Saturday, October 31, 2009

SeGen Underwater Technology

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Israeli company, SeaGen, has developed a new solution to storing Liquefied Petroleum Gas in a manner that is far safer and environmentally friendly then the current steel storehouses that line the shores of many of the world’s port cities.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), refers to the gaseous liquids that are produced when processing natural gas and crude oil. The two main commercial bi-products are propane and butane. Propane and butane are widely used in fuels for certain types of ovens, grills, heating systems and vehicles.

Forty percent of the world’s consumption of LPG, about 100 million tons per year, is currently being stored in 16,000 storage sites throughout the world. These areas are considered increasingly vulnerable to accidents and attacks. Most storage units are near residential areas where any mishap has the potential to create mass human casualties in addition to devastating ecological damages.

Many companies are increasing security for their storage facilities to prevent possible terrorist attacks as well as investing in technologies to prevent accidental explosions. Land LPG storage devices are particularly dangerous because the liquefied petroleum gas is stored at a pressure much greater than that of the surrounding air.

Based on the use of underwater hydrostatic pressure, SeaGen Systems has developed an innovative underwater LPG storage terminal that maintains the gas in its liquefied form in a uniquely developed “smart” container system. The underwater system not only helps eliminate risks, but it is based on clean technology. Many of the existing storage units are old and rusting and often leak significant amounts of Petrolium which increase the risk of explosions during the transferring of LPG to carrier vehicles.

CEO of SeaGen, Ofir Sarid, claims that with the SeaGen solution, the gas stored off shore and under the water “has no chance of explosion.” Sarid explains, “If you have a spark around [a land] site there can be explosions and dead people… under water, there is no pressure difference between inside the tanks and underwater so no explosion could be possible.”

If a leak would occur, the gasses would simply bubble to the surface where they would simply be released into the air. Also, underwater smart tanks would be much more difficult to find and sabotage making the Sea Gen underwater storage devices a win-win product for both environmentalists and security forces.

Another attractive advantage to the underwater storage devices is the potential to free-up large plots of real-estate currently dedicated to storing LPG. Sarid claims that SeaGen will enable municipalities in most of the western countries to clear their shorelines of unsightly stainless steel storage devices and open the areas for real-estate investment.

SeaGen is privately owned and operates under the “Yozmot HaEmek” technological incubator. SeaGen is in the process of obtaining the necessary permits for its new installations and hopes to begin setting up its pilot site for an LPG underwater storage farm off the coast of Israel by the end of the year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

SAWA: Empowering the Bedouin Women

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

According to a report from Israel 21C, hundreds of Bedouin women are becoming self-employed entrepreneurs thanks to Chagit Rubinstein and her SAWA microfinance program in Israel. Rubinstein is a native Israeli with a dream to empower the poorest populations in Israel. Microfinance is the practice of providing small loans to low-income populations to help them engage in productive activities.

Rubinstein was a Fulbright Scholar and earned her MBA in France before moving to the US to study microfinance at the American University in Washington, DC. After learning all the ins and outs of microfinance, Rubinstein returned to Israel to fulfill her goal of providing financial assistance to low-income woman with the desire to own their own business.

Once back in Israel, Rubinstein quickly formed SAWA, the country's only micro-credit program. SAWA, which means “together” in Arabic, provides collateral-free group loans. The 1,000th small-business loan was just granted to a woman with a dream to start her own sheep dairy. SAWA is funded by KIEDF, or the Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, a non-profit established in 1994.

Over 1 million dollars has been lent to 60 women through small grants of 1-2,000 dollars. Since its inception, only 2.6% of the loans have defaulted, which is far below the worldwide microlending average of 5%.

Many women in the Bedouin communities are lining up to receive loans; however it wasn't always like that. Rubinstein met with much suspicion in the early days. She faced two major obstacles: the concept of interest and a deep set gender bias. The former was much easier to overcome then the latter. Most Muslims believe that charging interest is against their religious system. Rubinstein simply eliminated the interest and instead charges a fixed participation fee.

