Ecological village(s) in the
Negev district in IsraŽl.
The population of Israël is increasing rapidly because of a high birth-rate. The everage Israeli woman gives birth to 3(.09) children. There were 196.000 babies born in 5779. Cities as Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem and their surroundings are getting overcrowded. Traffic jams are a big problem in Israel. There is environmental pollution, too much poverty - the gap between the poor and the rich is rising.
The popultion is (CBS Israel, May 2019) 9.021.000 (6.697.0000 jews) million people. By 2050 – if we make it - the forcasts are a rise to between 12.600.000 and 16.000.000 people. Where all this people will live and work?
The solution is new sustainable and 'green' villages or towns should be build in an ecological way in still uncultivated areas. Above all in the Negev.
De Israeli government understands only a sustainable and high-tech economy gives Israel a promising future. Therefore in scientific research there is much attention for a.o. the use of wind- and solar-energy, recycling of waste water and electric cars.
The time is ripe for ecological villages (yishuvim) or towns in the Negev in which new ‘green’firms could establish themselves. This would give an enormous boost to so called new ‘economy of enough' in the world.
As Israeli premier Ben Gurion once said; “the desert should flower again like a rose”. He quoted Isaiah 35:1 “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus”. Amen and amen!
The economy 'of enough'.
My opinion is the current economical system worldwide is bankrupt. In the 'old' economy the 'P' of (fast) Profit was 'number 1' of the three 'P's' (Profit, People, Planet). In the 'new' economy of enough the P of Planet is nr. 1 and the right order should be: Planet (foster!), People (foster!) and Profit (long term strategy). One could read more about the new economy a.o. in books like 'New Economy Business' (2016, Marga Hoek).
We have seen many economic crises in the last 18 years in the Western economies and we have not seen the end of it yet. Ignoring or underestima-ting the seriousness of the situation (o.a. worldwide polution by CO2, NO2, plastics in rivers en sees, nature catastrophes through climate changes) is dumb. Without undertaking radical measures the world economy threatens to collapse through environmental disasters. We see it happen and the only thing clever and wise (young and older) people can do it to start a fundamental 'green' (business) movement worldwide to give counter-pressure. It is 5 minutes AFTER twelve o'clock but most people think we have enough time to change the tide. We talk already about 2050. I hope (and pray) humanity still exist then.despite people like Donald Trump who is a anti sustainability narcissist!
So it is above all time for promotion of well-being (share) in stead of welfare (have). Let's realize it is not important what you 'have' (selfish), but who you 'are' (a good person who shares and cooperates). Particularly the level of prosperity (overconsumption) of the ‘Rich’ should diminish to spare our living (the Earth) for ourselves and the generations to come. Herewith we are a better example for fellowmen who even lack the primary necessities of life like healthy food, clean drinkingwater, clothing, proper shelter and education.
Sustainability, sound production and provision of services and above all micro-credits for new sustainable, green and small businesses belong to well-being not only in Africa and Asia, but also in Europe, America and Israël!
On the basis of the above I believe the development of a network of - Tora based - professional ecological villages (cooperations) or towns in and outside Israël is a fundamental worldwide contribution to this new economy 'of enough'. For me it is also the answer to solve all problems our Planet is dealing with at this moment. Anyway the inhabitans of the villages or towns will work on all of these problems: local, regional, national and international.
Strategy and conditions for the creation of a professional ecological village/town (yishuv) in the Negev.
Every project starts with a dream, an idea worked out on paper. I did. Part of it you will find underneath. Of course there is more. I thought about all the aspects of the yishuv. But they have to be worked out by people (commities) who want to live (and work) in the yishuv. This comes later.
FAQ1. A yishuv/town for how many people?
For About 10.000 housholds/ /25.000 people.
FAQ2. How the yishuv/town will look like?
I have a vision about it, but it has to be worked out by an architect. Maybe by Elias Messinas (zie underneath). Point of attention: the costs of his design. Who is going to pay for it? But….let’s not worry about the money.
After that it is time for more networking and promotion by relevant papers, magazines, radio- and tv-channels. At the same time this is market research. Because is this special yishuv only the dream of Ja’akov Markus or also the hidden one of ten thousands of Israeli’s (sabra’s and import jews)? We will find out soon!
