Environment

Sewage row on Tel Aviv's beaches

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

This has been one of the warmest Israeli summers in memory but almost daily, some of the most central beaches on the Mediterranean coast have been closed due to pollution.

So far this year, the Health Ministry has ordered the closure of 15 public beaches due to the excessive amounts of waste and sewage discovered in the water.

Environmentalist groups have accused the local authorities of not investing sufficiently in modernising sewage treatment works, instead relying on pipelines pumping excess sewage into the sea whenever the antiquated systems are close to overflowing.

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Son fights to move mother from Christian cemetery

By Marcus Dysch, July 29, 2010

A bereaved son has described his frustration after an unsuccessful three-year battle to have his mother's body moved from a Christian cemetery to a Jewish resting place.

Eugene Linder's late mother, Biba Skodnik, is buried in Finland. He has pleaded with the country's Prime Minister and President to allow him to reinter her in Switzerland, where his family now lives.

But despite the assistance of London-based Rabbi Aba Dunner of the Conference of European Rabbis, Mr Linder has failed to receive permission from the Finnish authorities to move her.

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New president of League of Jewish Women

By Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2010

The new president of the League of Jewish Women lists her top priority as the organisation's survival over the next 10 years.

Marilyn Brummer, 68, identifies a need for a re-energised membership, but acknowledges that changing women's priorities are making recruitment difficult for a voluntary work organisation.

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Israel’s biblical bees came from Turkey

By Jennifer Lipman, June 8, 2010

Israel has long been known as a land flowing with milk and honey, and now scientists have discovered exactly where the bees came from.

Researchers at the Hebrew University have found that the biblical bees almost certainly came from Turkey and were transferred hundreds of miles to Israel. The findings, the earliest examples of bringing animals such a long way, suggest the ancient Israelites were involved in sophisticated agricultural practices.

In 2007 scientists came across the remains of clay beehives dating back 3000 years in the Jordan Valley.

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Phones recycled in aid of Pesach food parcels

April 1, 2010

The United Synagogue has been helping to turn mobile phones into matzah over Pesach.

Supplementing the US's postal appeal in support of food parcels, the organisation's social arm, Project Chesed, asked people to donate unwanted mobiles to be recycled for cash.

To date, 80 have been handed in, ranging from BlackBerry phones to some chunky relics from the past.

Proceeds contributed towards the distribution of nearly 500 festival parcels to US members struggling to meet the extra cost of Pesach observance.

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David de Rothschild's plastic bottle boat

By Jessica Elgot, February 5, 2010

British environmentalist David de Rothschild is planning to sail the Pacific on a boat made of 12,500 drinks bottles.

Mr de Rothschild, 31, the youngest son of renowned financier Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and part of the de Rothschild banking dynasty, will sail his 60-foot catamaran Plastiki from San Francisco to Australia in March.

Mr de Rothschild, a keen explorer and renewable energy campaigner, will use the voyage as a bold publicity stunt to drawn attention to the waste that plastic creates and how little it is recycled.

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'Ethical' food, not kosher, is priority for US Reform

By Sue Fishkoff, November 26, 2009

For the past few years, the American Reform movement has been edging toward a re-examination of kashrut. Those tentative steps were diverted somewhat at the movement’s biennial convention in Toronto earlier this month.

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Let’s think big. Shabbat can save the planet

April 16, 2009

There is a strong scientific consensus that humanly-caused climate change is real. It is already contributing to flooding in Bangladesh and drought in Mali. Alaskan villagers have become the world’s first climate-change refugees: tragically, they will not be the last. The human and planetary costs of our extravagant behaviour are becoming clearer to us and the prospect is alarming.

Environmental challenges are today at the top of the public policy agenda in most Western countries. But why is environmentalism still a marginal concern in Jewish thought and practice?

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Why the Torah is green

By Rabbi Ariel Abel, February 5, 2009

In February 2008, a fig tree was mauled in Bodh Gaya, India. Allegations focused on a thick branch of the tree that was mysteriously lopped off and sold in Thailand in 2006. The branch reappeared for sale on the black market; accusations of corruption followed. Apparently, police never resolved the case; it was hard to conclude whether the tree had been legitimately pruned, or whether the nefarious activities of the black marketeers were to blame. Nowadays, the tree is surrounded by protective railings.

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Should we pray for rain?

By Rabbi Ariel Abel, October 17, 2008

According to a recent report from Nasa scientists, if current rainy weather patterns continue, we could face worldwide food shortages as a result of widespread ruin of crops. Where does this leave our prayers this year for wind and rain?

The latter half of Succot focuses on water, parties thrown in honour of the festival are called "Water-drawing Simchah" (Simchat Beit Hashoevah) to commemorate water libations in Temple times and the last day of Succot, Hoshana Rabba, is dubbed "Day of Judgment for Water".

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