Day School Scientists Solve Israel’s Problems


Israel may not be ready to wash its dirty laundry in public, but a local day school has some ideas for cleaning up the wastewater.

With the level of the Sea of Galilee — Israel’s major freshwater source — steadily declining, a prestigious science competition there is this year asking for new ways to treat washing machines’ “gray water.” A greater supply of safely recycled water that is fit for drinking or watering crops means less demand on the Kinneret, as the Sea of Galilee is known in Israel.

An eight-student team from the Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy, part of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, N.J., recently was named one of two American semifinalists in the Gildor Project for Excellence in Science, and will compete in the final round of the international competition in Jerusalem in early July.

The annual Israeli competition, funded by the Colorado-based Catherine and Ephraim Gildor Foundation, is under the auspices of Israel’s Society for Excellence through Education. It was expanded three years ago, with the support of the Gruss Foundation’s Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, to include Jewish schools in the United States.

Every year the competition chooses a different theme to address a problem faced by Israeli society.

Vying with about 10 Israeli schools, the Teitz delegation will explain how its innovative filtering system, better suited for homes than for factories or large institutions, can turn used washing machine water, which usually goes into the sewer system, into water for a family’s garden, says Aryeh Snyder, co-captain of the Teitz science team. “It probably will be good for drinking, also.”

Snyder, a sophomore at the school who lives on Staten Island (and the brother of Jewish Week Staff Writer Tamar Snyder), says the Teitz students came up with the “ionic exchange resin” filter, which is connected to a washing machine’s water pipes and housed in a six-foot-high sealed container, after testing several filtering methods.

The filter system will cost $50-$100, and replacement filters will be about $10, says Snyder, who hopes to become a biochemist. If the filter is successfully developed and marketed in Israel, he says, it may become as common in Israeli homes as solar heating panels.

“It will help the Kinneret,” Snyder says. “People won’t have to [waste] as much water.”

He and most of his fellow students, accompanied by two Teitz faculty members, will be going to Israel for the first time.

The other U.S. entrant in the Gildor finals is the San Diego Jewish Academy.

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