News Highlights February 2010


The First 100 years

During Succoth 2009 Kibbutz Degania, the first kibbutz in Israel, starting planning for the centenary celebrations. The year 2010 is the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the first kibbutz in Israel.

Several events and activities will be held throughout Israel to celebrate this very important milestone.

The various celebrations will bring esteem to the more than 250 kibbutzim spread out throughout Israel.


The Right to Vote

The Israeli Government is pushing for a law that would permit Israelis living abroad to cast their votes overseas.

At present Israelis who live abroad have to come to Israel to cast their votes, which prevents nearly ten percent of all Israelis from participating in the voting process and in determining Israel's future.

It has been argued by some that many of the world's great democracies allow their overseas residents to cast their votes in their country of residence, while Israel continues to deny its own citizens the right to vote in this way.

Many others have argued that Israel's situation is unique and complicated and only those who have to bear the security, social and economic burdens of the country should be allowed to vote.

The Kibbutz Movement has come out against allowing Israeli nationals living abroad the right to cast their votes in their country of residence. The General Secretary of the Kibbutz Movement stated that encouragement of Aliyah has been at center of Israeli policy for more than sixty years and allowing Israelis living abroad to vote in their country of resident encourages those who leave the country and is contrary to the whole concept of encouraging Jews to live in Israel.


Restoration of Maimonides Synagogue

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has recently completed the restoration of the Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (The Rambam) Synagogue in Cairo. The restored Synagogue is built on the spot where The Rambam prayed more than eight hundred years ago.

The Egyptian Government spent approximately two million dollars on the restoration which was done entirely by Egyptians. No outside authorities were allowed to participate in the actual work of the project.

The rededication ceremony will be attended by dignitaries from around the world.

The Egyptians have plans to restore another nine of Cairo's ancient Synagogues. They consider the synagogues and ancient Torah scrolls as part of their own heritage.

Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (The Rambam) is considered as one of the most famous Rabbi's in history. His contribution to Jewish religion is significant as witnessed by his Mishneh Torah (a written version of the oral laws especially those of the Halacha) which is a major work of study for scholars of The Talmud.


Memorial to Red Army

During his visit to Moscow, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced at a meeting with Russia's Prime Minister Putin that Israel would build a memorial honoring The Red Army of The former Soviet Union for its significant contribution to the defeat of the Nazi war machine.

The Russian government has been increasingly concerned that its role in the conflict with Nazi Germany has not been sufficiently recognized. Putin reiterated that millions of Russians lost their lives together with millions of Jews.

In a goodwill gesture the Sergey Courtyard in Jerusalem has been transferred to Russian ownership after the Kremlin claimed that it was illegally acquired by Israel after the end of The British Mandate.


Regional Cooperation

After years of discussion three municipalities have come together and signed an agreement to establish an industrial area that will serve the many Jewish and Arab communities who live along the green line in the Wadi Ara region. The project includes several kibbutzim in the region.

The complex will be managed jointly by the three local authorities and income received from rates and taxes will be divided proportionately by those municipalities.

The industrial area will be built on an area of 600 dunam in the Megiddo Municipality and is expected to ease the severe unemployment in the area.

Several businesses will be relocated to the new site.


The Kibbutz National Survey

The annual survey of kibbutzim revealed that about 50% of kibbutz members would recommend membership for young candidates. In contrast only 25% said that they would not recommend kibbutz life.

The survey revealed that 85% of kibbutz members believe that the kibbutz provides better educational benefits and options than the standard government offers. Also 78% of the members believe that they receive greater health benefits than those provided by the state.


Global Warming – Coral Reefs

The European Research Council has awarded a grant of $4million to an Israeli expert (a former member of a kibbutz) on world coral reefs. The grant is for research into the effects of global warming on the world's coral reefs and it is hoped that data from the research of the Mediterranean non reef producing corals and Red Sea reef producing corals will throw some light on the reasons for coral reefs dying all over the world.

Coral reefs are an essential part of the marine life in the oceans and a major imbalance could cause a marine catastrophe in the oceans. Coral reefs are often compared to tropical jungle forests and the balance required for these throughout the world.


Israeli Dairies – Robotics

The government has severely curtailed the availability of foreign laborers and this has caused Israeli dairies to look towards robotics for handling the herds.

According to research that has been carried out the cost of introducing robots will not increase the costs of the current advanced automated dairies and will in fact save some labor costs.

There are already 50 robots operating in Israel successfully and the objective is to expand this to include many of Israel's approximately 1,000 dairies. Israel has 120,000 milking cows covering 165 cooperative dairies including kibbutzim and about 800 independent dairies.

The data received thus far indicates that the productivity of the robots is higher than that of imported foreign labor and the accuracy is higher as the robots are programmed for maximum efficiency.

 Overseas readers are invited to provide us with feedback regarding our monthly news bulletins.