For 12th-grader Lior Lefeber, water is a tool that brings children together and
urges them to work in unison despite their perceived differences.
counselor in the Haifa Sea Scouts, she often sees younger children objecting at
first to rowing their boats – a sentiment that quickly changes.
know that if they don’t all work together, they won’t go anywhere and they won’t
get to the land,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “They know that they
must row together.”
Lefeber will light one of the 13 torches at Wednesday
night’s annual Independence Day ceremony at Mount Herzl, where this year’s theme
will be “Water – The Source of Life.”
The torch-lighters, who were chosen
by a public committee within the Israel National Ceremony Center, all work in
fields or have initiated projects that touch on that theme, according to Hannah
Hacohen, National Ceremony Center director at the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora
Affairs Ministry, the body responsible for the yearly event.
with reality in Israel as a country that thirsts for water, which is the source
of life, constitutes a symbol of the revival of our people in our land and
symbolizes our ability to succeed in the face of the challenges before us, and
this is through determination, initiative, creativity and faith in the justice
of our cause,” Hacohen said in a statement her office released.
is finishing up her last year at Haifa’s Leo Baeck Education Center, after which
she will enlist in the Naval Officer’s Course in the Israel Navy, a place where
she said she hopes to hone her skills as a leader. But for now, she enjoys
rowing in the Sea Scout boats, which sail twice each week. She particularly
enjoys that the children on the boats are able to learn lessons in teamwork as
well as forge friendships and develop their speaking skills.
specialty of the Sea Scouts is the water,” she said. “This is what connects all
the kids together.”
In addition to Lefeber, 12 other torch-lighters will
take the stage for the Mount Herzl Independence Day ceremony, including Esther
Avraham, a graduate of the Wingate Institute who now works as a hydrotherapist
treating handicapped IDF veterans and civilians. Joining them will be
Maya Braun, a 12th-grade student at the Moshe Sharet School in Netanya who won
first prize – along with partner Avishai Katko – for her project on “Water
Disinfection by Solar Radiation” in the Intel-Israel 15th Annual Young
Scientists Competition in March.
A fourth torch-lighter is Beersheba
Mayor Rubik Danilovich, whose city derives its name from the well Abraham dug
during biblical days. Danilovich will be representing residents of
Beersheba and of other communities in the South, which recently endured rocket
fire attack from Gaza, according to the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Alex Wiznitzer, chairman of the board of the Mekorot National
Water Company, will take the stage for his company, which is celebrating its
75th anniversary this year. A sixth lighter will be Uri Moran, an educator at
the Mossensohn Youth Village in Hod Hasharon, where he teaches students about
water conservation, water recycling and soil preservation.
will be Herzl Naor, a hydrology expert who has been developing water resources
in the Arava Desert for decades.
Moshe Cohen, director of Keren Kayemeth
LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s Project Development Division, will kindle a
torch as well. He has been working with KKL-JNF since 1982 and has overseen the
construction of more than 240 water reservoirs since then. In addition to his
work with reservoirs, he has long been involved with implementing water
purification technologies, restoring streams and preventing soil erosion,
according to KKL-JNF. In order to combat desertification, he leads efforts to
harvest run-off water for use in desert tree-planting.
A ninth lighter,
Shlomo Tzewiler, is a farmer from Hod Hasharon who has introduced water-saving
irrigation methods to his own farm and has taught these strategies to many of
his colleagues, according to the ministry.
Lighter Prof. Emeritus Menahem
Rebhun, meanwhile, is an expert in environmental, water and agricultural
engineering at the Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
where he works on water filtration methods and techniques for improving
An 11th lighter is Dr. Hanna Rosenfeld of the
National Center for Mariculture in Eilat, where she serves as an expert on fish
and marine invertebrate reproductive physiology. A 12th is Giora Shaham, who was
the director of the Re-flooding Project in the Hula Valley from 1994 to
Orit Skutelsky, a doctoral student in ecology and environmental
policy at Tel Aviv University, will join the other 12 lighters on stage,
representing the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) in her
capacity as their water and streams coordinator. She and her colleagues at SPNI
have recently launched a report that calls on the government to take action in
reviving the country’s springs and streams.
“Water as a resource is
changing today because we are not relying on only natural resources, but also on
desalinated water, and that stabilizes the water situation in Israel,” she said.
“Our vision today is that Israel is entering an era of sustainable use of water
resources, and that will eventually lead to the reviving of the streams and the
natural water ecosystems.”
She believes it is “a miracle that so many
people live here in a country that has such limited water resources. But on the
other hand, that means we have to be very smart in the way we use the
In light of this year’s Independence Day theme, Mekorot has
announced that it is opening four of its sites to the public throughout the day
Thursday, free of charge: the Eshkol Site in the Beit Netufa Valley of the Lower
Galilee, the Sapir Station Center on Lake Kinneret, the Granot site near Kiryat
Malachi and the Lahat facility near Karmei Yosef.
To many of the
torch-lighters, lighting a torch at the ceremony goes beyond the valued liquid
“The event itself symbolizes grief and sadness, and this year
it is especially touching because of what happened at the rehearsal,” Skutelsky
said, referring to the lighting rig collapse at Mount Herzl that killed Lt. Hila
Bezaleli. She noted that she was impressed with the way the Public
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry had been coping with the situation
Meanwhile, taking part in the ceremony has a personal connection
“I feel like it’s the closure of a circle,” she said. “First
of all, my grandma survived the Holocaust. My dad participated in a lot
of wars, and my grandpa died during his military service in the [Border Police].
It’s really important to me to stand there and to present for them.”