Overcoming the gender stereotype took a little more effort. Bedouin communities are proudly male-dominant and require every woman to have the approval and support of a father, brother, husband, or son to engage in any activity. Rubinstein finds that most Arab men are, at least initially, very closed to the idea of women entrepreneurs. “Men are usually skeptical and don't believe their women can really do something profitable,” says Rubinstein.

To help bridge the cultural divide, Rubinstein recruited the help of Nuzha el-Huzail, a Bedouin woman and social worker with a PhD from Ben-Gurion University. Even with the help of el-Huzail, Rubinstein admits that it took time to earn their trust. After five months of meetings, they got a dozen people to give the program a try and from there things began to blossom.

SAWA is changing attitudes," el-Huzail says. Many women are fulfilling their dreams and brining much needed financial assistance to their families. Rubinstein is thrilled by the success of SAWA and hopes that in the near future she will be able to expand the project to other disadvantaged populations, including Ethiopian immigrants.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Feasting Around the World

First published by the
  Jerusalem Post Christian Edition-October 2009

Feasting Around the World
-by Kasey Barr

Across the globe – in Chatsworth, England; Panajachel, Guatemala; Devenport, Tasmania; Hyderabad, India; Melbourne, Florida, and hundreds of other locations – Christians are gearing up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in a town near you.

Jerusalem is of course the most coveted location for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been sponsoring a week-long spectacular there each year since its inception in September 1980. That ground-breaking celebration quickly grew into Israel’s largest annual tourist event, with more than 5,000 Christian regularly attending, coming from over 100 nations of the globe.

The success of that event appears to have spawned a growing number of Feast gatherings worldwide that today involve tens of thousands of Christian celebrants, some of whom may never have the privilege of pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

“Being in the body of Christ... enables us to experience the Feast of Tabernacles in unity, harmony and joy as if we were all at one site,” said Ryan Denee of the Restored Church of God, which will be holding a Sukkot gathering again this year.

“Due to the socio-political situation in Honduras, we are not going to be able to attend this year’s Feast in Jerusalem,” said Fabiola Radriguez de Vieytez of Honduras, who has missed only two Feasts in Jerusalem since 1984. “But we think that is it important to never forget the faithfulness of our God, through every situation that we pass in our lives and we will be celebrating the Feast locally with Pastor Evelio Reyes of Vida Abundante [Abundant Life] in Tegucigalpa,” she recently told The Christian Edition.

How many feasts will there be this year? According the Web site, there are at least 200 public Christian celebrations of the Feast in nearly 100 different countries spanning the breadth of the globe. This statistic represents only organized events that have been widely advertised. The number of locations is likely much greater when one includes informal celebrations and unpublicized observances by churches and ministries throughout the world.

FeastGoer is a Web venture dedicated to connecting Christians with biblical Feast celebrations in their respective areas. They state that they “believe the God-given feasts are entirely relevant to the Christian today and teach so much about God and Jesus Christ that they cannot be overlooked and relegated to the past.”

But for centuries of Christian history, that is exactly what happened. Both the Old and New Testaments reveal the Feast of Tabernacles as a corporate celebration. However, in the Fourth Century, when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he forced both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus to give up any ties with Judaism, Jewish practices and the Hebrew calendar under the threat of imprisonment or death. All of the biblical holidays and feasts were either replaced by separate holidays or rejected entirely.

Over the ensuing centuries, Christians drifted further and further from their Hebraic roots to the point that contemporary Christianity had lost touch with the Biblical feasts that Jesus himself had faithfully observed.

It was in the 19th century that certain Christian leaders were moved by a deep desire to reconnect to Israel and in fact they had a great impact upon Zionism. In the US, Protestant minister William E. Blackstone circulated a petition in 1892 to urge the US to reestablish a Jewish state in Palestine. Meanwhile in Europe, Rev. William Hechler, chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna, became a close friend of Theodore Herzl, the father of the modern Zionist movement. With the establishment of the state of Israel, Christians began looking at Biblical references to Israel more practically, including the Divine call to keep the appointed feasts “forever, throughout the generations” (Leviticus 23:41).

For example, noted writer Basilea Schlink, co-founder of the Evangelical order of the Sisters of Mary, arranged to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in 1946 with local Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in her hometown of Darmstadt, Germany. But the practice did not become a mainstream Christian event until the early 1980s when the Christian Embassy began hosting their international Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.

