basic technique is as ancient as agriculture itself: selective breeding. You pick promising plants and cultivate and breed them while junking the inferior ones. But choosing which sesame plants to breed and which to throw out is based on cutting-edge genetic marker technology, Peleg explains to Haaretz.

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Agrolan Develops Portable Pollution Monitor

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 7:00am
Israel’s Agrolan Ltd. has unveiled a new mobile device that can measure air pollution. This is a groundbreaking development since until now only huge machines – which obviously must be kept stationary – could detect minute contaminants in the air. Now people will be able to take pollution monitors with them wherever they go.

The Golan Heights based Agrolan engages in the development of products that improve the environment. It has begun to market the first air pollution gauge of its kind in Israel. It is only slightly larger than a mobile phone and with it people can easily measure the amount of fine particulate matter suspended in the air at any point. The display has 6 background colors which highlight various pollution levels and with it pollution can be detected both indoors and outside.

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Texas and Israel’s Technion team up to build water system

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 7:00am
From Technion: Israel Institute of Technology

California could learn a thing or two about innovative water technologies from university researchers in Israel and Texas, whose joint desalination project won the Honorable Mention award in a USAID competition. A prize of $125,000 grant will be used in the near future to build a groundwater treatment plant in Jordan.

Driven perhaps by a common pioneering spirit or the aridness of their land, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel and the University of North Texas teamed up to enter the competition held by USAID— the United States Agency for International Development. The competition’s goal was to develop innovative technology for producing food and potable water in the Third World, using sustainable alternative energy. “By 2050, global water demand is expected to increase by 55%, and 70% of global water use occurs in food production,” said Christian Holmes, USAID Global Water Coordinator.

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Netanyahu: Israel Will Make the Most of Natural Gas Deposits

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 7:00am
PM responds to allegations of natural gas 'cartel,' resignation of antitrust authority chief; 'We won't repeat the mistakes of others.'
By Ari Soffer for Arutz7Sheva



Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has vowed that Israel will act as soon as possible to tap into massive natural gas deposits off the Israeli coast, and said he won't allow the process to be delayed by the ongoing controversy over allegations it is being monopolized.

"We will not repeat the mistake that other countries made when they sought ideal solutions for their gas and sometimes for their oil and as a result of which both the gas and the oil have remained below the seabed or underground," Netanyahu declared at the start of Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

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Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 7:00am
By Isabel Kershner for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — At the peak of the drought, Shabi Zvieli, an Israeli gardener, feared for his livelihood.

A hefty tax was placed on excessive household water consumption, penalizing families with lawns, swimming pools or leaky pipes. So many of Mr. Zvieli’s clients went over to synthetic grass and swapped their seasonal blooms for hardy, indigenous plants more suited to a semiarid climate. “I worried about where gardening was going,” said Mr. Zvieli, 56, who has tended people’s yards for about 25 years.

Across the country, Israelis were told to cut their shower time by two minutes. Washing cars with hoses was outlawed and those few wealthy enough to absorb the cost of maintaining a lawn were permitted to water it only at night.

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Could An Israeli Invention End Cooking As We Know It?

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 7:00am
From The Jewish Week

Plenty of mobile apps help consumers order meals for delivery or offer recipes.

But a new app developed by Israeli entrepreneurs will actually prepare the food for you on your kitchen counter.

While not quite as fantastical as it sounds — to use the app you also need a coffeemaker-sized appliance called The Genie — the invention promises to prepare mess-free, all-natural, healthy food in just seconds.

Described by one writer as “like a Keurig [coffeemaker] for food,” the device, which looks sort of like a fancy rice cooker, uses Keurig-like single-serving, disposable (but in this case recyclable) pods.
Genie creators Ayelet Carasso and Doron Marco told Reuters the food in the pods will be nutritious and free of preservatives, the ingredients kept fresh simply through freeze-drying technology.
“The dish can be anything, it can be a meal like chicken with rice, like couscous with vegetable or an amazing Ramen or even a chocolate soufflé or any other desert that you want,” Carasso told Reuters. (The product does not appear to have its own website yet, nor is it featured on the site of Marco and Carasso’s White Innovation company.)

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How Jewish Is Jewish Environmentalism?

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 7:00am
The wildly popular movement relies on simplified and selective readings of traditional sources. We deserve better.
By Julian Sinclair for Mosaic

A remarkable feature of American Jewish life over the past 40 years has been the growth of Jewish environmentalism. From origins on the fringes of the community, dozens of organizations today enlist tens of thousands of Jews every year in a plethora of activities that include the “greening” of synagogue buildings, organic farming, and environmental lobbying under a Jewish umbrella. The Union for Reform Judaism devotes several pages of its website to a programmatic initiative aimed at “integrating Jewish values, learning, and actions that promote shmirat ha-adamah—protection and renewal of the world.” In the annual observance of Tu b’Shvat, once a footnote on the liturgical calendar, Jewish environmentalism has even created its own holiday.

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How Israeli Desalination Technology Is Helping Solve California’s Devastating Drought

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 7:00am
By Betty Ilovici, NoCamels

Four years of devastating droughts in California have pushed cities and counties in the Golden State to seriously consider turning to the one drinking source that is not depleting anytime soon – seawater. With the Pacific Ocean abutting their shores, water desalination may be the much-needed solution for Californians. But desalination has its disadvantages, the chief ones being the high costs and the potential environmental damage.

To address these challenges, California is turning to the world leader in cutting edge desalination technology – Israel. A $1 billion desalination project is already underway in San Diego County – which will be the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere – and Israeli engineers have been called in for their expertise.

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How a Biblical Edict Became a Boon for Palestinian Farmers

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 7:00am
Naomi Zeveloff at The Forward

Just beyond the Israeli military’s Al Hamra checkpoint, the Jordan Valley opens into a checkerboard of red soil farms that make up the Palestinian village of Froush Beit Dajan. It is a land under Israeli occupation. But occupation notwithstanding, in early October, an intricate year-long transaction was underway in the village that crosses this stubborn region’s usual ethnic, religious and geographic lines.

Soon after the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashanah, workers in Froush Beit Dajan loaded boxes of young cucumbers with yellow blossoms still attached to their stems into a truck bed shaded by a blue tarp. The cucumbers were destined for Israel, where, to the consternation of some Israeli Jews, they would be sold almost exclusively to the ultra-Orthodox.

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