11 December 2018 - 4 Tevet 5779 - ד' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Indonesian students turn to Israel to learn agriculture E-mail

Fifty-two students f rom Eas t Nusa Tenggara in eastern Indonesia recently spent 10 months in Arava, Israel.

At the Arava International Center of Agriculture Training (AICAT), they learned to man­age the dry land to make it fer­tile and productive. Like the soil in Arava, the soil in East Nusa Tenggara is very dry and there is very little water.

As well as agriculture, the students learned about aqua­culture (fishery) in the desert, pests, plant diseases and basic IT skills, under the supervision of mentors and instructors in Is­rael. Joining them on the train­ing programme were students from Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and even Sudan and Ethio­pia.

This new programme was initiated in East Nusa Tenggara by Agus Suherman, an Indo­nesian of Chinese descent and a faithful Catholic with a true love for Israel. His mission is to send as many agriculture stu­dents as possible to Israel, using his own money plus donations from local businessmen.

Each student needs around US$10,000, or 100.000.000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiahs). When I asked him why he wanted to do that, his answer was very much a spiritual re­sponse: “Because God says I [God] will bless Israel. So I just follow what God said; I learned from blessed people.”

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Israeli professor wants to purchase 1.4% of the Earth E-mail

Professor Uri Shanas of the University of Haifa at Oranim has started a campaign to launch an organisation for the conservation of natural species worldwide, and donations have surpassed expectations.

How much would it cost to save the world? As it turns out, not that much. At least that’s what Professor Shanas, who has started a crowd funding proj­ect that aims to preserve the biological diversity in danger of extinction on Earth, believes. In just a few weeks, the profes­sor managed to pass his initial target sum of US$20,000, and donations are still coming in.

Professor Shanas, a faculty member of the Department of Biology and Environment at the University of Haifa, has started an open, democratic, in­ternational “purchasing group” whose entire purpose is to save the planet.

“We don’t have to, and we can’t, defend the Earth at all times,” said Shanas. “But if we can preserve the part that has an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals that are at risk of extinction, we can stop the dis­appearance of species that is happening today.”

Professor Shanas asked for help from the public in raising funds to create an organisation dedicated to the conservation of the world’s species. He said there are already many species of plants and animals in dan­ger of going extinct, with the list only growing with global warming and the continued de­struction of open pastures.

“We don’t always know what the extraction of one spe­cies from the system will do, but there are examples of sys­temic collapse that went so far as to affect mankind that were the result of one species’ extinc­tion. For instance, the extinction of the sea otter in the Pacific Ocean caused a rise in local sea urchin populations, which ate the algae in the area, causing fish populations to starve, caus­ing many fishermen to lose both their livelihood and food sup­ply,” he explained.

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Emotional European Maccabi Games take place in Germany E-mail

The 14th European Maccabi Games took place in Germany for the first time, from 27 July to 5 August. Well over 2,300 Jewish athletes from 36 countries took part. It was Europe’s biggest Jewish sporting event.

The Games, which date back to 1929 and take place once every four years, alternating cities in Europe, are an initiative of the Maccabi World Union (MWU), which promotes amateur sports as a means to bring Jews closer to Judaism and Israel. More commonly known as the “Jewish Olympics”, the Games involve 19 sporting disciplines ranging from football to fencing.

This year, seven decades after the fall of the Nazi regime and half a century since the start of diplomatic relations between Israel and the German Federal Republic, the European Maccabi Games were held in Berlin. In a statement published before the Games, German chancellor Angela Merkel wrote: “In view of the past, Germany may truly be thankful for the restored diversity of Jewish life in our country and for the renewed trust of the guests from abroad.”

The Games’ opening ceremony took place on 28 July in Berlin’s Waldbühne, an amphitheatre built in the 1930s at the request of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The ceremony’s guest of honour was German president Joachim Gauck, who said he was very happy and moved by the fact that Berlin, which once discriminated against and humiliated Jewish athletes, is now hosting a Jewish sporting event.

Some of the most poignant moments as athletes and organisers from the 36 countries stood together in the stadium and sang the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem. The Kaddish, the Memorial Prayer, was recited by the Chief Rabbi of Berlin, Haim Yitshak Ehrenberg, for those who perished during the Holocaust. The climax of the ceremony was the lighting of the Maccabi torch by descendants of the Jewish athletes who 79 years earlier were prevented from taking part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Nancy Glickman, daughter of Marty Glickman, the famous sports broadcaster and Olympic athlete, lit the flame that officially launched the 2015 European Maccabi Games. Glickman senior had travelled to Berlin as part of the 1936 US Olympic relay team but, along with fellow Jewish athlete Sam Stoller, was suddenly replaced at the last minute in a movewidely believed to be an effort to avoid embarrassing Adolf Hitler.

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