What is 5½ miles from head to tail, 50 years old, and winds through the streets of Manhattan?
The Celebrate Israel parade, of course.
The parade celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and the 66th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day, with more than 200 different groups and 40,000 marchers. (Don’t ask about the security.)
It started at 11am on June 1 at 57th Street, and progressed up Fifth Avenue to 74th Street. The last float finished at 4pm.
And on the last float was Karen Ostrove, who joined us on the ISRAEL21c Journey to Israel trip last October. Karen was there because her day job is organizing the parade. It’s an all-year thing: deciding which groups march, what order they’re in, what their banners and floats say, and how they’re announced for live TV coverage.
Karen and Steve Ostrove on the Journey to Israel trip.
And then, on the day of the parade, Karen makes sure that all those people, all those banners, and all those floats get sent off properly, in the right order, from the starting line. Like a captain who is the last one to leave the ship, Karen is on that last float, getting off at the VIP grandstand near 72nd Street, at which point the parade is officially over.
Her husband, Steve, makes it a family affair. He was at the reviewing grandstand in a bright orange “Staff” shirt, near the media booth with all the TV cameras, making sure that there weren’t big gaps in the marchers, which would create “dead air” in the live television broadcast.
Best part: We got to have a mini-reunion from our trip, with Karen and Steve, Michele Herman and Bernie and Lana Dishler.
Dr. Ebner, chairman of ophthalmology at the British Hospital of Buenos Aires, cofounded the Jewish Ophthalmologists in Buenos Aires professional group in 2012, with eye surgeon Dr. Gustavo Goldman.
The inaugural meeting featured Dr. Amir Amedi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a world pioneer in sensory substitution devices for people with vision loss. (Yes, we’ve written about him several times.)
The group meets twice a year and always devotes a few sessions to a Jewish topic – such as the kabbalistic meaning of the eye, medieval scholar-physician Maimonides’ treatise on eyes, kosher wine-tastings or a synopsis of medical advances in Israel.
“We’d like to be on your list and receive periodical info regarding scientific Israeli medical advances (some we know, some we don’t) for comment during our meetings,” Dr. Ebner requested.
We were happy to register him to receive ISRAEL21c’s free weekly edition of the stories we post every day.
“We feel proud of the achievements of Jewish ophthalmologists around the country who share a common interest in getting together and exchanging cultural information linking the eye and our culture, religion and history,” writes Dr. Ebner. “The enthusiastic group is growing and expects to continue forever.”
From left, Daniel Gold, LA Jewish Federation; Yael Vizel of Zeekit; Roei Deutsch of Yesh Atid; Shiri Ladelsky of Vibits; and Guy Katsovich of Veribo.
Four Israeli “high-tech heroes” told their startup success stories at a recent TLV Talks event in Santa Monica co-sponsored by ISRAEL21c. The speakers, all former soldiers who served in elite Israel Defense Forces cyber, tech and combat units, were in the country to raise the profile of their businesses.
TLV Talks was a natural stop on the tour, as the goal of this collaboration between the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and the Israeli American Council’s BINA program for young professionals is “to create a web of connections that promotes Israel to our community and strengthens our personal connections to Israel.”
The presenters were all from Gammado, one of Israel’s top startup incubators:
• Guy Katsovich, who served in the prestigious 8200 cyber-unit and now is head of business development for Veribo for corporations and individuals to manage their online reputations.
• Yael Vizel, founder and CEO of Zeekit, which gives consumers an enhanced online clothes shopping experience.
• Roei Deutsch, a veteran of 8200 and former CEO of Veribo, and currently director of new media for the Israeli political party Yesh Atid.
• Shiri Ladelsky, another 8200 vet, musician and head of software startup Vibits, which focuses on personality features for human resource departments via visualized CV.
ISRAEL21c provided source material for this event as well as all TLV Talks, said Nathan Miller, ISRAEL21c’s director of social media.
