Turning The Environment Into A Jewish Tradition

The Jewish culture is governed by tradition. A newer tradition is for young American Jews to come to Israel to get in touch with their ancient Hebrew roots. Normally they come for about 10 days and visit the obvious sights such as the Dead Sea, the Wailing Wall and Masada. They go back to America with a better understanding of Israel but are not given any information on the country’s environmental challenges and successes. Recently, trip organizers have started offering a flight to Israel with a different spin: an eco-tourism tour. We reported on such a trip last year here and a couple of months ago a new group came to Israel where they learned about issues such as Israel’s polluted Kishon River, the disappearing Dead Sea and were lectured on the many ecological threats that Israel faces. "I was amazed when I saw the trees and forests damaged during the war in the north," 23-year-old University of Madison anthropology and Chinese major Laura Bernstein told ISRAEL21c. "You see huge chunks of forests that are completely destroyed. I would have never imagined that in terms of the impact of a war."

According to 21c:

While in Jerusalem, the group was briefed by the Environmental Ministry's Dr. Yehuda Bar Or on some of the environmental challenges and projects that the government is shepherding - like water technologies, recycling, and desalination. They then traveled to the mineral rich Dead Sea to take a look at the sea's infamous receding shorelines. While there, they were briefed by specialist Yechiam Schlezinger on why the sea is declining by an average one meter (1.1 yards) per year.

"My impression is that in Israel, security has always been number one," participant Bernstein commented. "It overshadows everything. So while I've been here, this has shown me that planning a country without knowing in advance what the environmental impacts will be definitely has its effects."


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