Since its inception in 1980, the ICEJ has faithfully encouraged pilgrims from all nations to join them in Jerusalem to celebrate the biblical feast of the Ingathering. This is in anticipation of the prophecy spoken of in Zechariah 14:16 that all the nations will one day come up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

This event has become the signal Christian Zionist gathering in Israel each year, and what began in Jerusalem 30 years ago has now spread throughout the world. The ICEJ’s Feasts have always featured not only strong biblical messages on Israel and the Church, but also Hebraic worship, Davidic dance, artistic banners and other innovations that have now been duplicated far and wide.

“It's really not a tourist event. It is indeed a celebration of God's love, an expression of the diverse and united Kingdom of God, and a statement of God's faithfulness to Israel,” said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the ICEJ.

It is true that there is no other site like Jerusalem, yet the message of Sukkot reverberates across borders and continents, demonstrating that no matter where Christians are located, they indeed share the same inspirations.

Vieytez says what she enjoys most is the Communion services conducted at the Feast celebrations in Jerusalem and now in her native Honduras. “We have the opportunity to share in unity no matter our language, or race, or anything else,” she said.

“A corporate celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is an acknowledgment that all of us together represent the 'tabernacle of God' among men,” said Pastor Bob Summerville of Hunstville, Alabama, who has a long-time teaching ministry on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and conducts observances of  Jewish festivals for Christians.

“God gave the holidays for His purpose, to both Jews and Gentiles, to help us see God and understand His plan of redemption,” said Joan Lipis, author of the new book, Celebrate Jesus: A Christian Perspective of the Biblical Feasts ( She will be touring the US over the High Holy Days to encourage people to celebrate the festivals of Israel in order to better understand Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Lipis told The Christian Edition that in the past, she tried to spend every Feast in Israel, but now wishes to share the message of the feasts with the world in their own area and with respect to their own cultures and traditions. This year she will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles in Portland, Oregon.

“When we come together to celebrate the Feast in our different cultures and different traditions but according to God’s calendar, we are demonstrating to the world, and the powers and the principalities, our diversity yet unity in the one new man, Christ Jesus,” said Lipis, just as the prophet Nehemiah wrote that “all the people assembled as one man” at Sukkot. Thus for Christians around the world, it should be a natural step to assemble as one body in observance of the Feast, she said.

In her book Lipis explains, “The Kingdom community consists of people of every tribe, nation, and language. Like the Word of God itself, the Kingdom transcends any one culture. We are enriched as we share our various styles of worship and celebration.”

Sukkot, Tabernacles, Booths – the very name of the celebration represents the command to the ancient Israelites to build “temporary dwellings” to commemorate their times of wandering in the Wilderness, dependent on God for their daily sustenance and waiting to enter the Promised Land. For Christians today this expectation has again become very relevant, as they come together in anticipation of the day prophesied by Zechariah when all the nations will come up to Jerusalem and worship the Lord.

Even as thousands of Christians attend the Feast celebrations in Jerusalem this year, tens of thousands more will be gathering in locations throughout the world to join in this time of rejoicing in God’s faithfulness. They will be dancing to their own rhythms and singing and teaching in their own languages, but also worshiping with one heart and thereby demonstrating that the message of Sukkot is not lost in translation, but rather proven by it.

# 1 by ICEJ
# 2 from the cover of the Celebrate Jesus

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tires of the Negev

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Not many people would connect the Negev desert of Israel to the production of snow tires; however one of the materials used to give tires more traction in cold temperatures comes directly from the southern sands of Israel.

Silica, or silicon dioxide, has become a standard element in the manufacturing of tires to provide better traction and breaking ability, especially in snow-tires. Michelin Tire director Parmeet Grover, praised silica for three significant benefits: Grover claims the substance provides pliability in cold temperatures when rubber without silica begins to stiffen and become more hazardous. He explains that it also improves fuel economy by reducing the tires’ rolling resistance and is proven to make tires last longer and wear better.

