Saturday, September 24, 2011 – Day 6

City tour of Warshaw

Today is the Shabbat, so we will have a walking tour of the city center in order not to use the busses as much as we can. We walk through the city into the city center, the old part of Warshaw.

We are inside the Ghetto, looking at the wall of the Ghetto. This is the last house that was left from the original Ghetto:

3 weeks after the beginning of the war, Poland is no longer independent, it is taken by the Germans and will stay under Foregin control till the 90’s. Polish army had no chance fighting against the Germans, they tried to fight tanks and army with horses. The first Ghetto is build, Ghett Petrokov (Rabbi Israel Lao, who used to be the chief Rabbi of Israel, came from that Ghetto). Before the war there were around 350,000 Jews in Warshaw, most of them left Warsaw, rest are sent into the Ghetto, the wall is built and all these Jews are forced to live very crowded inside the walls.

Watch the movie “the pianist”, about life in the Ghetto in Warshaw. This will give you an idea of how life use to be inside the Ghetto, how the Jews lived in Warshaw before the war and how life changed for them, it will make you understand the tragedy.

The Ghetto is closed at 1940, it has 174 streets in it, but is keeps around 450,000 Jews now, with refugees from all over the area. The entire Ghetto is only 2.4% of the entire city, but the Jews here are 30% of the total population – very crowded, with no green areas at all at the Ghetto. Streets in the Ghetto are very small, very crowded, one-way only, hunger, crime, dirty, poverty, those are the conditions in the Ghetto.

Just to give the idea of hunger, people lived in the Ghetto on 187 calories per day, normal people need between 2000 to 3000 calories per day, specially if they are active or if it is cold. There was food that could be bought, but there was no money. There was a very developed black market for goods and food, but people couldn’t afford it. With all the difficulties around people tried their best to keep normal life, they had weddings, they loved, they red books and kept cultural life, they tried to stay human beings. There was a children hospital there, where Janush Kortzak worked, built from donations of Jews from the community. After he finished there, Janush went to open homes for orphan children. This hospital had a research on hunger, which was accepted as an academic research and is still used until today. Unfortunately the reason why this was such a reliable and accurate research was that they used real people who were starving from hunger, who can think that the results of this research are not true given the place and time it was taken?

July 1942 Jews from here are deported to the camps in the east. Germans always used Judaism to fight against Judaism, so they used meaningful Jewish dates to start deportation, this deportation took place on the 9th of the Hebrew month of AV, the day of the destruction of the temple and a very sad day in Jewish history.

Part of the wall that went around the Ghetto survived:

Passing the house of Y. L. Peretz, a famous Jewish writer:

The children’s hospital:

This is the hospital from the inside. This is the closest you can get to imagine life inside the Ghetto, this house looks the same as it did before, including the original wall which is part of the entrance gate

This was part of the original gate, we can see here the original brick wall ant the base of the gate in these days. We have a photo with a body of a dead person in the street of the Ghetto, you see this gate base clearly in that photo.

Another original part of these streets:

This is another house from the period of the Ghetto

Same house from the other side:

We are in the square where the Jewish synagogue is, the Nozuk. This is part of what used to be the “small Ghetoo” in Warshaw. Today this is the center of Jewish life in Poland, including Israelis who are part of the diplomatic corps. In Warshaw now there are around 400 Jews. Lots of the Jewish restoration is thanks to Ron Lauder. He started sponsoring Jewish life here, rebuilding buildings and that even brings polish people to discover their Judaism and convert back to Judaism. Many of these people were taken from their parents and put with polish families, they grew up as non-Jews and now they come back to their original religion.

Church of the convertors in the midst of the small Ghetto. Some Jews changed their religion, but these new Christians were still considered Jews by the new anti semitism, since for Natzism this was a matter of race and not of religion:

The statue of the previous pope John paul the 2nd. You can see him everywhere in Poland:

Synagogue in the Ghetto, the Nozuk synagogue. There were 5 big synagogues and many more smaller synagogues. This is the only one that survived the holocaust:

Synagogue is build by Pinchas Nozuk, a reach man who had no children and donated at 1902 money to build this. It was active till the beginning of the war. Building was renovated at 2008 by the Warshaw municipal government office and the Jewish community. During the war the synagogue was robbed and the Natzis used the building, this is why it survived the war. The yard here was where Jews would be gathered to be taken to work around.

Today all these buildings are sponsored by Ron Lauder, son of Estee Lauder who was born in Warshaw. There is a kindergarden here, and Jewish life in the community.

Tomb of the unknown soldier in Warshaw, behind the fountain:

This is from the front, they also have here memorial for Jewish fighters from the Ghetto:

Free time at the city square:

Monument in memory of the polish revolt in Warshaw

During the communist control over Poland they were not suppose to remind this revolt. We are not talking about the revolt at the Ghetto in Warshaw, started on the eve of Passover 1943, but on a later revolt where polish revolted against the Germans. During the Warshaw revolt in 1943, Jews from the Ghetto were fighting together with the polish underground outside. The polish didn’t fully cooperate with the Jews, they helped them but they didn’t take an active part in it. In August 1944 after the end of the revolt in the Ghetto, Russians get closer to Poland, polish think this is the time to fight against the Germans together with the Russians, but the Russian army doesn’t enter Poland and doesn’t help them. They prefer to let the Germans kill the polish, more than 200,000 people from the total population of Warshaw, then they take over and the polish realize they are now under Russian control. They are not allowed to build monuments and until 1990 there is only a small monument not far from here and that’s all. This new monument was built in mid 90’s in memory of the revolt of the polish people, not the Jews.

In the evening, we listen to the story of Joseph Pink. He is a polish farmer who saved the life of a Jewish family during the war and for that received the title of a Rightouse among the nationas and a certificate from Yad Vashem. He and his children are not alive, but his grandchild came to the ceremony and honored us all with her story. The Pink family saved few Jews, among them the grandmother of a girl from the trip, so it was emotional to see how that girls gets to meet people from the family who saved her grandmother, realizing that if not for them, she herself wouldn’t be alive today. What else do we need to understand that all living Jews today are in some way Holocaust survivors?

After dinner, we enjoyed a polish folklore show before we sat down to talk about the experiences we had today. Here are some photos from that show:

Short movie from the folklore music dance and show:

Next day: Sunday, September 25, 2011 – Day 7

Sunday, September 25, 2011 – Day 7

From Warshaw to Treblinka

The movie we watched on the way from Warshaw to the death camp in Treblinka was “the pianist” based on the true story of Wladislaw Spielman. Years later the Natzi officer who helped him at the last days got the title of a rightous among the nations from Yad Vashem for his part in saving his life.

Now we are watching the movie “the escape from Sobibor”, this was one of 3 death camps built to solve the Jewish issue during the Reindhart Operaton, Sobibor was the most secretive of all 3 camps. These camps were built on 1942  according to Himler’s decision to initiate the “final solution” for the Jewish problem.

Treblinka

Together with Sobibor and Belzen these were 3 death camps to kill all the Jews from the “general governament”, mainly from Warshaw and Radom, no work here, no concentration camp, just death

On July 1942 there is a telegram to the Ghetto in Warshaw saying that Treblinka camp is ready to operate. Since July 24 and on thousands of Jews were sent here straight to death, while Germans kept exact lists of all these who are sent here and arrive to the camp. They keep few here to run the camp, but most people who arrived here by train never left, the train with 60 wagons stops 3 km from the camp, at a small village not far from here. The camp is inside the forest, kept secret, surrounded with barb wire, Germans didn’t want anyone to know what is going on here.

Fence around the camp is very primitive, no mine fields, just guards and wire. Not too many escaped the camp. There was an attempt to revolt at Treblinka, few tried to escape, not too much luck. They were few survivors, not too many

Commander of this camp was Frantz Schtengel. He was always dressed in white. Trains to the camp would take much longer than excepted. Train would arrive to the station in Melchinia, the village 3 km away from the camp, then Germans would send 20 wagons at a time inside the camp, into the gas chambers, while the others are kept in the station with no water and no food, waiting to get inside the camp. The curve we see is the turn of the train the goes into the camp:

Doors were locked from the outside, as the train gets to the station inside Treblinka, SS soldiers would hurry them all out of the train, separate men from women and children and send them to the gas. Someone who was sent to inspect what is going on here was sent by the Jewish fighting group “Eyal” to the train station in Melchinia, he realizes that all the trains arriving here but no train is going out of here, more than that, no food transports are brought here, no evidence that people are kept in the camp, so they understand that these who get here only get to their death.

There is a song called “this is the station Treblinka” by Yehuda Poliker, talking about the train arriving here. No selection as the ramp, just if they needed certain professions they would find them, otherwise they would be sent to death. No living people left Treblinka or Sobibor, very few people survived, not more than that. Of all the 900,000 people who arrived here, around 5 survived, mainly cause they managed to jump from the train or survive in a miraculous way

The camp was closed by the Germans at 1943 when they managed to kill all Jews from the “general governament”, around 2.2 million Jews were murdered during 1 year more or less. Once the camps were closed, all the other Jews  would be sent to the biggest death camp of them all, Auschwitz Birkenau

A short part with a melody from the Mezeritch Orthodox community, talking about “I believe in full believe in the coming of the Mesiach, tho it will take long, he will eventually come”. How can you believe in such a place? How can you keep waiting for the Mesiach to come and hope he will arrive before you get to the camp?

Camp plan at the entrance to the camp:

The entire camp could be explains in 5 numbers: the camp’s grounds were 400 * 600 meters, operated by 30 SS men and 120 Ukraine Wachmen who helped them, was active for 13 months and killed 874,000 Jews during the year it was opened and also some gypsies. Jews here were killed by CO coming out of gas engines, and the bodies were then burned on an open fire at the end of the camp.

The clock at the train station in Treblinka always said 6, Jews were suppose to give their property and they even got a receipt for it, they were told to write letters to their families behind, and the Germans sent these letters to the families, all part of the deceiving and making them think that there is no death here. The sick and weak people were sent to the so called “clinic”, a deep hole with fire burning in it, German soldiers would shoot them and they would fall into the hole. Outside there were people dressed in white like medical team, here was a red cross outside, another part of the deceiving, all these who were sent there fell into the fire.

One of these Ukraine soldiers was Iwan Demyanyouk, we are not sure if he was “Iwan the terrible” from Treblinka or if he was in Sobibor, he went to trial in Israel in 1988 and wasn’t found guilty because the evidence against him were not 100% proven. He was then trialed in Germany for his part in Sobibor and is now in prison for 7 years. This was a very famous case that took place in Israel years ago, went to the US and from there to Germany.

From the ramp the road leads into the gas chambers. First the Jews took off their cloths, they cut their hair, cloths are sorted out and then sent back to Germany, women’s hair is cut, people are then sent into the “schlouch”, a path that led into the gas chambers. Germans called this “stairway to heaven” or in German “hiemel strasse”. At it’s end, there was a sign saying “this is the gate to god, only righteous will go through it” – people would be pushed inside, gassed and die after 20 minutes. There were 2 operators there, Iwan and Nikolai, both ukraines. People were screaming, crying, praying, slowly there was silent and they all died. They are first buried, but Himler ordered to dig the bodies out and burn them not to leave any evidence, to keep it all in secret.

This is the perfect crime as far as the Germans, no bodies, nothing is left here, camp is destroyed in 1943 and is turned into a farm of a polish guy who lives here and builds his house with bricks from the gas chambers. Russians arrive and local polish people come here, dig the ground to look for gold, and the municipality then turns this into a memorial site on May 1964, memorial for all the communities who arrive here in Treblinka, 17,000 communities in total.

This is the location of the gas chambers, now a monument:

Never again – this is the inscription at the entrance to what used to be the gas chambers:

We hear here the story of 1 child from school and his family and leave stones with names of victims we want to remember, individual memory of one community, one person from that community, we listen to the story of 9 years old Esther, through a letter she wrote her uncle in Israel then, she lived in Ostrowiec before the war, was very Zionist, wrote in Hebrew and wishes she lived in Israel. Esther Bleiberg is killed here at the war.

We listen now to a song while we leave stones with names here:

Click on this to listen to the song “I Believe” by Yehuda Dim

Candles were left to burn in their memory:

And we end the visit with a ceremony performed by the kids.

Sobibor

250,000 Jews were killed in Sobibor, but there was a revolt there and the story of that revolt is in the movie “Escape from Sobibor”

Tikotzin or Tiktin as the Jews called it in it’s glory:

This small village is an hour away from Treblinka. Time here stopped, it looks as it looked like years ago. Jews here were 70% Of the population, this is a typical Jewish “schteitel” and before the war this was all very Jewish. The house in the photo was a Jewish home, place of the “melamed” teaching kids above 3 years old to read and pray. You needed minimum of 10 families here to have a “minian” and this becomes an important village on the 16th century. Eve of the war we have here around 2500 Jews here, they have flower mills, they are shoe makers, fishermen and all the other classical things Jews did.

July 1941 in preparation to the Barbarosa Operation, special killing groups came in and started killing Jews. These Einzatsgroupen took people to the woods, shot them and throw them into holes in the forest. Rabbi and the leaders of the community meet and try to understand what is happening. Russians have left, Germans came back and now local polish people lynch the Jews, kill them, burns them and the Jews are worried. They remember the Germans as cultural people, so they decide to tell Jews to meet at the market place. August 25 1941 all Jews are here, waiting, German soldiers surround the square with tracks and machine guns, at 07:15 Germans take 1400 people from this town to the unknown.

Synagouge of town:

Inside the synagogue, center of Jewish life in town:

Synagogue has around 1000 seats in it, very big, used only for Shabbat and holidays and it was build already in the 16th century, at 1642. This was the center of life for many generations of Jews. Lots of connections between this town and Jews from Amsterdam, even the font on the walls here is the Amsterdam font. Town stopped to developed when the railway went around it and bypassed it, this is why it’s as if it was frozen in time. Today this synagogue is the museum for the history of the Jews of Tiktin. It’s not used any more by Jews.

We have here a short ceremony, with couple of songs:

Killing area at the woods outside of Tiktin

We are walking into the woods exactly as the people from here walked years ago. All delegation members have flowers in their hands, on the way where all Jews of Tiktin were murdered.

Prayer circle in the forest:

The path into the woods where Jews were taken:

This is one of the places where jews were taken to be killed:

August 25, 1941 all these Jews from Tiktin, total of 1400 people were taken into the forest, put in line and killed. Day later the rest, 700 more are taken and killed at the second hole. End for this great community here. The two friends who were sent home before follow the group into the woods, they meet few more who survived, but the Germans look for them, they are all captured, 25 of them come back after the war. Another person was shot here in the hole, but managed to stay alive and get out of here, he wrote a testimony before he was captured again and sent to the camps by the Germans.

3 holes are here and all Jews from Tiktin are baried here. We each have a name and life story of a person who was killed here.

Wyrziki

We are here in a small village, where we came to meet with a righteous among the nations. This man’s grandfather saved Jews during the war and hid them in a pigs place, which is now turned into a barn. He is now wearing Israeli army shirt, paratroopers barrett and has ranks on, all souvenirs from Israeli groups visiting

This village is not far from the Lochopova forest, where the community of Tikitin was murdered. The family here is the Gusk family, Chana and Meitek (the farmer from this village) learned at school together, she is hiding in the woods near the village Wygoda, they are hiding in a flower mill near by, and the father of the Friedman family asks Meitek to hide them. We met now with the son of Meitek, he is in the photo.

They dig a small hole under the pig’s place and hides there 8 people in total, they spent time in the forest and came back to hide, very secret, careful not to let anyone find out, they were hiding here for around 20 months till one day 3 soldiers came here and they had to leave and came back. Towards the end of the war they had to leave, Chana’s father is shot, she and her mother hide under the bridge and freed at August 21, 1944. The father died before but the mother died only a month ago, August 2011. They risked their life just to save Jews since they were human beings.

Next day: Monday, September 26, 2011 – Day 8

Monday, September 26, 2011 – Day 8

Morning of the last day in our journey

We start the morning with a meeting in a polish school, where the kids will have a friendly basketball game. This is a tradition of the school, each time they come to Poland, and they already have long terms relations with this school. For me it was good to see that we don’t only teach the kids what the polish people did during the war but also teach them that there is a new generation and there is hope and that they can connect with this new generation from a whole different point now, as young strong independent Israelis.

The two groups are on the field already, getting ready to the game.

In the second quarter of the game:

3rd quarter and we are leading 27:26 after hard fight. The game is over and we won 35:30

Okopova, the Jewish cemetery in Warshaw:

This is the only Jewish cemetery that survived from the time of the Ghetto and the largest in Europe that exists today

From the size of this cemetery, you can understand the size of the Jewish community that was here and the size of the tragedy of the Jewish people in the holocaust. This cemetery started in 1806 and is very large, the city grew around it.

Old graves with more modern graves, simple people but also rich people and of course Rabbis, you can see here the faces of the Jewish society in Poland:

This grave is the burial place of a very famous rabbi, rabbi Shlomo Zalman, he is buried in a separate building so when people come to visit his tomb, they will be able to meet and pray on his grave

All Jews who are buried here will be put with their feet towards the exit from the cemetery, do when resurrection day arrives, they will be able to get out of the cemetery. When you have the Jewish date on the grave, you turn it into numbers by Gimatria (numerical value of letters) then add 1240 to get the regular gregorian calendar.

Professor Balaban who is buried here researched all Jewish communities in Europe including the Caraim, who believe only in the written Torah. Hitler wanted to use his research to decide if they are Jewish or not so he can include them with all Jews. Balaban told the Germans that Caraim are not Jews in order to save them, but Germans didn’t accept that and they killed them together with the Jews.

To summarize the visit to the cemetery, the fact that the new part of it is so small shows that no jews were left in the city, not enough people to die here cause the community is so small

In the green area behind this stone, there is a mass grave for the victims of the Ghetto in Warshaw.

During the time the Ghetto was active, there were lots of dead people in the streets, too many to be buried in individual graves, not to mention that sometimes they had problems to identify people, so they were all put into 5 mass graves. First, they would take the dead and hand them to someone to bury them, then they would just put the body dressed in the street at night, then they would even take their cloths to use and put their naked bodies in the streets. Lots of bodies would be collected from the streets and taken to mass graves, they died of hunger or Tiphus. Polish couple designed this monument and the black line on the stones in third hight, symbol for third of the Jewish people who were killed during the holocaust, 6 millions out of total of 18 millions Jews in the world on the eve of second world war. We estimate more than 100,000 people in all these mass graves here in Warshaw.

Tomb of Doctor Zamenhouf who invented the Esperanto. He was born in Bialistock and wanted to make people speak the same language, so he invented Esperanto for everyone to speak. Here is the sign of that language:

Tomb of someone from the Bund organization, these who wanted to be Jews in Poland and speak Yiddish instead of going to Palestine like the zionists wanted. One of these was Mark Idelman, who is buried here:

Tomb of the father of Janush Kortzack, Josef Goldzmit. He was mentally ill at the end of his life and his son never married since he was afraid that this will pass on in the family.