Of course I talked with hundreds of people in and outside of Israel about “my” yishuv/town. Most of them were positive about it. Some we sceptical and a few felt/said I would succeed! I believe this too be’ezrat haShem. With his help and blessings everything is possible.
Concerning promotion: since four months I particpate in the celebration of shabbat in the Chabad Centre in the centre (Albert Cuyp street/- market) of Amsterdam. There are services (mincha/ma’ariev/kabala sjabbat/havdala) and meals. Every shabbat Chabad hosted about a hundred jews from all over the world. Most of them are Israeli’s, but also people from many other countries like USA, France, Italy, Australia, Argentina.So of course I tell people about the yishuv. Tens of them now know about it and among them are potential participants.I hope they spread my message in Israel!
By the way in Holland the yishuv would be a village. But in Israel it would be a town as we talk about 25.000 inhabitants. This I learned from the Israeli’s I met at Chabad’s guesthouse. So “my” yishuv is actually a town. But it should feel like a intimate yishuv. So I will keep calling it a ‘yishuv/town’.
FAQ3. Can you discribe your target audience? Wo do you want to interest for living (and) working in the yishuv?
Of course the first inhabitants of the yishuv have to be pioneers. People who want to create new things, new roads. They are leaders. No followers. No sheep-types.
These pioneers have a vision. They want to make our planet a better place for all. They want to foster it with all the people who are living on it. Everyone deservs a decent life. Characteristed by quality in stead of quantity. How this will be? They set the standard in an professional and ecological community they want to create with orthers with the same drive and vision. To reach the goal they love to work, to cooperate and share with others.
FAQ4. How can entrepreneurs participate in the pre-fase and start-up of the yishuv? (They will have an income challenge I presume).
Good question. That’s why most of the first inhabitants of the yeshiv will be vital elderly (55+?) who will be finacial independent (FA) and who don’t have to worry about their income. But be aware people who live low-budget – like me - can also be FA! But above all who endorse the ‘Golden Rule’ of the yeshuv. More about this rule later.
FAQ5. Is there more to tell about these elderly?
Yes! They are special. Why? It should be people (couples or singles) who actually don’t want to retire. They want to stay an active participant of the working society and tribute in een special way. Maybe fulltime, maybe parttime. They also don’t want to live and die alone in a (big) home where they lived many years for example with their partner and children. They want to live with and work in small groups of like-minded people (40?) in ‘tiny’ homes (appartments) in a ‘community’building. Is this building you will find all kind of facilities – besides he appartements – you will find in a modern retirement home. The size of the interest of these vital and special elderly in Israel will determine the number of communities. The members of each new community will also determine who the building will look like and what you will find inside of it. Of course according certain (building) standards and other regulations.
Healthcare will be one of the most important issues of the communities. To be healthy and how to stay healthy at a high age is a challenge of all members of each community. Some of them will know how but surely others want to be helped. Here are possibilities for many entrepreneurs – new members of the yishuv – to join in. The list of possible business people in relation to health, physical care, (health)food, sport, recreation, study, finance, insurance etc. is endless. Pretty sure your profession fits on the list!
Imagine part of these business people will be family (children) of the elderly. Then not only children but also grandchildren will join the yishuv. Let’s not talk yet about great grandchildren. But here arises the beautifull phenomenon grand families are going to live together and can more easily take care for each other again like in ancient times.
As people of all ages join the yishuv more business oppertunities and facilities (a.o. day-care, schools) arise and are even necessary. Great!
FAQ6. Nice story untill now, but will 10.000 elderly in Israel want to live (and work) in the yishuv in the Negev?
The answer is of course yes. Not only because I believe the yishuv will be realised be’ezrat haShem, but also because the quality of the healthcare of the elderly in Israel will not be (much) better then in Holland. And this means actually ‘BAD’. For some years there is a lot off commotion about this subject in Holland. Many elderly in retirement homes get not enough attention and the quality of the service is bad. The course of events concerning an older family member of mine in such a home is a good example. For a yearly payment of 60.000 euro this person gets no quality food, daily not enough to drink (water), not enough attention and the person is stuffed with medicines to keep this person quiet. Thanks to the intensive additional care of another family member this person is still alive. The other 7 members of her group, who was formated 3 years ago, have already passed away. And form the new members of the group already three died!
This bad healthcare in most of the retirement homes in Holland is the reason why elderly do the outmost to live and die in their own home or want to create their own ‘retirement home’ with like-minded.
