August 1-17, 2011 -- Despite processing pig meat and performing medical research on swine, Kibbutz Lahav in southern Israel doesn't use hog manure as a renewable energy resource to power up the place. Not yet at least. Lahav does however use solar water heaters to power homes and buildings. In fact, over 90% of Israeli homes have solar water heaters on their rooftops thanks to a 1980 law passed by the Knesset mandating that all new residential units install solar water heaters.
And since the price of gasoline in Israel is so high -- $8.33 U.S. dollars per gallon or 30.24 Israeli New Shekels (ILS) per gallon as of May -- many kibbutzniks do not own cars and instead rely on the public bus or private shuttle to make trips to nearby Beersheba.
Bicycles, motorized scooters and electric carts are popular modes of transportation around Lahav. We borrowed some bikes one Shabbat Saturday for a ride around Lahav Forest -- a man-made national park that surrounds Kibbutz Lahav. The towering pine trees of the Lahav Forest are an impressive site to see considering before 1952 the area was a desolated desert outpost. It is a living legacy to the vision and hard work the early Zionist pioneers put in to "making the desert bloom." The green revolution is nothing new to Israelis. They have been planting trees since 1948. The cultivation of the country comes from the prophet Isaiah's biblical passage that "the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom."
Kibbutz Lahav must have a buy American clause when it comes to purchasing cars because I saw more Fords and Chevrolets there than in my entire trip around Europe. The American auto industry was recently brought back from the dead and is experiencing what is hoped to be a real revival with smaller fuel efficient and electric vehicles. It was encouraging to see that at least in Israel, people are buying American automobiles.
Click here for more observations of Kibbutz Lahav on Josh's Travel Blog.
Here are more photos from Kibbutz Lahav. Click here to see the set on Flickr.