Up-Start Nation

A pulsating powerhouse, Israel clocks up a Noble Prize Bar Mitzvah bringing her tally to 13 with Joshua Angrist co-wining for economics

By David E. Kaplan

Not bad for such a tiny nation.

And to those eyebrow-raisers kvetching, “Hmnn….. but Angrist lives in the US,” this writer sides with the wife.

Following the announcement that Israeli-American economist Joshua Angrist was awarded together with David Card and Guido Imbens the 2021 Nobel Prize for economics prize, Angrist’s wife, Mira, told Israel’s Channel 12,  she and her husband are Israelis “with every bone in their bodies.”

She explains “We met in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem after he made aliyah… our lives are run between Israel and Boston… We’re very excited right now.”

So are Israelis and justifiably so!

Miniscule Israel has long punched far above its demographic weight when it comes to the Nobel Prize. “There are not many countries who have won so many Nobel prizes,” said the late Shimon Peres, Israel’s President at the time, himself a Nobel laureate who shared the Peace Prize together with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1994.

Noting Israel’s stunning trajectory, it is little wonder that as of October 2021, NINE of the TEN Israeli Nobel laureates since 2002, have been for either chemistry or economics. Over the same period, vastly larger countries with larger economies failed to outperform the small Jewish State. Israel’s surge as a pulsating powerhouse shows how it belts way above its weight.

Nobel Men. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three  – David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens  – have completely reshaped empirical work in the economic sciences.

With a souring hi-tech and cyber based economy, Israel is revered today as “The Startup Nation” – the appellation derived from Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s bestseller by the same name – which examines how a young nation with a small population was able to achieve rapid outstanding economic growth. Today, Israel is the envy of many foreign countries and understandably why. Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world after the United States, and the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China.. Driven by gumption and grit and abundant ‘chutzpah’, the Start-Up Nation is as much for this writer – amusingly yet profoundly – the  ‘Up-StartNation’ – cherishing its yesterdays but gung-ho about its tomorrows.

It’s only Natural

Covering in their studies the fields of  ‘education’, the ‘labour market’ and ‘immigration’, Angrist and his co-winners were awarded the 2021 Nobel economics prize for pioneering the use of “Natural Experiments”, which are real-life situations that economists study and analyse to determine cause and effect relationships.

It was fascinating to learn – although I assume less pleasing to some US politicians and businesses  –  that Angrist’s colleague and Nobel co-winner, Canadian David Card had successfully in 2019 dispelled some serious erroneous economic beliefs, notably, that an increase in the minimum wage would destroy jobs as it would make it more expensive for companies to do business.

Israeli-American economist wins Nobel Prize. MIT Prof. Joshua Angrist, who taught at Hebrew University in the 1990s, is the 13th Israeli citizen to win the prestigious award.

Together with the late Alan Kruger, they compared the labour markets on both sides of the border between the US states of New Jersey – where the minimum wage had been increased – and Pennsylvania, where it had not. Their research showed that in that context, the minimum wage increase had no downward effect on the number of employees. Their finding went against the prevailing theory that assumed that an increase in the minimum wage would destroy jobs.

Despite endless jokes about economists such as “Economists have predicted six of the last two recessions” or “Economists were invented to make astrologers look good”, they do get plenty right, and since the new millennium, Angrist is the third Israeli to win the Nobel Prize for economics. The other two were Daniel Kahneman in 2002 and Robert Aumann in 2005 and their experiences and insights on the road to Stockholm remain eternally illuminating.

Calculated Risk

Although Israeli Daniel Kahneman received in 2002 the Nobel Prize for Economics he was a  psychologist who had never “taken a single economics course.”  The Tel Aviv-born Kahneman was recognized for changing the way economists grapple with decision-making, particularly during periods of uncertainty.

Kahneman explained the nature of his research to the peculiarity of people who are prepared to risk much more to get back money lost than they are to make the same amount. “For instance, if a gambler is losing steadily, the risks he would take to try to win back his losses and break even, are about twice as great as the risks he would take to gain the same amount of money had he been winning all along.”

Go figure!

Mind over Matter. Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman received the 2002 Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in applying psychological insights to economic theory.

Top Of His ‘Game’

How prescient these words of  Israeli Nobel 2005 for economics Nobel Laurette, Robert Aumann, who also was not an economist but a mathematician:

  “Science is exploration, exploration for the sake of exploration, and for nothing else. We must go where our curiosity leads us; we must go where we want to go. And eventually, it is sure to lead us to the beautiful, the important, and the useful.”

This “exploration’ led Aumann to Stockholm where together with Thomas Schelling, they shared the 2005 Nobel Prize for Economics for their work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis. Professor at the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert Aumann titled his acceptance speech “War and Peace” honouring Leo Tolstoy who he lamented did not receive a Nobel Prize but “like me, also had a long white beard.” War, unlike the popular view, “is not irrational – it is very rational, and we have to understand that to try preventing it.”

For me, life has been – and still is – one tremendous joyride, one magnificent tapestry.”

Highlighting the “good times”, Aumann cited:

 “The excitement of research, of groping in the dark and then hitting the light. The satisfaction of teaching, of meeting someone at a party who tells you that the course in complex variables that he heard from you twenty-five years ago was the most beautiful that he ever heard. The exhilaration of climbing on an almost vertical rock face; the beauty of a walk in the woods with a four-year-old grandchild, who spots and correctly identifies a tiny wild orchid about which you told him last week; dancing with your wife at your child’s wedding; unraveling an intricate passage in the Talmud with your eighteen-year-old granddaughter; slipping on a ski slope; tumbling two hundred meters down, and then going back and doing the same slope again – this time without slipping, or seeing the flag of Israel fluttering in the wind, right next to that of Sweden, from the roof of the Grand Hotel in Stockholm.”

Game Changer. Prof. Yisrael (Robert J.) Aumann received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in  2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis. He shared the prize with Thomas Schelling.  (Photo personal website)

Well, that blue and while flag will again be “fluttering” in Stockholm, despite some in the Israeli media focusing less on the achievement and more on the issue than Angrist lives mainly today in the USA. What a loss for Israel they write, instead of what a win for all mankind.

Through decades of research, Angrist and his colleagues have demonstrated that many of society’s big economic questions can be answered. Through their methodology of using “natural experiments” – situations arising in real life that resemble randomised experiments – we now have a considerably better understanding of how the labour market operates than we did 30 years ago.

Why is this important?

Because if we are to make good decisions, we must understand the consequences of our choices and this applies to individuals as well as public policy makers. For example, young people who are making educational choices, says Angrist, want to know how these might affect their future income. Choosing to go to “an expensive private college,  does that change your life course in the form of higher earnings?” Also, how much more would people earn if they chose to study longer? Will adding extra years of study improve one’s personal financial situation either through higher salary or  inspiring entrepreneurial ambition?

All this was less important to some in the Israeli media making more of Angrist living in the US. The Jerusalem Post went so far on its front page with an article “A dent in the Aliyah message” The sweet and less sweet in a Noble Prize”, where the writer compares Angrist leaving Israel for greener pastures to the biblical Abraham who makes Aliyah to Israel but leaves shortly afterwards because of a famine.

Big deal. Angrist relocated back to the USA to become an Associate Professor in MIT’s Economics Department and  by his own admission he did so “for more pay”. In other words the economist took a decision for sound economic reasons. The world today is a global village so no big surprise here.

Furthermore, what these articles neglected to consider in their critique, was that Angrist’s return to the US was way back in 1996, long before Israel’s economic miracle and the surge ahead in the hi-tech industry. It is a different Israel today with different opportunities. Even Angrist himself says that the reports on his leaving for financial reasons stemmed from a 2006 Jerusalem Post article on Israel’s brain drain at the time, no longer the situation today. Speaking with Israeli media, Angrist said he was proud to have won the prize as an Israeli and played down reports that he had left Israel because of low wages.

The Times They Are a-Changin. Israel’s reception into a changing Middle East as reflected on this  front page of the UAE’s English daily, Khaleej Times.

“Israel has a very respectable place in science and I am proud to contribute to that,” he told Channel 13 news.

Since Angrist’s relocation back to the States in 1996 for greener pastures, today Israel is the “greener pasture”. How else would you explain that  Israeli tech investment shattered all records in the first half of 2021 with Israel leading the  world in funding growth with a 137% year-over-year increase in the first half of 2021, reaching $10.5 billion.

With this new economic reality, this writer advocates less focus on Abraham leaving because of famine thousands of years ago and more on the 2020 Abraham Accords which has Israel increasingly integrating into the Middle East and Arab world with infinite economic opportunities. Israel today with her Arab partners is leading the way of showing the potential impact of peace on economics.

Now that will be monumental material for a future Nobel Prize, whether for ‘economics’ or ‘peace’.








While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

To the Rescue

Impacting Jewish destiny through education with “Melton” in the vanguard

By Viv Anstey (Melton Cape Town Director) and Lauren Snitcher (Recruitment & Marketing)

Are YOUR grandchildren going to be Jewish?  

We understand only too well, sadly, that there is no guarantee of that. With rising assimilation rates, intermarriage and couples choosing not to have children, the passing on of Judaism to the next generation “le dor va dor” is not a given.

Time and again studies, research and surveys have shown the importance of Jewish education in addressing this problem. The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is proud to be part of the solution ensuring Judaism and Jewish values live on through the generations. Melton offers adult learners the opportunity to explore our centuries old tradition through sequential and comprehensive text-based curricula and discover how they relate to us today. It offers a profound understanding of what it means to be Jewish.

The school engages adult learners in a life-long and life-enhancing study of Jewish texts and ideas that nurtures and deepens Jewish community worldwide. Through classes and travel seminars  – both in-person and online (even before the pandemic) – Melton learners are introduced to Jewish texts and ideas and discover how relevant they are to their lives. As students of their Jewish heritage, they find themselves part of a worldwide movement of passionate learners that can then themselves enrich Jewish life at all levels, from within their families to communal organisations to global initiatives.

Melton is the largest non-denominational, inclusive adult Jewish education network in the world, with over 40 Melton communities throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. More than 50,000 learners have experienced Melton’s professionally developed curricula and lively interactive classes.

This creative journey into the world of adult Jewish education began when a remarkable woman who began life in humble beginnings in Philadelphia, USA,  expanded her vision from taking care of millions of tired feet to uplifting people’s minds!

Inventor and activist Florence Zacks Melton (1911-2007) envisioned and endowed The Florence Melton Institute in 1986 as a project of the Melton Centre at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She sought to bring to life a comprehensive, relevant, and sophisticated programme of Jewish learning for adults. To this day, Melton attributes its values of accessibility, open-mindedness, integrity, community, and innovation to her enduring vision. Florence Melton saw in her lifetime that for most Jews, their Jewish education ended at Bar/Bat Mitzvah, if they were even lucky enough to have had a Jewish education up to that point. Florence was passionate about creating a programme of study to help adults attain Jewish literacy. She understood that for many, it was their lack of knowledge and familiarity with Jewish learning that seemed to close the doors for further Jewish engagement.

Shoulders, Feet & Minds

Born Florence Spurgeon to Meir and Rebecca Spurgeon in Philadelphia on November 6, 1911, at 19, she married Aaron Zacks, and the couple moved to Columbus, Ohio.

A housewife with an entrepreneurial flair, Florence invented Shoulda-Shams, washable cotton shoulder pads. She later then discovered she could use the material to line slippers which were marketed first as Angel Treads and later as Dearfoams. Florence’s slippers were a huge hit and were immediately successful, selling in their billions.

Firm Footing. From revolutionizing the footwear industry by inventing the world’s first foam-soled, washable slipper, Florence Zacks Melton would later revolutionise adult Jewish education.

Florence’s first husband, Aaron Zacks passed away in 1966 and in 1968, she married industrialist and philanthropist Samuel M. Melton, an Ohio stainless steel fittings tycoon and philanthropist, who served on the boards of many national Jewish charities.

Partners in Pursuit of Jewish Education. Husband of Florence, industrialist Sam Melton served on the Board of Governors of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, funded the construction of the Samuel Mendel Melton Building for Jewish Education on the Mount Scopus Campus and is credited with having donated more funds in support of Jewish education than any other individual philanthropist

Retiring from business in 1959, Sam Melton turned his attention fully to a range of community and educational philanthropic enterprises, including sponsorship of The Melton Research Center for Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, The Melton Center for Jewish Studies in Ohio State University in Columbus, and The Melton Centre for Jewish Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served on the Board of Governors of The Hebrew University and funded the construction of the Samuel Mendel Melton Building for Jewish Education on the Mount Scopus campus.