Corcerning these new retirement homes a new trend is set in Holland!
It took 5 years to realise the first one in the city Zwolle. It is called ‘Knar-renhof’. It opened in April 2018 and it consists of 40 small houses in a square around a common garden. This first home was like ‘oil on a starting fire’. A second home will be created in the village Zeewolde. The first 20 houses of part I of this home will be ready in the second half of 2020. Another 20 houses of part II of the project will be build after. 11.000 people are now inscribed in 260 townships and in 35 townships the foundation Knarrenhof has done an application for a new home.Wow!
I believe what happenes in Holland will happen in Israel. Certainly be’ezrat haShem!
FAQ7. Imaging also in Israel thousands elderly are enthousiastic about building their one retirment home. How the goverment can be made ent-housiastic too?
Also in Israel a foundation with a board of potential inhabitants of retirement homes in the yishuv (town) has to be created. Investors/businessmen, who subscribe the Golden Rule of the town, would be willing to participate. When this partnership is convinced of her strong redibility she can contact the relevant Ministeriums (a.o. M. of the development of the Negev) with her project plan and ask for cooperation and means to realise the first ecological city in the Negev. This city should become an example for the world com-munity how a dry area (desert) can and should be developed in the next 30 years in a (green) way. So millions of Israeli’s will have a beautifull place to live and they will work together with other people of ecological cities all over the Negev and…….in het rest of the world!
FAQ8. What will the initiators of the ecological city (EC) will asked from the Ministeriums?
Practically a 'sand-box' of about 1.000 hectares in the Negev is namely need-ed for the realisation of a serious yishuv/town. Provided by the 'Ministerium of the Development of the Negev' at a symbolic rent!
The infrastructure (roads, water, electricity (temporary) a.o) of these towns should be provided and funded also by the Israeli authorities. The ecological houses and business accommodations (excluding bunkers) should be indivi-dually financed (private money & mortgages) and - possible - build by the inhabitants/entrepreneurs themselves (as a team). Professional development, building assistance and supervision will be mandatory to realize a beautiful town.
As the Israeli government (ILA) has created 7 towns - and has planned 13 more - for Bedouins in the Negev, why not also give these facilities to well-educated elderly and professional jewish entrepreneurs? The creation of the first professional ecological town would be the start of the necessay urban development of the Negev in a ecological way. It would also be an example of the start of a green economy ‘of enough' in a desert area.
If the authorities refuse to meet the request of the nucleus group it will be a big challenge to 'self finance' a serious yishuv. But let’s not go in to much speculations.
FAQ9: How does the professional ecological town look like?
Before the description of the town (community) it is important to mention the town will not be a 'kibbutz'. JM presumes you know what this is. Also it is not a plane 'moshav' (agricultural and/of horticultural cooperation). It will be a cooperation but there will be all kinds of economic activity as long these activities are according to the 'Golden Rule' (see below) of the cooperation. This kind of cooperation is called in Israel a 'yishuv'. To prevent misunder-standings: in this kind of community every household has to provide for in-come itself to cover the costs of it.
In my recent contact with Israeli’s at the Chabad centre in Amsterdam they made it clear to me that a community on a scale I have in mind is not a yishuv (50 – 300 families) anymore. So in the beginning the community will look like a yishuv but while extending it will become a town. However it is confu-sing, because what Israeli’s call a town is in Holland a village.
The town – so not a yishuv and not a village - for 25.000 inhabitants has the shape of a circle which is dived in a living - and a business area. In between is an hugh earth wall with all kinds of plants and bushes on it. In de middle of this wall there is a passage for traffic by cycle and electric cart.
(Larger) firms, who do not ‘fit’ – because of for example noise - and traffic nuisance - in the residential part of the town, will be established on the busi-ness area of the village. There will also be the place of a shopping-centre (mall). In the town - on strategic spots - there will be room for a.o. a commu-nity centre, an integral health-centre (combination regular and natural hea-ling), a guesthouse, a synagogue/beit hamidrash, schools (for toddlers an children till higher education/university level), a swimming pool, a commu-nity sports, hotel and holiday bungalows to rent. And there will be more.
The scale of the town should give most entrepreneurs the potential to earn a living by the inhabitants of it. The town should have a high rate of self-supply. So car traffic from residents can be reduced. Private car possession will be discouraged because most people will work in de town because of the ecological principle of it. So hardly any forens traffic. The cooperation (!) will have a number of communal electric cars for rent.
