Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Passover, Water, and the Generosity of Israel

April 11, 2014 1:29 pm 1 comment
Mekorot, Israel's national water company, operates the Eshkol Central Filtration Plant, in the Galilee. Photo: Mekorot.

Mekorot, Israel's national water company, operates the Eshkol Central Filtration Plant, in the Galilee. Photo: Mekorot.

In a few days, Jews around the world will  gather at their seder tables to celebrate the Passover feast and retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

Not long after the Red Sea parted, the Bible tells us that, with the help of the Almighty, Moses brought forth water from a rock to quench the thirst of the ancient Hebrews. For those who made it to the Promised Land, and the future nation of Israel, the trials encountered during their trek through the wilderness far outnumbered the occasional water crisis.

More than three thousand years later, today’s people of Israel have mastered how to live in harsh desert conditions and now share their technology with the rest of the world. As a result, partnerships have been created in states across the U.S., and in countries with needs as diverse as Rwanda, Cambodia, and Vietnam. These partnerships help transform formerly arid environments into agricultural food centers, produce solar energy power as an alternative to expensive and polluting fossil-fuels, and bring life-saving water to communities in need of fresh supply. To better prepare for the future, last month California Governor Jerry Brown welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Mountain View, California, to sign an agreement to “boost economic, cultural and academic cooperation between California and Israel, with an emphasis on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology.”

Israel’s smart, sustainable water solutions make the most of living off a land where little rain falls. I am proud to say that much of the science that has reshaped the former wilderness has been at the hand of Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its partners around the world.

I often remark that a single drop of water is too precious a commodity to use only once. JNF has been at the forefront of water management and conservation in Israel, increasing the country’s total water supply by 12% and helping Israel become a world leader in water recycling and reuse. More than 77% of the recycled sewage water in Israel is reused, the highest amount in the world. Spain comes in at a distant second at 17%. The United States figures are well under 10%, with most of its recycled wastewater disposed of in streams, seas, or the gutter rather than being reused. JNF’s network of more than 250 recycled water reservoirs provide almost half of the water used for agriculture, saving enough freshwater to meet the drinking needs of 4.4 million Israelis a year.

Today, with the growing threat of climate change, chronic drought and the lack of plentiful water supply for much of the world, the picture is rather daunting. Eighty countries have water issues that threaten health, food production, and economic well-being, while more than 2 billion people have no access to clean drinking water. Population growth of some 80 million people each year further depletes ground and surface water supplies. In Texas, where severe drought has brought parts of the state to its knees, the population is expected to double in the next 50 years with a projected increase in demand for water rising by 22%, while at the same time its groundwater supplies are expected to fall by 30%.

JNF and Israel have become synonymous with successful initiatives that address water quality, trans-boundary challenges, recycling, developing alternative water sources, by using drip irrigation, conservation education, desalination, and stream and aquifer restoration. Happily, Israel is willing to share its technology and research with other nations to truly make the world a better place.

As we prepare to break matzo, pour the four cups of wine, and read of our ancestors departure from slavery in Egypt and of their return to Israel, I wish all those celebrating a very healthy and happy Passover.

Jeffrey E. Levine is president of Jewish National Fund and the owner of Levine Builders, Douglaston Development and Clinton Management in New York City and Hampton Assisted Living in Arizona.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →