Experience #21 - Israel



I’ve always wanted to go to Israel as I like a lot everything that’s different and of course this land has very keen particularities, especially regarding religion and its consequent misunderstandings.


During the first days we had the opportunity to live a piece of culture of this region, the kibbutz. They’ve started in the beginning of the previous century when the land was still Palestine. The name kibbutz refers to Jew agricultural communities that live collectively from the soil and therefore sharing the income from it among the families. They also utilize concepts like mutual responsibility and a conscious commitment. We can say they have similarities with the concept of ecovillages, we just couldn’t feel a spirituality concern. There, became a great concentration of people who are more conscious about the nature’s might and its limitations.


This way of life grew so much that today there are more than 200 kibbutzes and as the years passed by different models of community were developed. Sadly, following the global trend, many of them have surrendered themselves to the individuality and gave up on a few rules like shared income…


We went to the Kibbutz Lotan in Eilat, by the extreme south of Israel, bordering Jordan and Egypt. Besides feeling and learning how to be more careful with the environment in the day to day, we joined a group of youngsters in an agriculture course. Open minds with who we’ve identified ourselves and exchanged many ideas. We even had the privilege to present, for the first time, the learning of Think Twice Brasil until then. We felt honoured by their interest and the lovely attention they gave us.


All the details about the collective work and conscious way of living are inspiring. Starting from the eco dorms built with straw bale to the usage of solar power and biogas made from organic residue. I love these inventions that have the objective of preserving the world while there is no waste. If we think about the importance of it it’s quite obvious, but unfortunately it’s still not fashion…


I used to admire this type of construction but I finally learned how to do it in practice. The first undeniable benefit is that they are almost 100% made of renewable materials, the main one is the natural straw bale from grains. More incredible is that you can still find it for a symbolic price, even for free, as they are usually useless for farming. Unfortunately some of them get to the point of burning them after the harvest, as it’s the easiest way to get rid of them, even aware of its negative effects to the biodiversity.



It’s worth noting that as there is no solid demand, the price is fair and nature thanks. However as the market develops I’m sure that prices will go up, as our economic law orders to be able to gain more money every time an opportunity comes up. Doesn’t it seems contradictory to think that as the construction sector becomes more conscious and sustainable with more people building with this technique, it will be more expensive and discourage people to build more? Money money money…

The second main material is clay, that mixed with send and water gets thicker to the ideal point in order to protect the bale and seal the house. The following most used materials are sticks made of bamboo or wood to fix the bales and wood for the structure, roof, door and windows. Do you want a more renewable building than this one? I’m smiling while I write this.


To contest in advance a mistaken myth, when building correctly the straw bale offers no risk at all to burn. To prove this, several tests were done with flames reaching the clay walls for more than three hours without catching fire. We also need to dismiss any architectural prejudice, as it’s possible to make houses just like the ones with any other material, it just depends on creativity and time to do it.


The most impressive natural benefit of this technique is that these materials working together have an unbeatable capacity of thermal isolation. This means that every 1 degree Celsius that the external temperature changes only 0.1 degree is transmitted to the interior. This is what instigated my admiration the most because I could feel this impressive heat contrast in houses in Kenya and Oman, built with this method. Even in a very hot day the house interior was quite fresh. It’s important to mention that beyond the material provenience, this quality can save a lot of energy from air conditioner, fan and heater.


Thrilling, at least for me!



It’s worth another caveat regarding saving, as I’ve heard absurd comments about waste of energy. Many people still associate this saving to the money the individual wouldn’t spend in the bill, but please, we have to spread that we are talking about wasting less intelligence and time. In order to have energy that is more productive, cheaper and accessible to everyone we must improve its usage also, not only its generation. We just have to remember the blackouts we had in Brazil, which still exist in many countries like in Zimbabwe, where we just had electricity for half a day, when we were there.


If we keep on going in the pace that we are, throughout the years energy and water will be more and more expensive and the disadvantaged ones will be negatively affected, obviously, for having less money to pay. The inequality would explode even more… But so far, for who doesn’t understand this problematic, it’s worth maintaining “avoid waste = more money in the pocket”.