In the town is valid a 'Golden Rule': Respect your neighbour, animals, the environment and belongings of others. Our 'Chagamiem' (wise philoso-phers) wrote many books about this topic. It's a 'mitzvah' (commandment) of 'haShem' (G-d)! The life in the town is all about quality (share/spirituality) and not quantity (have/gadegets/status). It is in fact 'tikun olam' (to perfect creation) and the inhabitants of the town should inspire each other and visi-tors of it in this context.
Life in the town should above all be about welfare (to give/to share/personal and spiritual development) and less about materialism (to have/to posses/ /ego/status/power). It is about (again) 'tikun olam' (= further perfection of the Creation) as the Creator teaches us in the Tora (first five books of the Old Testament). Inhabitants, visitors, students/interns etc could stimulate each other in this area.
When time passes by more and more younger adults and children will be inhabitants of the town. Education of children will have the highest attention. They will be educated at home and at shool according the Tora and so in the extension of the 'golden rule' of the community. To keep it short: catchwords in their education will be a.o. love, empathy, sharing and self discipline. One day these children will say goodbye to the community for a shorter or longer periode or forever. Hopefully and be'ezrat Hashem (with the help of G-d) they will be a 'mensch'(good person) and be a role model for other youngsters outside of the community.
The town is connected to a fast area of 500 ha (2 x 2,5 km) intended for a huge forest for recreation and wood production. The trees will be donated by everyone who wants to help to a more healthy atmosphere (CO2-reduction) worldwide. Gradually when the forest grows and grows her positive influence on the surroundings will be noticeable (o.a. humidity of air (climate) and soil). Special means - like the Waterboxx of the Dutch firm Groasis - can cover the seedlings in the first years of their life and will provide them with moisture (no irrigation!) in this desert area. In the longer run the forest will have an important function for recreation, timber production and CO2-reduction/O2-supply.
A brochure will be made where all aspects of the town will be described. On all aspects commission of potential inhabitants of the village will work out the different themes (regulations, conditions of admission, religion, educa-tion, administration, finance, management of the coop, health care, leasure, green affairs, building conditions etc. etc.).
FAQ10: What is done until now?
Ja'akov Markus* (JM) visited Israël many times for shorter and longer periods since September 1978. His first visit lasted 6 weeks. He loves the country and her people. Israel has an spirituality and vivacity you don't experience in Holland. But it is (can be) hot (30 - 40 degrees Celsius) there about 9 months of the year. This asks habituation, adaptation and acceptation.
In June 2009 JM was for the first time in Israel for the promotion of the project. He talked with all kind of people (entrepreneurs, government and civilians) about it. Everybody was enthusiastic about the project. It was heartwarming a young orthodox jew in Jerusalem said to me: "I can see in your eyes you - with the help of G-d - you will succeed!" Amen!
JM made four other short business trips in November 2010, December 2011, April 2012 and November 2013. Again he talked with entrepreneurs, institutions like the (American) Everage Foundation, OR Movement, Aish.com (project Torah's Eco-Felloships), Ministerium of the Development of the Negev, and put a lot of time in a potential place (Har Amasa, a desolated kibbutz in the south of Judea) for the town. One of the inhabitants want to transform the place into an ecological yishuv. Until now without success. By the way the forest (of Yatir) JM dreams of is already there. Most of the Israeli's don't know the biggest forest of Israel is on this spot!
