Daniel Fischel & Sylvia Neil Research & Visitors’ Park

The Daniel Fischel & Sylvia Neil Research & Visitors’ Park is home to the four centers of research at the Arava Institute: the Center for Renewable Energy, the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Center for Transboundary Water Management and the Center for Long-term Sociological and Ecological Research. The park also serves as a living classroom for groups from around the world hosted by the Arava Center for Sustainable Development.

Founded in 2009 through the generosity of Daniel Fischel and Sylvia Neil in memory of Dr. Eugene Fischel and Dina Markowicz, the park has been at the forefront of sustainable development technology and innovation.

Off-grid technology innovations have recently sparked an extensive amount of enthusiasm, curiosity and media coverage. The Off-Grid Technology Village is at the forefront of these innovations with cutting edge research and development of off-grid products and technologies. The village exhibits different styles of inexpensive and rapid deployed structures that are used for research testing and validation, demonstration and showcasing of ecosystems and off grid product solutions for energy, water and agriculture needs. These products could be invaluable to underserviced populations not connected to their national grids.

  • Photovoltaic Cleaning: This study, in cooperation with Boston University and Tel Aviv University is developing technology for the automatic and continuous removal of dust from solar panels and concentrating mirrors without requiring water or moving parts. These methods utilize the electrostatic forces that arise when dust particles are subjected to an electric field.
  • Photovoltaic Cooling: This project, a joint research effort with the German-Jordan University in Ammanstudies passive convection cooling of the photovoltaic panels to propel the rate of heat transfer which will increase the convection and cooling rates of the panels by channeling natural air flow.
  • Biogas Digesters for Bedouin Communities in Israel & Jordan: Funded by the US government through a Middle East Regional Cooperation grant in partnership with the Jordanian National Energy Research Center, this project will provide bio-digester technology to Bedouin communities in the Israeli Negev desert and in northern Jordan to mitigate the animal waste challenge, transforming it from a health hazard into a resource for clean energy.
  • Stand Alone Gray Water Recycling Unit: This research aims to protect freshwater sources through promoting decentralized, low-cost and socially acceptable sanitation treatment of household greywater. Moreover, this project also enhances food security by providing a secondary source of water for farming in the form of treated greywater, which can provide 100% of agricultural water needs for a family of four to six individuals. Operating independently of municipalities and governments, these greywater treatment systems will mitigate public health hazards, environmental degradation and increase agricultural production through improved water security.
  • Methuselah: Methuselah is a date palm that Dr. Elaine Solowey, at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, sprouted from a 2,000 year old date seed. This seed, among others, was found during the excavations of Masada in the mid 1960′s. In 2005, several of these seeds were obtained by the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which gave them to Dr. Solowey. Dr. Solowey successfully germinated one of these seeds, which sprouted into a young date palm. Initially thought to be botanically impossible, this successful project has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic and other publications.

Given the continued success and popularity of the Daniel Fischel & Sylvia Neil Research & Visitors’ Park, the Arava Institute is looking to expand the park’s educational features. These include:

  • The creation of an Amphitheater. This structure will act as an outdoor classroom for students, visitors, and school groups looking to learn more about the projects in the park, regional environmental issues, and the Arava Institute.
  • To further facilitate learning in the park, signs will be posted throughout the park in three languages -English, Hebrew, and Arabic- to help tell the story of each installation.
  • With additional funding, the Arava Institute will incorporate interactive displays which will allow students and visitors to actively participate with solar energy, water desalination, sustainable crops, and insect zoos. As the Arava Institute’s research breaks new ground, innovative projects will be incorporated into the park, giving visitors a first hand look at the vanguard work being done in the field of new energy research.
  • To make the most of these interactive features, the Arava Institute aims to hire a Curriculum Education Consultant who will oversee the programs and park activities. Additionally, this individual will work with guides, leading visitors through the park and Kibbutz Ketura’s high tech environmental industry.

Diane MarkowiczDiane (Dina) Markowicz of blessed memory (1956-1976), was an extraordinary teenager who inspired people of all ages to pursue social justice. The daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors who emigrated to the United States, she was widely recognized at her young age for her advocacy on behalf of human rights, particularly efforts to free imprisoned Jewish and political activists in the former Soviet Union. She was also a passionate defender of animal rights and vegetarianism. In 1975, before she began college, she was selected to participate in a year-long program in Israel for young leaders from all over the world. While in Israel she fell in love with Kibbutz Ketura and planned to make aliyah after college to join her friends and fellow idealists in the Negev.

“Dina was my beloved little sister who lit up our whole family with her vivaciousness, intelligence, warmth and beauty. We dedicate the Arava Research and Visitors Park as a living legacy, where the memory of Dina will continue to inspire forward looking people who are proud of their identities and seek justice and peace for all.” –Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, December 27, 2010

Eugene FischelDr. Eugene Fischel of blessed memory (1910-2001), was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary where he studied in yeshiva and then became a physician and widely published scientist. After escaping to South America on the eve of World War II, he eventually immigrated to the United States where he resumed his medical practice and pursued his lifelong interest in Freud which eventually led him into psychiatry. He was a learned man who read widely and spoke seven languages fluently, But most of all he was a loving and devoted father to me, his one and only child.

“My father’s last request was that he be buried in Israel, a request that tragically was not able to be honored. The dedication of the Arava Research and Visitors Park is an attempt to right this wrong so that his name can live forever in this beautiful and important place in the land of Israel which he would so admire for its unique contribution to science and humanity.” –Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, December 27, 2010