Silica is the most abundant mineral in soil. Besides tires, it is used to manufacture several common and widely used products such of glass, computer chips, and concrete, just to name a few. It is found in sand and quartz throughout the world, but the Silica found in the Negev has a unique property not found in any other location.

According to a report from Israel21C, Ronen Peled, CEO of Dimona Silica Industries recently discovered that he can produce Silica from porcellanite, a substance considered to be a waste material left over from Israel’s phosphate mining industry. Putting waste to work is highly valued in today’s green economy, yet the scientists at Dimona Silica Industries (DSI), discovered another environmental fact that is expected to make Israel’s silica the desire of the international market.

In order to use silica in production, it must be heated to 1,500 degrees centigrade when it becomes a liquid that can be mixed and formed to create the many items we use today. A team at DSI discovered that the porcellanite from the Negev can yield liquid silica when heated to just 90 degrees centigrade.

This discovery makes Negev silica not only cheaper to produce but also a “green” product because it requires far less energy to produce. DSI plans to focus their market on the tire industry where they believe they can have the greatest impact.

“Many jurisdictions today require that at least a portion of every tire sold be made out of recycled or recyclable materials because tire production is known to be one of the biggest industrial polluters,” says Peled. DSI has spent the last decade acquiring patents, developing the right technology and passing regulatory requirements and is now ready to go to market. Israel has issued the company the rights to convert porcellannite in the Negev to Silica for the next 50 years. With this exclusivity, DSI felt confident to build its new facility where they have plans to employ 400 workers making it the largest employer in the Negev region.

Ready to produce green technology and green jobs, Dimona Silica Industries, is a name to watch.

With a cheaper, more environmentally friendly product, DSI hopes to become a powerful player in the world’s tire market, as well as a major force in strengthening the economy of Israel.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Anti-Cancer Vitamin

Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Could preventing cancer be as simple as taking your daily vitamins? Dr. Fuad Fares, and Arab-Israeli scientist, believes he is very close to producing an anti-cancer daily supplement. Fares has spend years studying ancient herbal treatments and his latest research is revealing what he believes is a plant with a new family of antioxidants powerful enough to reduce and even prevent the development of cancer cells.

Dr. Fares recently published results from his experiments, conducted at the Carmel Medical Center at the University of Haifa lab, which demonstrate that the unnamed plant compound has indeed stopped prostate and colon cancer in mice as well as in human cancer cells in vitro.

Dr. Fares injected a crude extract of the plant into a test group of mice as a preventative medicine before introducing them with cancer. Of those given the plan injection, 80% were able to fight off cancer as compared to only 20% of the mice not given the herbal extract. Fares proceeded with a second test which demonstrated that the mice infected with cancer, who were given daily doses of the plan extract, were able to reduce the tumors by 70 to 80%.

Similar tests were executed on human cancer cells in vitro with the same dramatic results. "Just used as an extract it seems to be effective," says Fares, who is currently working on purifying the substance which may lead to even more startling results and quite possibly a medical breakthrough.

Numerous scientific studies prove that antioxidants, such as lycopene found in tomatoes, fight free radicals that lead to cancer. However, Fares' mystery plant with its supposed new family of antioxidants, may actually be able to prevent and reverse the disease that is affecting such a large percentage of the world's population.

According to Cancer Research UK, overall cancer rates have increased by one quarter since 1975. Each year 10.9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer and each year an astounding 6.7 million die from the disease. Statistics reveal that more than 1 in 3 people will develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime.

For the many people suffering with the disease, Dr. Fares' herbal remedy brings hope that future cancer treatments will no longer include intensive and intrusive procedures such as chemotherapy and radio frequency, but could quite possibly be as simple as a supplement.

Dr. Fares is also director of Modigene, a company he created while doing postdoctoral work at Washington University. He will soon apply for a patent, and if his compound is determined to be unique, he will reveal the name of the plant and begin producing and marketing the wonder herb.

Dr. Fares remains tight lipped about the name of his herb, but he does disclose one fact, it grows in Israel. If Fares' research is verified, accepted and marketed many people throughout the world will have yet another reason to refer to Israel as the land of miracles.
Writen for Front Page Jerusalem: Listen online: