Israel’s World Contributions

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In this week’s newsletter, we are taking a slight detour. Last week, we wrote an opinion piece on the Airbnb boycott and generally, we provide educators with multiple perspectives on Israeli current events from within Israel accompanied by classroom tools and discussion questions. This week, we wanted to do something different. The very purpose of journalism is to to guide people to make informed decisions, and perhaps too often, the stories we hear can either be “click bait” or stressful and tense. For this week, we’d like to resist this important feature of journalism. We want to share with you stories that came out of Israel that are typically in our “random but important section” and put the magnifying glasses on for these stories this week, highlighting and sharing these Israeli stories with those around us. Thank you to my colleague Elana Raskas for partnering with me in bringing these stories to light.

Health

Israeli company UPnRIDE is developing a wheeled robotic device for people who are either unable to walk or have difficulty standing or walking. It allows the user to move from sitting to standing and back at the touch of a button. The device is intended to increase independence, reduce the noticeability of the disability, improve health and decrease medical costs.

The device was designed by Amit Goffer, who has a PhD in electrical and computer engineering and is himself a quadriplegic. It is slated to become commercially available by the end of the year. Watch this video to see how it works, and read this article about an Israeli groom who recently used the device at his recent wedding, which allowed him to stand under the chuppah with his bride.   

Safety

Carbyne911 is an Israeli startup determined to improve first-response time and effectiveness. It was born when founder Amir Elchai was mugged in Tel Aviv and was disappointed with the time it took police to respond. He wondered, “If Uber and the pizza delivery guy can determine where we are, why can’t 911?” Instead of being a part of the problem, he chose to be part of the solution and he embarked on his project to develop Carbyne911, which is a system of emergency response that gives first responders critical information to “analyze calls in real-time, provide accurate support, reduce costs, dispatch time and save lives.” The app is live in 161 countries and includes features such as using a smartphone’s camera and microphone to assess a situation, and a chat option if the person cannot speak.

The challenge the company faces is two-fold: navigating the tight cyber-security of each country and educating each country on new response system possibilities. Yet, the impact this company can have in the world of security is tremendous. Watch Carbyne911’s video to see how it works.

Environment

Israeli company WaterGen won one of only 20 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) Innovation Awards ahead of their January 2019 show floor. WaterGen creates machines of various sizes that convert air into water! Although this sounds more like The Illusionist and less like non-fiction, it could not be more real. The technology uses the humidity in the atmosphere and transfers it into drinking water. This can provide drinking water to people across the world who desperately need it, as well as help with large-scale crises like the fires raging in California. Watch WaterGen’s video to learn more.  

Looking for more? Watch this video about some cool new technology and read the latest on www.israel21c.org.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When learning about Israel, do you prefer to learn about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the innovations coming out of Israel?
  2. In general, why do you think the media focuses more on conflict than opportunities of celebration?
  3. In considering these three innovations, which recently came out of Israel, what is something within your control that you can contribute positively to the world?

Noam Weissman

Dr. Noam Weissman is the Senior Vice President of Education at Jerusalem U. Noam holds a doctorate in educational psychology from USC with a focus on curriculum design. Before joining Jerusalem U, he was the principal of Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles, where he spent 9 years actively engaging and empowering students to find meaning in their Jewish learning.

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