“The LA Federation puts on TLV Talks once a quarter, where they bring over interesting Israelis like women entrepreneurs and members of IsraAID [the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid], and they approached us to provide content for these events because a lot of the speakers are people we’ve featured in our stories,” he explains.
“We print out relevant articles from our website and create social media graphics to give the attendees a little more context if they want to learn more about that particular sector.”
The foursome was making the rounds of “Silicon Beach,” as the LA high-tech scene is known, and had meetings at companies including Microsoft. The TLV Talk was held at Cross Campus, an Israeli-owned shared workspace for startups.
The audience included members of ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors program, a framework for college students to share our content online through social networks.
Miller reports that the speakers were extraordinarily impressive and articulate.
“Roei Deutsch sold his first high-tech startup at 16. Yael Vizel was the first female commander of the Air Force’s field and aerial telecommunication crews and now heads a big startup. All of them have compelling personal stories, and talked about how their rigorous training from the army gives them incredible skills and also a network so that when they get out, they get plugged right into the high-tech scene.”
At the Microsoft presentation, about 300 local high-tech people were there, “trying to mine the secrets of what Israel is doing and wanting to know how to get Israeli programmers to work for them,” says Miller.
“A lot of young professionals are really excited about what Israel has to offer,” he concludes.
ISRAEL21c content is part of the information included on CHAT’s Wall of Truth.
We recently shared a Shabbat meal with a “gap year” student from Toronto. When I told her I write for ISRAEL21c, she said her history teacher at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT) uses material from our website on a regular basis to keep kids informed about Israeli innovation.
So I called Mahra Hart to find out more.
Hart, a Jewish history teacher at one of CHAT’s two campuses, began an Israel Advocacy Club three years ago. “I wanted to inspire our students to speak up on behalf of Israel, especially on university campuses where we know they will come across extreme anti-Zionist propaganda,” she says.
As part of this initiative, she produces a weekly bulletin, “Israel in the News,” for CHAT’s Jewish history teachers to review with the 598 students.
“So that the students don’t come to understand the essence of Israel as a conflict with the Palestinians,” she gathers news of groundbreaking medical, technological, humanitarian and agricultural advances happening every day in Israel, drawing on reports from ISRAEL21c as well as other sources such as the Jerusalem Post and Israel National News websites.
“I just showed the ISRAEL21c video of Happy Tel Aviv-Yafo,” she reported on March 18. “Everyone danced along. It’s so nice to see that dimension of Israel in video.”
She also uses ISRAEL21c in her 12th grade course on Israeli society.
“We do a unit on the economy, and I have each student research an aspect of Israeli innovation from ISRAEL21c specifically,” Hart relates. “They have to prepare an ad for an innovation that they found on ISRAEL21c, and I use these ads to make a wall display, ‘The Wall of Truth,’ for the entire student body.”
Hart says she was inspired to use our website in the classroom because she had detected some indifference among her students toward Israel and toward anti-Zionism.
“Knowing full well they will confront it on college campuses, I wanted to prepare them and inspire their sense of Zionism and ability to speak for Israel,” she says. “I’m not Israeli, but Israel is the Jewish state so it represents me and them. It’s part of being Jewish.”
The payoff is hearing from former students about how the Israel Advocacy Club experience came to their rescue.
“Right after the first year of the Israel Advocacy program, I started getting emails from students about their experiences on campus and how the background they got from CHAT inspired them to be leaders. They tell me of their pride and their successes, or ask for additional resources to fight anti-Zionism. The program has had an immediate and important impact.”
By the way, ISRAEL21c writer and associate editor Viva Sarah Press is a CHAT alumna (class of 1993).
The four Israeli companies invited to present their futuristic technologies in front of 14,000 attendees of the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington last week received an enthusiastic response from the largest gathering of America’s pro-Israel community. Jews, Christians, African Americans and Latinos from all 50 states were in attendance, including thousands of college students.