Melton Method. Commitment to the sustainability of Jewish culture and heritage through diverse forms of education.

Sam Melton is credited with having donated more funds in support of Jewish education than any other individual philanthropist.

Florence become an active partner to her husband’s philanthropic projects. Many were sceptical and had concerns about the number of adults that were interested in Jewish study or would even want to view Jewish Study as serious. But Florence, passionate about Judaism and education, perhaps because hers had been interrupted, was determined to empower adult Jews to “Enter The Jewish Conversation”. And so, together with her husband, Sam, in 1986 they created the “Florence Melton Adult Mini-School” – a two-year, non-denominational programme, which operated across North America, Australia and South Africa. To her credit, 35 years later, her school is still growing, stronger than ever. But instead of a 2- year programme, Melton students are still learning decades later.

Always One Step Ahead. From creator of slippers to the inventor and Jewish adult education, entrepreneur Florence Zacks Melton (1911 – 2007) was constantly in the vanguard. (Courtesy of Florence Melton Adult Mini-School)

The fervent passion of its founder, Florence Melton, to bring Jewish education to adult learners lives on to this day in Melton’s leadership, staff, Board, and directors.

Outreach from Jerusalem

Melton’s dual head offices are directed out of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, driven by Rabbi Dr Morey Schwartz, Melton International director, and New York City, led by Rabbi Rachel Bovitz, Melton Executive Director. In true inclusive Melton style, Melton is directed from Jerusalem in the East by a Modern Orthodox male rabbi and New York in the West, by a Conservative female rabbi.

Simply and more affectionately referred to today as “Melton”, the Florence Melton School Of Adult Jewish Learning is enriching the lives of participants across the world who are gaining Jewish literacy through a world class academic curriculum created by scholars and educators at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Melton can be described as an international network of community-based schools that aims to positively impact the destiny of the Jewish people by offering adults the opportunity to acquire Jewish literacy in an open, inclusive, cross-denominational, and intellectually stimulating learning environment.

The Melton Centre at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has expanded to a large community of eager adults that have a strong commitment to the sustainability of Jewish culture and heritage. As Israel’s first Centre for Jewish Education, the Centre offers a wide variety of research and other resources to accentuate the knowledge of its scholars, including a MA in Jewish Education.

What Makes Melton Unique

Melton learners participate in multi-session courses (ranging from 4 to 30 weeks) that make Jewish texts and ideas accessible, relevant and inspirational. Melton learning is text-based and is designed to be studied within an environment of openness, where questioning and dialogue are encouraged. There are no examinations or tests. The only prerequisite is a commitment to learn. Many of our learners choose to make Jewish learning a way of life.

Network of Learners

Melton learning is powered by an international network of communities. Local offerings (online or in person) are augmented with Melton International’s online learning as well as travel seminars that unite our global community of adult Jewish learners. During 2020 and 2021, due to Covid-19, all our classes moved online, including our first-class travel seminars which have become virtual reality tours, proving almost as good as the real thing, enabling “travel” at a time when physically that has not been possible.

Engaging and Sophisticated Curriculum

Written by talented, insightful scholars and reviewed by experts at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, our extensive and ever- growing selection of courses engages learners with a variety of interests.

Towers Head and Shoulders. A Shoulda-Shams department store advertisement in August 1947 (source: Google News)
 

Quality Teaching and Learning

Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Centres, Bureaus of Jewish Education, Synagogues, and community coalitions are natural partners with the Melton School. This ensures a community commitment to maintaining the high level of quality expected of each Melton School. To preserve the high standards which are the hallmark of the Melton School, alumni, local faculty members and educators within their communities participate in ongoing professional enrichment offered through Melton itself or The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Directors attend the yearly International Directors Conference which alternates between America and Israel. In 2020 it was held online with great success.

Israel-Diaspora Partnership

Being a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, being staffed internationally from Israel and America, having travel seminars criss-crossing the land of Israel as well as the Diaspora, alternating the Directors’ conferences between America and Israel and having Melton schools across the Jewish world, the Israel-Diaspora relationship is powerful and symbiotic. Many courses have an Israel component so the links between Israel and the Jewish diaspora are deep and lasting.

