It seems that Friday’s come round quicker every week! So here is this week’s Good News Friday installment.
We’ll start with water, or rather, the lack of it. As we know, Israel has overcome its water shortage with recycling and desalination, and now Israeli technology is going to help the US cope with its worst drought in 500 years (via No Camels):
On his visit to California last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown to, among other things, export Israeli water technology to California to help the state better cope with drought. “Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Brown. Of the seven areas the agreement specifies for cooperation, water conservation and management is listed first.
What does Israel know about water technology that could now help California? For one, it’s not facing a water shortage, as a little-noticed news release by Israel’s Water Authority revealed several weeks ago – despite the driest winter in decades. With winter almost over and no substantial precipitation falling since December’s snowstorm, Israelis should by rights be facing a major water crisis. But thanks to good planning of the water economy – including use of desalinated and recycled water – the country’s natural water stores, such as Lake Kinneret are, if not full, at least in good enough shape to last until next winter without falling to dangerously low levels.
The agreement signed by Netanyahu and Brown will expand cooperation on water technology that already began several years ago. In San Diego, Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE) is building the largest desalination plant ever to be built in the United States – indeed, in the Western Hemisphere. When it is completed in 2016, the plant will produce up to 54 million gallons of fresh water per day.
Read about all the other American states that have signed agreements with assorted Israeli water companies. Kol hakavod to Israel’s water conservation industry for securing our future, enabling us, a desert country, to export water technology to countries usually blessed with ample water. It’s nothing short of miraculous when you stop to think about it.
From one liquid to another, the next item is about beer. The arid Negev region has produced a brewery for specialist beers:
The makers of a fruity-smelling pale ale in southern Israel joke that you have to pay 2,000 shekels just to try it.The Negev Brewery, tucked away in the town of Kiryat Gat, recently began making Negev Beresheet Desert Beer; but, it’s only available to guests of the swanky Beresheet Hotel in Mizpe Ramon. So if you’re willing to shell out $500 a night, you’ll get a taste.
Not to worry, though. The brewery has other beers as well — ones anyone can buy.
Negev Brewery, which started out as a home-brewing project dreamed up by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev graduate Yochai Kudler, has been open for several years. In addition to the hotel exclusive and several seasonal brews, the brewery offers four beers that are always available: Amber Ale, Oasis, Passion Fruit Ale and Oak Porter. They range in taste from the light, orangey flavor of the Oasis beer, which recently replaced the Amber Ale as the most popular choice, to the porter’s darker earthiness. The passion fruit beer is the only one its makers know of in Israel that features the easily found local fruit.
As with the people of Israel, the country’s beer is a blend of different cultures, brewery employees said. It’s not as aggressive as American beer and not as sweet as European beer.
As much as possible, the brewer supports the Negev region, using local products and suppliers and asking brewers to live in the Negev area.
And they’re willing to do so, including Sary Diab, who left behind a position with an online casino customer relations company in northern Israel to move to the area and work as a brewer at the Negev Brewery; he said he likes the family atmosphere that comes with a small company.
He started out brewing as a hobby and has been paid for it for about a year. That’s what he likes about it, he says.
“What I’m doing is a hobby,” he said. “It’s cool. It’s beer.”
I’ll drink to that! 🙂 Kol Hakavod to all the entrepreneurs and brewers at Negev Brewery. We wish you the best of luck and will have a Le’chaim on your behalf!
From the material to the spiritual, the next item concerns Shabbat itself. The city of Tel Aviv is attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the largest Shabbat dinner, with 1,000 or more attendees:
The city of Tel Aviv will host a Shabbat dinner that is expected to set a Guinness-certified world record for the largest Shabbat dinner in modern history if 1,000 Jews attend the Friday night event in June, to be held at Hangar 11, in the Tel Aviv Port.
The event will be hosted by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Israel’s former chief rabbi, and other leading figures in Tel Aviv life. It is being sponsored by City of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Hangar 11, Golan Heights Winery, NakedSea Salt, and UK Toremet, plus public donations to raise the $25,000 needed to cover the cost of the meal. The dinner is free for all attendees.
The project is being organized by White City Shabbat, a group of local Tel Aviv residents who organize large Shabbat dinners in Israel’s “White City.” The group is led by Eytan White and Deborah Danan, who told The Algemeiner the story behind the audacious plan.
“To be honest, finding people to come isn’t a problem – finding money is another story,” she said, noting the event is being fully sponsored by individuals who donate via its crowdfunding campaign. “Every meal we host has over 200 people in attendance and another hundred on a waiting list so I think we’re going to go way over the 1,000 people mark.”
Danan said the idea was to draw attention to Tel Aviv “as the best place for young Jews to be in today and, more than that, to restore the beauty of Shabbat in what is primarily known as Israel’s secular city.”
Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, who is supporting the record attempt and made a video to promote it, said the city founders, including it’s first mayor Meir Dizengoff, understood the sanctity of Shabbat in Jewish tradition and emphasized it as being a symbol of solidarity for the Jewish people.
“We’re absolutely hoping that other communities around the world will try to break the record set by White City Shabbat. In fact, my dream is that within six months White City Shabbat has to give up the title because some far flung Jewish enclave went ahead and broke it,” Danan said. “White City Shabbat has restored the beauty of Shabbat to many people’s lives in an open and inclusive way and we’re hoping that communities will mimic our success.”
“Shabbat is the cornerstone of our faith, and when you have hundreds of Jews from all different walks of life in one room, the unity is palpable,” Danan continued. “At each of our monthly meals we attract Americans, Israelis, Brits, South Africans, French, Italians, – who are secular, religious and everything in between – and the one thing connecting them all is the desire to be with other Jews on the holiest day of the week.”
Danan said the concept of ‘Shabbat in Tel Aviv’ may “seem like an oxymoron, but of course it isn’t.”
“I recall being shocked at just how many Shabbat activities there were in Tel Aviv, more so than even Jerusalem it seemed! I think, though, my favorite part of Shabbat in Tel Aviv – apart from our magnificent White City Shabbat dinners of course – is walking to synagogue on Shabbat morning,” she said.
“Suddenly the shul-going denizens of Tel Aviv come out from the woodwork – and sometimes they’re the people that you would least expect to attend prayers. They look you in the eye as you pass them in the street and wish you a Shabbat Shalom. That’s a rarity in Israel, especially in the cities, so the fact that it happens davka in Tel Aviv – the ostensible secular city – makes me proud to live here.”
Danan said attendees at the record setting attempt will run the gamut: “It’s like a tapestry of our people – we’ll have Holocaust survivors, olim [Jews who make aliyah to move to Israel], Israelis, secular, religious, members of Knesset, chief rabbis, mayors and truck-drivers all in one room, united by this gift of Shabbat that we all share.”
What a fantastic idea! Tel Aviv is so renowned for its secular character; how wonderful to promote its Jewish character and the beautiful spirit of a true Shabbat. Kol hakavod to Eytan White and Deborah Danan for their initiative. Even if the dinner does not make it to the record books, it would be great if this Shabbat dinner would become a regular fixture in Tel Aviv’s calendar.
The project reminds me of the Shabbos Project, initiated and promoted by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. Watch his video:
And from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we conclude with the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. The song has gained something of a cult following around the world, with different cities and organizations using it to highlight their work.
But there is only one Jerusalem, and here is Jerusalem’s “Happy” video. You can admire the beautiful views of Jerusalem in the background, and dance along – with the Mayor of Jerusalem himself – to the most catchy bouncy song I’ve heard in a long time. Just listening to it makes me smile. Watch, sing and enjoy!
Shabbat Shalom everyone!