In the next grave, this is the Tomb of the famous writers Y. L. Peretz, Anski and Rinzaan, all from around 1920

The Heroism Path to the Rapaport Monument

We are at the “cargo square”, the “Umschlagplaz”, where the Germans transported many Jews from the Ghetto to send them to the camps. The black line again on the third part of the wall, is a symbol to third of the Jewish people who were sent from here to the camps. During the selections, Germans had quotes of Jews to send to the camps, they used to catch passing by Jews and send them to the trains. 1942 the trains leave from here to Treblinka.

One of the kids in the group shared here the story of his grandmother: her father was picked up in the street to be sent to death, but he paid a German soldier and gave him a gold watch and he was saved. She herself was saved by a German soldier only because of a mistake in identification: another Jewish family paid him to save their girl, he made a mistake and saved the grandmother instead. When he brought her back to them, they all realize the mistake he made, her father then found her and they managed to survive the war. She spent the rest of the time till the end of the war with a polish woman who kept her alive, but she always knew that her life was saved because of the mistake of that German, and that another child was killed instead of her.

We are looking into the “umschlagplaz”:

The Path of Heroism is built from 16 stones who mark heroes of the holocaust, writers, poets, fighters, they all did their part to contribute and they are remembered along this path.

We walk along these 16 stations, 16 stones with different stories.

The path ends at the Rapaport monument, remembering the victims who died in the revolt of the Ghetto in Warshaw:

In front of it they are now building the new Jewish museum:

We will have here the closing ceremony of the entire journey:

Before the big ceremony we had a small circle of everyone together with a song:

Click on this to listen to the song “Great Light” by Amir Ganon”

In front of the monument:

This is the final ceremony at the end of the last day, Abigail is going to sing few songs here. She opens the ceremony, sings in the middle of it and closes it with the national anthem of Israel:

Group photo of all the kids during the ceremony below the monument:

Tonight was the final meeting of the entire group. We sat in a circle, trying to see what did each one of us get from this journey. This is a very individual experience, some have it strongly and some don’t, but everyone leaves something behind in the soil of Poland and takes something back with him to Israel. What is that thing?

We heard lots of things that the kids went through. They gained knowledge of course, understanding of what happened, felt sadness and sorrow for the victims, shared life story of people and families, as well as of their class mates, but they each experienced in in a different way. One of the most deep sentences I heard in this journey was in Majdanek, the guide told the kids: “some of the Jews who died here spend here less time than the time we spent touring here” – this was so true, one minute they were there, people with families, dreams, hopes, life and the next moment they were gone, just like that, as if there were never there, it made me think of how fragile life is, how important it is to appreciate what you have in life and how lucky we are to be in our own strong independent country, with an army to protect us, with life and hopes for the future, which wasn’t the part of these who were murdered.

Eli Eli, the song openning the ceremony:

Sleep Little Girl:

HaTikvah, the song closing the ceremony:

Launching 1st Israeli battery-switching station for Electrical Cars

Better Place launches 1st Israeli battery-switching station
By SHARON UDASIN (03/24/2011 05:20)

Infrastructures Minister Landau recites ‘Shehecheyanu’ blessing, calling it a first step toward weaning the country from enemy resources.

Sitting in the back
seat of a Renault Fluence Z.E. car during the five-minute battery exchange process, one hears only silence as the engine restarts.

Better Place launched its first battery-swapping station in Israel on Wednesday morning near Rehovot.
The station is the first of approximately 40 stations to operate around the country in the near term, nine of which have already been completed.

The company has also erected over 1,000 functional charging spots for the cars and thousands more will be put in place by the end of the year, according to Moshe Kaplinsky, CEO of Better Place Israel.

“The solution is here; it is ready for national deployment. It is here, it is working and it is available,” Kaplinsky told a news conference.

“We promise that by the end of the year we will have full national deployment that will enable each and every one of us to drive.”

