Solar Cooking
Last edited: 9 July 2020      
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  • July 2020: Solar cooking resource - Daniel Feuermann has created an online resource for Israeli citizens to be able to learn about solar cooking and affordably purchase solar cookers. See: Sun & Cook

One of 160 families in Gaza using solar cookers


The National Physical Laboratory of Israel (NPLI) in 1996 experimented with the building of a solar concentrating type cooker. The design and materials used created an efficient cooker.

The promoting group was initially operating on the assumption that any solar cooker should lend itself to construction in local villages, largely around cost issues - that is, the intent was to serve the poor of the nation. That goal put considerable constraint on the venture, leading Harry Tabor, author of an article in the proceedings of the Varese Conference (1999), to suggest that while the appliance could be made or assembled locally, the critical elements could only be made in central shops (or even overseas). The NPLI research was limited to parabolic cookers, but the article argues that the principle pertains to box cookers as well. As example, glass cut to appropriate size(s), reliable and weather resistant hinges, bright aluminum in sheets, etc. could be prepared in regional workshops, while the insulation materials, wood, paint could be purchased locally.

Several companies and universities are continuing research on improving the solar oven, notably among them are the famed Weizmann Institute and Schatz Laboratories for Solar Energy Development.


A history of solar energy use

Israel has a history of developing solar heating, with a law requiring solar heat collectors for hot water on every building. In fact, more than 83% of houses have solar water heating installed on the roofs. Luz, one of the largest solar heating companies in the world in the late 80's until 1999, and today two of the largest solar heating energy companies in the world are both located near the city of Beit Shemesh (meaning in Hebrew: The House of the Sun): Sollel and Luz II. Also, a large portion of the Weitzman institute consists of one of the largest solar collector tower and basin in the world.

solar cooking has continued to be prevalent, and in almost all Hebrew and English forums that deal with sustainable systems, there have been requests and sharing of information, with new blogs and websites dedicated to the subject. Climatic circumstances for solar cooking are close to ideal, and various initiatives including government sponsored advertising call for Israeli citizens to use solar ovens, and NGOs have been advancing the technology. Rachel Andres, recipient of the Bronfman Prize, and originator of the solar cooking initiative in Darfur, was closely followed by Israeli media, with a project involving many Jewish communities worldwide. The images in the Israeli media, as well as the article content, left the impression that this was an Israeli project...

It seems that the invention of using a car sunscreen as a solar cooker was originally posted on the Internet on an Israel Hebrew solar cooking website, and it is possible that the writers were actually the inventors of this idea. (It should be noted that it may be that that website was translated and not the original source. No names are listed on the site.) Public festivals on national holidays typically have included public solar cooking as a standard activity. Also, summer camp solar cooking activities are prevalent. News about these events and activities frequently reached the media.

Solar cooking was mentioned in the Jewish holy scripts of the Mishna (compiled approx. 200 BC to 100 AD) written in Hebrew. The texts refer to the Mishnaic and Talmudic discussions on whether solar cooking was allowed on the Sabbath day (Saturday), when cooking or creating a fire is not permitted, stating that cooking done by the sun would be permitted on the Sabbath. They state that solar cooking is the "produce of the Sun, not produce of man-made fire".

In orthodox Jewish "Rabbinic" writings on Jewish rituals, this topic is discussed at length, especially due to the mandatory solar water heaters on every roof in Israel. Several orthodox Ashkenazi Jews have often used the sun as a solution for warming lunch at noon, which otherwise would be prohibited according to their customs. This applies only to dry foods, and only if the heat is received directly from the sun rays, and not by passing the heat and warmth via any other material (such as warm sand).

A Canadian visitor to Israel, Randy Shulman, lived in a southern remote kibbutz for some months, where she attempted to introduce solar cooking to her hosts.

The turning point for the spread of knowledge about solar cooking in Israel may have been the widespread advertising in all newspapers about a family in Netanya, who learned solar cooking from Swiss friends around the year 2003.

It is now quite common to see solar cooking at many settings in Israel.

Jewish and Arab cooperation in solar cooking

Several joint initiatives have taken place in Israel, for learning about and practicing solar cooking. Especially notable, was the northern Israeli religious Jewish Kaditha village solar cooking outing held for Arab teachers from Galilee and Palestinian teachers from the Palestinian National Authority. The goal being, to successfully take their new solar cooking skills back to their own communities.


An initiative to bring solar cooking to Bedouins (nomad Arab tribes in southern Israel), was started by Devora Brous, Founder of Bustan NGO, angry at Israeli government attitude and actions towards the Bedouins. These Bedouin tribes have been in a dispute with the Israeli government regarding Jewish establishment on land ownership in the Negev desert area. Bustan a grass-roots NGO is still working with the Bedouin people and solar cooking is used as an alternative to the traditional small fire cooking. Solar cooking is also a solution for villages not connected to the electrical grid.

Israelis have also participated in teaching Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority about solar ovens, and solar cooking activity. This is usually part of Anti-Israeli establishment activities.

In Bet Shemesh (Literally: Home of the Sun) the local Sustainability Center holds regular workshops showing various types of solar cookers and holds workshops teaching baking and cooking with solar cookers.

Archived articles

Climate and culture[]

In the south and eastern desert areas, including cities such as Eilat and villages such as Ein Gedi, temperatures typically reach 40 °C (104 °F) in the summer days. Solar cooking can be done in these regions on any dark (or sometimes even white) metal or sand. Soldiers and bedouin nomads are known to fry eggs or warm up cans of food directly in the sand, and residents of the cities in these locations, especially in the Arava area, may cook a meal, simply by placing it in the sun, without any solar oven.

In all of Israel, cloudy days account for only 40% of the year at most. In recent years there has been a haze caused mainly by dust from construction covering many of the buildings, and by pollution primarily from transportation. Even so, conditions in Israel are ideal for solar cooking most of the year.

See also


Possible funders[]

Construction plans in Arabic[]


English reports[]

Hebrew reports[]

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English media[]

Solar Seder at Kibbutz Lotan

Hebrew media[]

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NGOs based in or working in the Israel[]

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