Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Gap Year in Israel by aklionsky

As December 31st approaches and the first of my college applications is officially due, I’m beginning to browse through another set of applications and supplements: the ones for Israel gap-year programs.

I’ve been told over and over again that “You’re never as free as  you are before college. During college there are classes, then there’s internships and jobs, and then maybe grad school, and then jobs, and a family, and kids… and it becomes harder and harder to pick up and travel.”

So I’m going to Israel next year. I haven’t decided yet which program/s to apply for. There are a lot of great ones out there, some affiliated with each movement of Judaism, others pluralistic, some specifically designed with social justice in mind, others for nature lovers, some for studying, others for volunteering, some for musicians, others for dancers, some for five months, some for ten, some for just Americans, some for people from all over the world.

The internet is probably the most fantastic resource for finding a program that’s good for you, and the Masa organization offers scholarships for many of the programs it advertises.

I want a program that allows me to live like Israelis: speaking Hebrew, making friends, meeting kids, going to museums. But I also want to learn. I want to travel. I want to gain a firsthand experience of what it would be like to be seventeen-going-on-eighteen year old living in Israel.

Check it out some programs, but do it soon. Bring up the idea with your parents (you can even play the maturity card: You’ll be living on your own thousands of miles away for a while year, making decisions and friends… it will give you a step ahead of your classmates freshman year of college, when they’re just starting to hold those responsibilities).


~Planting Your Trees (A little late) by shaynaschor
December 15, 2008, 6:05 pm
Filed under: religion, science/nature | Tags: , , ,


If you made a donation to the Jewish National Fund in the past year, you may have received a notice thanking you for your donation, but explaining that no trees would be planted in Israel or abroad for the year; 5768 was a shmita year. In different aspects of our Jewish lives, many of us have come across the concept of shmita, or the Sabbatical Year for the land. In the context in which I learned it, I thought it had marginal relevance to my life. I studied it biblically; I learned that in the Torah, God commands us: “For six years you shall sow your fields and for six years you shall prune your vines and you shall gather in their produce.  And in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord” (Leviticus 25). I remember thinking: I have no fields to sow, no vines to prune, no produce to gather, so why should I care? And, more importantly, why is the practice still alive today? Isn’t it impractical, counter-productive and tremendously risky for Jewish and Israeli farmers to take a break from production for a year? I could not understand.

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~Greening Israel by ozniablog
March 31, 2008, 3:32 am
Filed under: science/nature | Tags:


Israel has always been one step ahead of the technological world; from the contemporary communication of IMing and text messaging to the life saving radiation-free cancer devices, Israeli scientists have been at the top of their class for the past sixty years. It is, then, no surprise that they have come through yet again in developing methods of sustainability, with plans of action that are essential for our modern world. Realizing the immanent threat of climate change and the immense effect our actions have on the environment,Israel has become a leading force in the worldwide efforts to achieve eco-friendliness and partnership with the earth. A team from the Israeli Institute of Technology is working on the efficiency of non-polluting powered cars. More than 85% of the country’s waste is treated in an environmentally sound way. Israel has the highest number of solar power heaters per capita. An Israeli company was the first to install a large-scale solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. These are just a few of Israel’s many eco-accomplishments to date, and, make no mistake, they are just beginning; plans of the world’s largest solar power plant to be built in the Negev as well as tax breaks for residents of “green buildings” suggest their best efforts are yet to come.

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~Airport Security, The Israel Way by jpachefsky
March 13, 2008, 3:46 am
Filed under: arts/culture, politics, science/nature | Tags:

What does airport security mean to you?

If you’re flying domestic, security may be taking off your shoes, putting anything you might own through the x-ray machine (your laptop in a separate bin of course), and maybe a TSA agent will check your boarding pass as you exit the metal detector. If you’re flying international, you need to show your passport in addition to all of these security measures. However, if you are flying to or from Israel on El Al, security has a whole new meaning.

Because of the threat of terrorism, El Al takes extreme security measures. Ranging from questioning the airlines passengers, and reinforced steel floors to anti aircraft missile systems on every flight – El Al’s version of security is completely different than Americans are used to experiencing. On top of that, The airline is so efficient and secure that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ranks El Al in the top three efficient airlines of the world.

El Al has also played an important role in Israeli history and culture. From 1950 to 1956, the airline brought 160,000 immigrants as from Yemen, Iran, and India as part of Operation Magic Carpet and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. 40 years later, one El Al 747 carried 1,087 passengers from Ethiopia to Israel as part of Operation Solomon.

~Israel Waves Goodbye to Fossil Fuel by a1iyaht0541
March 3, 2008, 10:56 pm
Filed under: science/nature | Tags: , , , ,

For a country that’s 1/19th the size of California, Israel has certainly outdone itself in every field of technology: standing third in line with its 75 companies listed on the Nasdaq worth over $60 billion, developing the cell-phone through “Motorola Israel,” designing the Intel Pentium MMX Chip technology, voice mail technology and AOL’s instant message program! Israel -considered mainly desert- was the only country to come into this century with a net gain of trees, and has begun to simulate human intelligence through organic memory chips in an effort to make computers “think creatively.” Last year alone, American companies invested over $6 billion in this tiny Middle-East country.

But, as recognized worldwide, “green energy” and global warming are all the rage these days, and it’s no surprise that Israel already has its hands filled with this energy saving topic. Israel has been working for decades to provide the US with alternative energy, creating nine solar plants in California, eliminating the need for 2 million barrels of oil each year, and currently working in Nevada to build the largest solar power plant since ‘92.

And now, just over a month ago, with the recognition of the global threat that the car consumption of oil poses, Israeli entrepreneurs Shai Agassi and Idan Ofer have begun working on “Project Better Place,” which will address the global dependence on foreign oil and lessen health and environmental damages. They have decided to create an electric car enterprise, which, working hand in hand with Renault-Nissan will provide consumers with inexpensive cars which can be paid for by a monthly fee for mileage. But, it is not the car design that is new. Rather, it’s what Agassi and Ofer have designed in order to charge these vehicles: to seed the earth with a grid of stations which will conveniently charge the lithium-ion batteries that drive these cars. The Israeli duo have already begun to target major oil consuming countries such as China and India, in an effort to rid the world of the largest financier of terror.

~Israel Reaches for the Stars and Discovers New Ones by nachman18
February 29, 2008, 6:00 pm
Filed under: science/nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the past decade, 10 new solar systems, besides the one we live in, have been discovered. Recently, this number was increased by one when Israeli astronomers from Tel Aviv University’s Wise Observatory at Mitzpe Ramon assisted in finding a new solar system.


The new solar system closely resembles ours, in that it includes planets of relatively close weights to ours, spread out in a similar way to ours. However, the newly discovered solar system has a central star about one-half the size of ours, and several planets one-half the size of their corresponding planets from our solar system.

Past solar systems have been discovered by measuring their central stars’ “wobbly paths,” which are caused by the surrounding planets’ gravitational pulls. However, this new solar system was located using a technique related to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Scientists were able to use planets’ mass as a magnification device to follow far-away light sources.

The finding was first reported about in Science, a major science journal.