November 2020 coronavirus update: Moving forward

Since March this year the Arava Institute has adapted and continued its various operations through changing conditions and regulations in the Middle East, and the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After the successful completion of the Spring 2020 semester, largely held through online classes and small-scale socially distanced campus life activities, we were excited to welcome a new cohort of 35 students and interns for the Fall 2020 program which consists of four intensive accredited two-week courses in multi-disciplinary environmental studies, as well as a rich campus life program including regular dialogue and environmental leadership sessions. While global travel restrictions greatly limited the number of international participants, we are happy to see a program with a majority of native Arabic speakers. All students and interns tested negative for COVID-19 before arrival, and will adhere to current guidelines of the Israeli Ministry of Health and Kibbutz Ketura throughout the program.

We are also now accepting applications for the Spring and Fall 2021 semesters.

During the pandemic, the Arava Institute’s research centers have continued to move forward on several exciting projects:

  • The Center for Transboundary Water Management has been monitoring the presence of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater as a prescreening tool for predicting infection outbreaks in communities.
  • The Center for Sustainable Agriculture saw the harvest of the first batch of dates produced by Hannah, a tree sprouted from a 2,000-year-old date seed, through pollination by our first Ancient Judean Date Palm Methuselah.
  • In July, a third drinking water generator was installed at the Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younes, Gaza, in cooperation with Watergen.

In late October the annual Israel Ride, run by the Arava Institute and Hazon, took place as a week-long virtual event with a variety of interactive online programming sessions, independent riding, and community building activities to echo the meaningful ‘off-the-bike’ experiences of past Israel Rides in a virtual format. Over 200 participants were able to raise $160,000 in donations. Registration for the 2021 Israel Ride is now open!

Throughout the fall, we have also continued to run a number of online webinars and classes, with a second series of mini-classes from Arava Institute staff and faculty members; a webinar on Food, Water and Energy Solutions for Resilience in a Vulnerable World; and an online workshop for young professionals and activists in Israel, during which Parliamentarian aides discussed tools for advancing policy change. The annual Track II Environmental Forum conference is being planned as a webinar on December 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th.

From all of us at the Arava Institute, we extend our well wishes to our supporters and hope that our global community is safe and well. Thank you for your support!