On the way I met interesting people who could be of help to build the town. I consider them as friends. They are:
- Mr. Asi Shalom (Israeli): archaeologist and ecological building expert in the area who could be of great value concerning the building of houses and business facilities. Asi build his own luxury ecological house in Sde Boker. Asi also knows very well how to deal with the 'bureaucratia' of Israël. Asi is the owner of a professional machine that can produce brickes from Negev mud;
- Mr. Shimon ben Dor (Israeli) is an investor and solid entrepreneur in the medical sector and real estate. Pionier of settlements in desert areas. Lives in Kfar Adumim;
- Mr. Elias Messinas (Greek): ecological architect. He was connected to a ecological education centre and kibbutz Kramim with ecological activities. Lives in Jerusalem;
- Anita Tucker (American): experienced entrepreneur and fundraiser. Had a big horticultural firm in Gaza. Is occupied 5 years now with the creation of a new settlement for her community. With sound results! Lives tempory in Ein Tsurim;
- Akiva Wolff (American): environmental expert and teacher at the University of Jerusalem. Lives in Jerusalem;
- Mr. David ben Shabat (Israeli): entrepreneur at Har Amasa. He has an design for a ecological yeshuv (settlement with all kind of business activities);
- Charlie Harary (USA). Vice President of the Residential Operation and Legal Counsil of RXR Reality, a huge Real Estate Company in New York. Charlie is a active volunteer in many community organisations o.a. the Orthodox Union and AishHaTorah. He is an inspired speaker;
- Henk Keune (Dutchman). Trader in biological products. International consultant concerning bakeries (building, management, baking techniques). Henk was for many years the owner and baker of a big biological bakery in Holland. He lives in Utrecht.
- Moshe Flam. Entrepreneur from Beit Shemesh. He knows exact what is happening in Israel in the area of ecological villages. He did an attempt to create one.
FAQ11: Conclusions and how to reach the goal?
After my last trip to Israel in November 2013 I decided to put the project on ‘low profile’. You have to live in Israel to realise it. The only thing I could to in Holland is promotion of my dream in the Negev. So I did. But until know there is not a jew in Holland who said to me “let’s make aliya and do it!”. (Note: there are about 50.000 jews living in Holland and about 60 (most retired people and very young singles) make aliya per year). So I will focus on the jews (sabra’s and ‘import’) living and working in Israel.
In 2014 I draw up a six steps plan to prepare myself on my aliya. To cut my ‘ties’ which connected me to Holland. These were heavy steps.
Step 1: Sell the portfolio of my business. I was a certified mortgage planner. I had a small financial office for private - and small business people since 2001: done 1ste of January 2017;
Step 2: To sell my house in Maarssen (in the centre of Holland): done 1ste of August 2019;
Step 3: To find temporary work to provide income: done 1ste of November 2017;
Step 4: To find a social appartement (to rent) in Amsterdam for a temporary stay: done 25th of April 2018;
Step 5: To finish my giur (religious jewish eduction) in Amsterdam: in 2020.
Step 6: To make aliya (emigration to Israel): in 2020.
This small ‘blueprint’of my life mission would have be much longer if I had told my private connected to my heart’s desire to become orthodox jewish. In brief my late father in law ztl, who was not a jew, told me about jewish religion in 1984 (?). Brought up not relgious as a non jew I felt: this is my believe. I started a halagic life, was sent in the mikwe in Mevo Modiim in 1985 by rav Shlomo Carlebach, who could not find a mohel for me at that time. So I decided to let myself be circumcised in the Jewish Hospital in Amstelveen (NL) in 1986. I become more and more orthodox in the past 34 years. “You are ready for it” a rav in Amsterdam said years agoo. Another rav said not long ago “if the Beit Dien (BD) will not declare you jewish they cannot do it with anybody else anymore”. I have had contact with the BD many time but the communcation is very slow. I have to wait but I want to move on…. Soon!
Shalom we lehitra’ot b’Israel!
Ja'akov Markus - Amsterdam - Holland – November 2019 / Chesjwan 5780
Ja'akov (66) was member of the critical young generation of the seventies in NL. After his horticultural study he became an activist against injustice for 2 years. It was frustrating. So he became a fighter for a healthy world community. He worked on different projects. He first put up a sower dow bread bakery. He was the manager of a new natural health clinic for 4 years in Den Haag. He had different jobs in trade and industry. He was an business advisor since 1995. Entrepreneur and financial advisor from 2001 - January 2017. Former member of the Third Chamber (advice committee on the area of the development of Third World countries of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament). Desired position: developer and coordinator in Israel of a professsional ecological yishuv/town in the Negev.
Ing. Ja'akov (Jaap) Markus Address: Tweede Jacob van Campenstraat 88–1V , 1073 XW Amsterdam. Tel. 0031-(0)6-19962760, e-mail: info@ markustotaaladvies.nl
Special bankaccount for support of the project: NL59 MOYO 0759 4184 62 J.M. Markus. Please mention 'gift Negev ecovillage Israël'. If you donate € 10 or more every year you are a donor of the 'Negev Ecovillage Israël'. We will keep you posted about the developments of the project if you sent us your e-mail address.