Women with appliances 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As we leave the introspective holiday period, we begin a new year, a new cycle.
The Torah begins anew with Genesis, which is read this Shabbat. It is there that
one finds the precept that man was given the planet to “work it and preserve
it,” a mantra cited by many Jewish environmentalists as the origin of
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Looking backward at past “environmental sins” yields
little toward improving those problems that plague day-to-day life in this
country. Looking forward, there are many ways ordinary citizens can contribute
to conserving precious resources like water and electricity and reducing
pollution, merely by refraining from certain behaviors. It is easy to shrug off
environmental responsibility and blame “big industry” for polluting the air we
breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on. That may be true to some
extent, but every individual can make a difference.
The holidays provide
timely illustrations of some of these easy steps. It is not big industry that is
careless with fire along hiking trails, thus damaging hundreds of dunams of land
– as happened over Succot at the Hatzbani nature reserve in the North. Big
industry doesn’t leave its trash behind after a day at a national park or the
Yom Kippur in Israel provides an environmental phenomenon not
found anywhere else in the world. Air pollution readings drop to near zero for
that one day of the year when all factories and cars take a break. Obviously, it
is impossible to maintain that level of inactivity, but it does provide food for
thought. Using public transportation more, and walking or biking more, can make
a significant difference. Car pooling with colleagues takes cars off the road,
ON SHMINI Atzeret, we begin to include the phrase “He who makes the
wind blow and the rain fall” in our prayers, and we continue to do so
Pessah. As our ancestors who lived here thousands of years ago
Israel is part of one of the most arid regions on earth. So the rabbis
a prayer asking for a good rainy season that is as applicable today as
was. Forecasters are particularly concerned about the coming
Water always comes out of the tap here in Israel, but there is
precious little of it in this region. And while the government is now
the desalination plants that should help alleviate the situation in a
that solution has been left unconscionably late, and the public has a
to play in preserving depleted natural water sources.
consumer of clean water is not agriculture and not industry – it is the
of the public. Warning children not to drink too much is silly; taking a
five-minute shower instead of a 10- minute one can add up to a real
The proof of the public’s power lies in the fact that a
series of water conservation campaigns have proved wildly effective,
household use by 10-15 percent each time. Now, the Water Authority is
effort one step further. By providing water saving devices for faucets,
to cut overall use by the equivalent of a quarter of the production of a
desalination plant. A tiny device; a major saving.
festival of Succot invokes a more humble, simpler life. One where the
electricity- powered gadgets that run our world take a back seat to
at the stars through a ceiling of palms. It’s a good time to reflect
electricity generation is expensive and polluting and not always as
benign as we
might want to believe.
Urgent calls this summer for Israelis to refrain
from using electrical appliances during peak hours underline how hard we
pushing our generating capacity, and how important responsible
become to preventing power outages.
Turning off the lights in a room that
is not being used, turning off a computer at the end of the workday –
actions that take only a moment – but that reduce the drain on Israel’s
overstretched power generation infrastructure.
AS WE look ahead to
another year of activity, it’s important to remember that what we don’t
sometimes be more important than what we do.
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