Tal Agassi, head of solution development and operation at Better Place, reconfirmed the readiness, adding, “We are happy to be able to implement this solution for the first time here in Israel… When we see that it is successful in Israel, we are going to replicate it in other places around the world.”

Heading into the exchange station, the driver pulled one of the vehicles up to motorized tracks, as in a car wash, and put the car in neutral. The rest of the five-minute process is automated.

While charging the battery takes about six hours and provides 185 km. of travel, the switch can be done on the run, during lengthy car trips, the driver, Oved Ladizinsky, said.

The computerized system on the car’s dashboard helps the driver figure out when it’s time to charge the car and when it’s time to switch a battery.

“Big Brother knows,” Ladizinsky said, laughing.

Back at the press conference, Kaplinsky explained that Better Place already has signed agreements with 400 parking lot owners to build charging stations on their land, and 200 are already standing.

For customer convenience, charging can also be done overnight, at home, but homeowners or building committees would have to install special charging sockets; charging from home outlets will not be permitted.

“The charge will make me start every day with a full battery. The fuel station is at my home,” Agassi said.

By the end of the year, coverage will be extensive, from the northern to southern tip of the country – “the major thoroughfares throughout Israel will be covered by our system,” Kaplinsky said.

Meanwhile, Kaplinsky assured that the system “fulfills all the environmental and ecological standards,” and has been undergoing safety tests. Customer service will be available to drivers 24/7.

“This vision three years ago was nothing but a vision,” said Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place. “Now it’s real.

“The beauty of it is that nobody will see it, nobody will feel it – you will just drive your car,” he added. “The driver will say it’s a car, what’s the big deal? If that’s what the driver says then we’ve succeeded.”

Better Place’s partners at Renault were equally enthused about Wednesday’s launch.

“Renault is confident that this strategy will bring modernity back to the car industry and pave the way for cleaner, greener, quieter car industry,” said Katsumi Nakamura, executive vice president and leader of Renault’s Asia-Africa management committee, who had flown in from Japan.

Better Place already has systems under development in Copenhagen and Tokyo, and has plans to expand to California, Hawaii and Australia, according to Shai Agassi.

“This system is going to be copy-pasted all over the world,” he said.

Agassi said that Better Place will start selling the Renault Fluence Z.E. cars to customers this year, and they will be delivered by the end of the year. Sales have already begun in Denmark.

About 10,000 people signed an “interested” list for the cars in Israel, he added.

“We expect demand to most likely outstrip supply by a very high factor in the first 12 months,” Agassi said. “As far as demand and supply, we will work together with our partners at Renault.”

Renault is capable of manufacturing 40,000 or 400,000 cars, whatever is needed, according to Agassi. The prices of the cars in Israel will be made available in a few weeks, but in the meantime, Agassi stressed that electric cars would be a money-saver for the country.

“The entire cost of this infrastructure is equal to one week of gas usage in Israel,” he said.

Nakamura agreed that electric cars would reduce costs. He stressed that the Renault vehicles will be sold at an “affordable price,” calling the car “a mass-market vehicle” that will “achieve a significant breakthrough in CO2 emissions.”

One other motivation – besides environmental and financial sustainability – for a transition to electric cars noted by the speakers was the need to cut Israel’s dependency on its enemies’ resources.

“We are financing terrorism, we are financing the radical parts of Islam that are becoming stronger and stronger,” said National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau in his address. “We finance people who are against our culture of freedom.

“When we are bewitched by the car and the fuel we become addicted to the people who manufacture them,” he continued.

Landau praised Better Place for finding a viable solution to this problem, for “inaugurating a rehabilitation facility, so to speak, from fuel” dependency.

Landau concluded his address with the “Shehecheyanu” blessing in honor of the event, adding, “On this very august occasion we are inaugurating a plant that is Israeli-based. When people are going to mention the name Shai Agassi in the world, it is a name that is made in Israel.

When people are going to mention Better Place, it is a name made in Israel.”