The Israel Innovation Showcase has become a favorite highlight of twice-yearly AIPAC national events (http://www.israel21c.org/blog/behind-the-scenes/israel21c-feature-stories-star-in-aipac-innovation-showcase/). ISRAEL21c’s Nathan Miller was at the Policy Conference to speak with the four executives, whose groundbreaking companies have all been featured on ISRAEL21c for their potential to improve lives.
“We are overwhelmed by the positive reaction and interest,” ElMindA CEO Ronen Gadot told Miller.
The 32-person company, in R&D mode since 2006 and poised for commercialization this year, just completed large clinical studies to validate its technology – a non-invasive functional brain mapping to diagnose and monitor cognitive impairments such as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases, ADHD, brain injuries and other neurological disorders affecting millions of people.
“We have filed with the FDA two years ago, and are in advanced review by the agency,” Gadot said. “We are preparing an infrastructure to market our tools in the US and Canada. We are positioned as an international company because our market is global, and we have many partners in the US — industry, pharmaceutical companies, universities, medical schools and hospitals.”
ElMindA was one of the “wow” technologies demonstrated to President Obama during his March 2013 visit to Israel due to his interest in advancing brain science – an interest shared with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
“Focusing on a variety of indications, we are working toward a reality where our brain health will be much more closely monitored so disease can be diagnosed earlier and treatment will be more effective,” said Gadot, adding that this has relevance for everyone – from kids with developmental disorders and concussion, to the early detection of our own cognitive impairment, or dealing with parents suffering neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
AIPAC delegates were lined up at ElMindA’s booth for free demo brain scans. “I didn’t realize how many doctors and neurologists would be here, and they want to test drive this in their clinics,” said Gadot. “It’s been an amazing experience.”
Everyone wanted to try it
Turning to water technology, TaKaDu founder and CEO Amir Peleg demonstrated his company’s “add-on” software solution to help municipalities and companies detect water leaks and save some of the $15 billion lost each year due to leakage in the carrier infrastructure.
“We showed live what we can do for leaky systems,” Peleg told Miller. “The response was overwhelming – unbelievable — not only because what we do is special and unique and easy to understand, but because the crowd here is so supportive of Israeli technology.”
During his two days at the Policy Conference, Peleg was approached by potential customers, such as the owner of a soft-drink factory; by movers and shakers who want to help open doors for TaKaDu in the United States; and by students inspired by the company’s green mission.
Peleg predicted that if TaKaDu could help utility companies conserve one-third of the water flowing through the pipes that is now wasted, their impression of Israel will be radically changed. “Every time I have an interaction with a foreign company,” said Peleg, “I’m sure they are one notch more friendly to Israel than before.”
Erez Naaman, vice president of business development and engineering at OrCam, presented the company’s assistive device for people with vision impairment, in development for the past three and a half years.
“It’s a smart camera that sees for them, understands what it’s looking at and tells them discreetly in their ear,” he explained to Miller. Based on an invention by Prof. Amnon Shashua, OrCam’s invention is built into a tiny computer that clips onto a pair of eyeglasses.
“We came to AIPAC to help us reach the American public,” said Naaman. “And everyone’s been incredibly supportive. I was quite surprised at how deeply it touches people to see an actual user of the device, to appreciate what it does for them. A few people wanted to purchase one right here.”
Others at the conference told him about relatives whose lives could be changed by the OrCam device, which is in a pre-launch phase with its first paying customers.
“We’re here to help and we want people to know it,” said Naaman. “The coverage we’ve been getting is crucial in getting the word out to our public, who don’t consume mainstream media.”
Amir Be’eri, founder and CEO of Camero, explained the capabilities of his company’s security cameras with advanced micro-power radar technology that can “see” through walls to provide real-time surveillance of concealed stationary and moving objects.
“We were proud to be selected to present at AIPAC among the many technologies in Israel,” Be’eri told Miller.
“We are getting a fantastic response. Everyone is astonished to see such Israeli technology in use. The United States is our biggest market, and we make something that can literally save lives in rescue operations, drug raids, urban combat, high-risk arrest and many other applications. We can show Israel has great ideas that can be used all over the world.”