Director’s Blog: February 2014

In addition to the events described below, the Arava Institute hosted the Minister of the Interior, MK Gideon Sa’ar and his wife Geula Evan, introducing them to the work of the institute and to our students.  The Arava Center for Sustainable Development hosted a group of 25 participants from 6 countries in Africa for an Alternative Energy Seminar as part of a Center for International Agricultural Development (CINADCO), a program of the Ministry of Agriculture.  On February 14th, 13 members of the Israeli Public Council for the Arava Institute gathered at the offices of Public Council Member, Elah Alkalai at the Shalom Tower to discuss the goals and programs of the Arava Institute and the strategic plans for the Council for 2014.   The meeting set the direction for the new Public Council this year whose goals are to raise money and awareness about the institute.  Enjoy this month’s Blog.  David Lehrer

Minister for Environmental Protection visits Greywater System

Minister of Environment pic, Feb 12The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation is currently funding the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM). CTWM’s grant, Mitigating Trans-boundary Wastewater Conflict, is aiding in reducing wastewater pollution while increasing water supply to households and communities not connected to a sewage network. CTWM has recently constructed a system in the Al Sanabel, school in the Bedouin village of Umm Batin in the northern Negev. On February 11th, 2014, The Minister for Environmental Protection, Amir Peretz, visited the village and school, and was given a presentation of CTWM’s greywater recycling system. With words of encouragement and support, Peretz’s visited was warmly welcomed by the community and the Arava Institute. Since its inauguration, teachers have been trained to instruct students and the rest of the community about wastewater recycling and reuse, and will use the system as an education tool for environmental protection. Submitted by Natasha Westheimer

Spring 2014 Orientation


From February 11 until February 16, Spring 2014 orientation schedule was filled with many exciting community building activities. Every morning, energetic students would start their day with power yoga. The Campus Life Team organized activities for all the students, interns, and staff to participate and enjoy, including hospitality circles where students and staff had a chance to meet and get to know each other. In the spirit of community, returning students lead sessions on shared spaces and environmental activism on campus. In the evenings the students enjoyed a salsa class, ice cream sundaes, bonfire music sessions and art circles. During the day, the students met with the Academic staff and registered for classes. Each student is expected to take 4 to 5 classes in addition to participating in the Peace Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar (PELS) This semester’s courses include new courses such as Environmental Conflict or Cooperation?  The Politics and Economics of Trans-border Environmental Issues and Small Scale Farming in Arid Lands (training Middle Eastern students to volunteer in the developing world).  For the full list of courses for this semester go to Course List. The week ended with a field trip to nearby Timna Valley Park where students and interns rode their bikes through the ancient copper mining field.  In just 5 days of busy orientation events, the Campus Life Team set the stage for our new community of enthusiastic future environmental leaders. Submitted by Aviva Gottesman and Yelena Galperina

Ambassadors of Finland and Estonia visit the Arava Institute


The Ambassador of Finland Mrs. Leena-Kaisa Mikkola and the Ambassador of Estonia Mrs. Malle Talvet-Mustonen visited the Arava Institute on Wednesday February 26. The two ambassadors were greeted by the Executive Director, David Lehrer and Mr. Shmuel Willner, who is a Resident Scholar from Finland. The visit included meeting the students and staff, a tour of Kibbutz Ketura and the experimental orchards where Dr. Elaine Solowey lead the ambassadors to the exiting world of sustainable agriculture. The visit was successful in building future partnerships with both Finland and Estonia. Submitted by Shmuel Willner

Arava Institute Welcomes New Staff:

Micha Eshchar the New Manager of the  Daniel Fischel and Sylvia Neil Research and Visitors Park


As a Water Engineer who specializes in water quality processes, Micha has worked on the implementation of advanced technology for water treatment, including drinking water, sewage, wastewater of various purification levels, irrigation water, runoff, surface and ground water.  Micha has  introduced personnel from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environmental Protection to technologies and treatment processes in order to receive permits for the release of water into the drinking grid and to operate treatment facilities.  Micha will now oversee the operations of the Arava Institute’s Research and Visitor’s Park, supervising ongoing experiments, testing solar and water technologies and making the  the park more accessible and educational for visitors.

Tamara Rejwan, Alumni Coordinator


Tamara  worked for the Arava Institute  in 2007-2008 as the Student Life Coordinator, and the institute is very pleased to have her back. Her background is multi-disciplinary, spanning over 15 years of work experience including as a Computer Consultant in her native Montreal, Canada and  working for the Canadian Jewish Appeal.  Since her arrival in Israel 6 years ago, she has been committed to using her experience and skills to follow her passion for renewable energy, working in Operations at BrightSource and at the Arava Power Company.  As Alumni Coordinator, Tamara is responsible for organizing and updating the alumni data base, developing communication tools for alumni in new social media platforms,  providing alumni services and support for alumni activities including the Annual Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN) Conference scheduled for May 22nd – 24th in Madaba Jordan.

Arava Institute Visiting Researcher Profile: Michael Gilmont


The first week of February, the Arava Institute had a visit from researcher, Michael Gilmont who was part of the EU COST conference in January. Michael is currently collaborating with Dr. Clive Lipchin at the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management. During his stay, Michael researched the Water Footprint of Solar Energy, as well as worked on trends in agricultural production in Jordan and Egypt. In 2013, Michael finished his PhD in Geography from Kings College in London. Michael’s recent research article “Decoupling dependence on natural water: reflexivity in the regulation and allocation of water in Israel”, was published by the Journal of Water Policy in February 2014. Michael will be visiting the Arava Institute again in March. Submitted by Yelena Galperina


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The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Kibbutz Ketura
D.N. Hevel Eilot 88840, Israel 
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EMAIL info@arava.org

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