The Symposium that Generated Change

The Canadian scientists focused primarily on the application of monitoring and research techniques developed in Israel to the management of huge water reservoirs in Manitoba: first and foremost, to Lake Winnipeg. Topics they wish to cover, using Israeli experience, include the introduction of new technologies to treating organic materials defined as "feed substances" or water nutrients; recycling

January 20, 2010 15:03

WNEW16. (photo credit: KKL)


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The concluding session of the joint symposium on Water, brought out a veritable 'torrent' of ideas by Canadian and Israeli scientists: how to reap the maximum benefit from the current exchange of information and how to develop the partnership in scientific research.

The Canadian scientists focused primarily on the application of monitoring and research techniques developed in to the management of huge water reservoirs in : first and foremost, to . Topics they wish to cover, using Israeli experience, include the introduction of new technologies to treating organic materials defined as "feed substances" or water nutrients; recycling purified sewage waste; water cleansing policies -whether to rid waste water of phosphoric compounds useful to agriculture; establishing a technological database, including data on sewage purification technologies; research on algae and toxic bacteria; and the goals in  treating and preserving the vast Winnipeg lake with the help of  knowledge accumulated from water management techniques applied to the Sea of Galilee.

Dr. Gordon Goldsborough of proposed, contrary to the situation today, that his colleagues examine their attitude to as a source of drinking water. "We never gave thought to the possibility of using its waters for drinking when, like the its saline level is 250 milligrams of salt per liter. Here we learned that it is possible to do this and in my opinion, we have a resource that can be utilized using methods similar to those practiced in ."

Ideas abounded in overlapping fields on exchanging exhibitions on topics such as wetlands that are characteristically similar in both countries; developing the reuse of household "grey waters" or laundry and dishwashing waste waters, with an emphasis on public health. The Canadians expressed a desire to establish an exchange program for young scientists and students, with a view to enhancing the future of this field of research in both countries. "We are the pupils, and you are the teachers," the Canadian scientists summed up.

Two presentations on the subject of water highlighted the concluding session of the symposium that convened in the Dobrovin estate, at Moshav Yesod Hama'ala. The Minister for Water Stewardship of Manitoba, Christine Melnick, concluded that is an amazing country – because of its citizens and because of the Israeli scientists who participated in the first symposium in over a year ago, "who came to teach us new ways of thinking."

Minister Melnick expressed her appreciation for the cooperation established with KKL-JNF to all the symposium organizers in and in . "What concerns me now is how we proceed from here. I intend to discuss this matter with KKL-JNF World Chairman Stenzler. To the Israeli scientists present here I would like to say: what a wonderful partnership we have! I have not seen anything like this in any country. You, here in , are at the forefront of initiative and leaders in your ability to implement."

KKL-JNF Director-General Yael Shaltieli congratulated everyone on the overwhelming success of the symposium. "I heard reactions from our guests to this wholly unique event and I would naturally like to thank the participating scientists and senior KKL-JNF officials for their huge contribution, as well as the organizing team which did a splendid job." In appreciation she awarded a certificate with an inscription from the prestigious KKL‑JNF Golden Book to the two conference heads, one to Christine Melnick and the other to Professor Avital Gasit, academic head and scientific advisor to the Symposium.

We asked several conference participants what the Conference meant to them personally and its significance for the two participating countries.

Mel Lazareck, JNF President in Manitoba replied. "This scientific conference offers KKL-JNF a wonderful opportunity for national and international exposure on contemporary issues of environmental quality. From an historical perspective, Diaspora Jewry imagines KKL-JNF's activities within specific aspects of tree planting and the Blue Box. This image must change."  Lazarick emphasized that recognition for initiating a network of scientific ties between KKL-JNF and the goes to the late President of JNF Manitoba Graham Dickson. "Graham, who died a year ago, maintained a close relationship with senior officials in 's provincial government, from where the relationship between KKL-JNF and the provincial government developed.  is the only province in whose incumbent government has a Minister for water stewardship, Christine Melnick, who participated in all proceedings of this symposium. 

With an eye on the future, Lazarick sees the symposium as an opportunity for broadening ties, "First of all, this is an occasion for KKL-JNF to deepen its science-research partnership but at the same time, a platform is being created to hold conventions and similar scientific relations with other countries and regions experiencing major problems in the field of water."

According to Dr. Gordon Goldsborough: "I don't have enough words to sum up the last two weeks in ."  Dr Goldsboro is a scientist and lecturer at in , who, with his wife came to a week ahead to experience the country. "I climbed the watchtower in in the northern and, as I faced the forest landscape adjoining the dry, unfolding desert, I understood that this is a unique State. We hired a car and toured the whole country and everywhere I looked I came across KKL-JNF's imprint. Before my arrival, I thought KKL-JNF was an organization involved "only" with water reservoirs. I am tremendously impressed by the enormous scope of its ecological involvement and the broad thinking behind the organization's activities.  Before we came, we had fears about the security and even decided not to bring our children. But at no point or place did I feel unsafe. My wife and I were fascinated no less by 's history and nature than by the symposium's whole professional proceedings. I know that we shall take home from our visit a wealth of personal and professional experiences."

Dr. Goldsborough did not disguise his surprise at the Israeli reality, from the first day of the symposium. "I can summarize that this was the most wonderful experience of my life, owing in part to the scientists I met at the symposium and, in part, to the impression Israel left on me – a country where a person can stand in the same places where his forefathers stood 5,000 years ago. I am returning home a different person."

During the professional sessions, Dr. Goldsborough described a practical experiment he performed with his students. "My students consume about of water each day! I asked them, for the purpose of the exercise, to cut their quota of water by half so that they can get used to the idea of using with less. But when I see how a modern, healthy society can live with a daily consumption of of water per person, it becomes clear that we can change our basic thinking from one extreme to the other.

On the last day of the conference, a sunny day at Nahal Alexander Park, as we walked along nurtured paths, we spoke with Mrs. Jenny McKernan who accompanied her husband Michael on his trip to . "This trip simply changed my world. I came to with the general idea we have of the country and the region and I now have to learn to think differently."  Mrs. McKernan summarizes in these sentences the feelings held by most of the Canadian guest scientists from , in relation to 's public image - divorced from its physical and spiritual self.

Her husband Michael McKernan surpasses his wife. MacKedron is an expert in botany and environmental sciences and has been involved in environmental quality sciences for over 30 years. He has directed over 50 projects evaluating various ecological influences on the . "This is a very emotional visit for me, firstly, because was 'merely an idea' and it became clear to me that I had not understood it. During the last two years, in , I was really depressed about the seriousness with which we relate to ecological issues. I saw little hope in this field. But after what I have seen here in , a feeling of hope again is awakening in me that there are other places in this world which show us the way. The work that is done in Israel in the field of ecology, I have not seen anywhere else in the world."

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