Back to the kibbutz, the innovations didn’t stop there. They also use a washing machine that works with bicycle pedals, an oven that uses mirrors to retain the heat from the sun and the amazing parabolic shape that concentrates the sunlight in a single spot generating the same temperature as a stove. Certainly its desert location with no much rain improves the efficacy of those.



We were very lucky as for the few days we’ve been there we were part of the classes led by Chaym Feldman who knows a lot about agro ecology. One more step to learn so many theories about organic agriculture. It was two intense days of field work and notes. The most marvellous of these teachings was to understand even more how the nature integrates on its own and that trusting her is enough. The labour we do to generate more food for all only requires respect and comprehending laws of nature.


Dear Mark, Mike, Michal and everyone else part of the course, thank you so much for sharing knowledge!



Going back to Tel Aviv-Jerusalem area, we had the privilege to welcome and live the following days there with the shinning visit of my parents and Gabi’s mom. They made this part of the trip even funnier! Thanks family!


Caring about the collective, we surrendered ourselves to the intensive tourism that was pleasant and a big contrast after six months travelling in a simpler mode… As we’ve mentioned before, we don’t have much touristic interest for where we pass by due to many reasons, but it’s always worth to know, of course.


Even being Buddhist-catholic, I didn’t have a great curiosity to see specifically the historic places of Jerusalem, as I have my doubts to believe everything that is said and taken as truth… Anyway, we visited most of them and it was valuable to remember what the different sacred books tell and what the religions preach. I have an immense difficulty to accept what we allow to rule our life, without even questioning, knowing why and agreeing.


The first impact was that despite the lands so called sacred are geographically inside the country with Jew majority, there is a sparse domain of religions, like the Muslim, Christian and orthodox. Also of nationalities, such as Palestinians, Armenians, Ethiopians, Russians and others. The most intriguing is that in a few protected places anyone can enter and in others only certain religion practitioners. The famous logic out of nowhere…


Summarizing, I confess it was a bit confusing to understand all the details about what it is today and impossible to memorize all the motives from the past that justify the laws of the present. It was clear I should have done the catechesis again before going…


Independently from these factors, living in the country is very expensive, as I’ve heard before. Tourism is gigantic there, what implicates in certain traditional rascality to extort as much money as possible from foreigners. It’s not a prejudice as, for instance, two times I’ve checked the lunch bill there were incorrect additional values. By complaining the manager just did that “aaah, ok” and gave the money back…


The most disrespectful negotiation I’ve faced in the whole trip, perhaps in life, happened there. For the sum of disrespect, ignorance and futility… In the Old Jerusalem market, in the middle of the bargain the old salesman got to its minimum price. Then, in a sudden morose outbreak he started saying that the products were of really better quality and he sells in that value because he just drinks a certain beverage and drives a particular car. Referring to an expensive whiskey brand and a very expensive car… And meaning it… Imagine my reaction? Luckily I was not armed (since I was born) and we just left the store with kind words feeling ashamed for himself, but it was fine. I preferred not to even look at his face, as I don’t know what I would have done besides sending a kiss. I’m still shocked today…



It might be a cause of the protective awareness they’ve been growing since they started owning this land in 1948. We’ve seen armed youngsters from the army with a machine gun everywhere and in the south we heard jet fighters flying in training every day. The whole population is required to join the army by the age of 18 or just after school, boys for three years and girls for two. Naturally that scheme of exemption that many have in Brazil doesn’t exist. But the aspiration to be a military is totally different there, we heard more than one case of Jew youngsters from other countries that moved to Israel just to join the military service. I totally respect, as each one with his own choices, but it’s a fact that this worship could be for peace instead of preparing for the combat.


Learning is a constant evolution and everyone has his weaknesses, but it seems that pride and power keep on blinding us from the instinct of right or wrong. With all my positive thinking I’ll always maintain my wishes for a peaceful solution among the countries there.


Well, I really wanted to go there and certainly it was worthwhile, if not I would be in an eternal doubt. Let’s celebrate the differences and it’s not up to us to judge them. Just as I meditate to love everyone equally, I wish them, the people around and throughout the world the same. The only humble tip I can give is to forget the pride, the past, forgive yourself and others. Only the future is about to come and only love does good. We all know…


Felipe.