Cut & Post
Swell in Cruise-Ship Visits to Israel
Israel is once again on the cruising map, after being shunned for years as an unsafe haven.
“This reminds us of the beautiful years of 1999 and 2000,” said Yehuda Raviv, vice president for marketing and sales at Amiel Tours, one of Israel’s largest tour operators (www.amiel.com). “Now we’re back to normal.”
According to the Israel Tourism Ministry, in 2006, the country had a mere 8,700 cruise-ship visitors. The ministry campaigned vigorously in the United States, and there were large gains in 2007 and 2008. The total for 2009 could be more than 60,000. Last August, the Celebrity Equinox became the largest cruise ship ever to dock in Israel, with 2,850 passengers.
Cruise-ship passengers are a small but important part of the tourism industry, Raviv said. “A person on a cruise who hires a guide and [rents a] car leaves as much money in Israel in a single day as a tourist on a low-end pilgrimage tour leaves in a week.” —Esther Hecht
Giving in Record Time
Even though the recession has taken its toll on Americans’ wallets and spirits, it hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm for volunteering. A 2008 survey from Volunteering in America (www.volunteeringinamerica.gov), the annual governmental trend tracker, revealed that Americans stepped up in record numbers to help the less fortunate. Several key findings include:
- 61.8 million people contributed 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth $162 billion.
- Volunteers were much more likely to contribute to a charitable cause than nonvolunteers, with 78.32 percent giving $25 or more.
- Young-adult volunteering is on the rise: 8.24 million Americans ages 16 to 24 volunteered last year, over 441,000 more than in 2007.
- While the highest volunteer rate is found in the Midwest region, the highest proportion of volunteer fund-raising is in the Northeast.
- Older adults are more likely to volunteer for faith-based organizations; 47 percent of volunteers 65-plus gave their time to a religion-identified group. —Libby Barnea
Sun Comet Sparks Cooperation
Going off-grid is a “green” fantasy for hard-core hippie types. It means disconnecting from the national power supply and living simply––producing one’s own power from wind turbines or solar panels.
But homestead living is no fantasy for Palestinians in Susya, a poor West Bank village south of Mount Hebron. High-voltage power lines swing overhead, but complicated politics prevents the villagers from tapping into the Israeli-generated power. Giving up on politicians, a two-man initiative called COMET (Community, Energy, and Technology in the Midle East) is working to install solar panels in Susya and other Palestinian communities (left).
“The core of our activity is the provision of basic energy services for off-grid communities in a way that is both environmentally and socially sustainable,” said Elad Orian, who cofounded COMET with fellow sabra Noam Dotan.
Cannibalizing neglected infrastructure left by German peace workers 10 years ago, and building new units, too, COMET is bringing light and hope to pockets of Palestinian communities one solar panel at a time. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, one could say that the low-impact Susya homes are light years ahead of the West.
What’s Your Chai Q?
Test your Jewish trivia knowledge with family and friends this Hanukka:
1. According to Genesis 29:9, Jacob first met Rachel
(a) on the mountain
(b) in the woods
(c) at the well
(d) on JDate
2. Kichel is
(a) a kind of kosher pickle
(b) a type of cookie
(c) Israeli money
(d) a rabbi’s robe
Chai Q, a new board game, whose name is a play on words combining the Hebrew chai—life—with IQ, features a Magen David surrounded by a colorful collage of Jewish icons.
“We have designed the Chai Q Jewish Trivia board game to be educational, challenging and fun within families and among friends at home, school, camp or just about anywhere,” says creator Judy Weisberg Thomas. Her sister, artist Rhonda Weisberg, and fellow Atlantan Paul Joffe helped launch Chai Q, which is available at www.chaiqgame.com for $29.95, plus shipping. (Correct answers: c, b) —Ronda Robinson
A Place to Belong, For Life
Kishorit “is the only community of its kind in the world, where members run factories, grow organic grapes, raise goats—and produce a TV show,” says Bernard Dichek. His son, Noam, a writer and movie director, was an original resident of the 150-member northern Israeli kibbutz in 1997 (www.kishorit.org).
What the Dicheks do not mention is that all residents suffer from a mental disability, such as Asperger’s syndrome or schizophrenia.
Recognizing the link between mental health and environmental health, Kishorit founders Yael Shiloh and Shuki Levinger, an artist and social worker respectively, wanted to build a sustainable community based on organic and aesthetic principles. Kibbutz activities include maintaining an organic egg farm that produces over 250,000 eggs per year and breeding prize-winning dogs.
Today, the Kishorit family is diverse and includes not only sabras but olim, Israeli Arabs and Druze. And because members have a home at Kishorit for life—work has begun on housing for seniors—the waiting list is very long. —K.K.
Give (Chick) Peas A Chance
At a time when the humble chickpea is celebrated in brave new hummus flavors (including lemon, red pepper and pine nut) in stores, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Hillel is hosting its third annual Hummus Experience.
Beginning at noon on Thursday, January 28 in Building 10 on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus of the school, teams of students will offer their original recipes in a taste test. You are welcome to cast your vote, too. The event is free and open to the public. Just keep an open mind; last year’s winning flavor, Soy Picante, wooed the judges with a kick of jalapeño pepper.
In addition, not only does local hummus manufacturer Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods send the winning team home with packages of the hummus they concocted, but the MIT Hillel is supplied with enough of the winning recipe to feed hungry students at Friday night dinners for months.
Want to learn more? Contact Eliad Shmuel at 617-253-2982 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Deborah Fineblum Raub