Courses On Offer

Our text-based curricula are the hallmark of Melton’s success and keeps Melton students returning for more for close to 40 years. Students come for the learning and stay for the community, creating close friendships with their classmates often extending far beyond the classroom.

From our initial core course which spanned a 2-year curricula, covering the Jewish Calendar and Life Cycle, Jewish Philosophy, Jewish History and Jewish Ethics, Melton now proudly offers approximately 40 more courses.

Examples of Melton courses are:

Shivim Panim– a series covering all 5 books of the Torah; Foundations of Jewish Living – teaching Jewish Values to parents and grandparents of young children; Beyond Borders – The History of the Arab Israeli Conflict; Israeli Literature As a Window to Israeli Society; The Holocaust as Reflected In Diaries and Memoirs; Biblical Women – Emerging From the Margins Through Midrash; Jewish Denominations; The Star and The Crescent – A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations; Jewish Medical Ethics; Jewish Mysticism; Social Justice – The Heart Of Judaism In Theory And Practice and Jews In America – Insiders And Outsiders; Jewish Answers to life’s most challenging questions, Yesod – Jewish Leadership

Inspiring Today and Tomorrow’s Generations. Viv Anstey and Lauren Snitcher at the Melton School of Adult Jewish Education, Cape Town, South Africa.

In  a recent research study two-thirds of those interviewed reported a strengthening or enhancement in different facets of Jewish life.

By offering a robust menu of online courses during these challenging times, Melton has been able to:

  • Increase its reach internationally to individuals in communities otherwise not serviced by Melton
  • Introduce Melton courses to new learners
  • Re-engage former learners with new offerings
  • Develop high quality digital pedagogy
  •  expand its partnerships

Since 2006, we have, under the umbrella of the Midrasha Adult Education Institute enriched lives within and beyond the Cape Town Jewish community to an ever-increasing global student body.

Midrasha offers Melton courses as well as their own home-grown Midrasha courses, with a faculty of talented intellectual and academic experts. It boasts over 3500 graduates inclusive of all sectors of Cape Town Jewry and beyond.

Enriching Education. Adult students at the Melton School in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our latest Midrasha course on SA Jewish History:  Dilemmas & Debates is FULL.  Let us know if you are interested so that we can place you on a waiting list for a repeat of this course in 2022.

To end the year on a high note, we will be running Melton’s “From Sinai to Seinfeld: Jews and Their Jokes”.

For more information on Melton Cape Town contact Lauren Snitcher at lauren@snitcher.org or +27828802257 or visit www.meltoncapetown.org




About the writers:

Viv Anstey is the Director of the Midrasha Adult Education Institute incorporating the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and is also currently Director of The Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute. she is founding member of Limmud South Africa, first Director of SA Jewish Museum, co-driver of PJ Library and the Jewish Literary Festival. Viv currently serves on the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies as elected committee member and previously on its executive as vice-chair.



Lauren Snitcher graduated as a BA.LLB(UCT) and has worked as an attorney in Cape Town.  She is passionate about Jewish Education and after completing the Melton Course in 2008, she took on the position of recruitment and marketing for Melton Cape Town. As part of her interest in her Jewish Heritage and as a descendant of an Ochberg orphan, she undertook extensive research and travel, resulting in the creation of an Oscar short-listed documentary movie, “Ochberg’s Orphans”.










While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Education is Eternal – Netzach Yisrael

Improving the education system for Israel’s Haredi community will help to improve their economic situation – and the country’s

By Rolene Marks

Rabbi Menachem Bombach is a man with a mission. The charismatic Rabbi, raised in the ultra-religious neighbourhood of Jerusalem known as Mea Shearim and who did not speak Hebrew until the age of 20, has a plan to bring about significant change to the Haredi approach to education.

The statistics speak for themselves.

According to the Israeli central Bureau of Statistics, the Haredi community makes up about 12% of the population, with an estimated size of roughly 1 million people – and is amongst the most poor, with 50% living below the poverty line. The Haredi community is also the fastest growing community.

The employment rate of Haredi men is at 51% compared to secular men at 87%. The rate for Haredi women in the workplace is 76% but many are forced to take low paying jobs as a result of their lack of skills.

Even though there is a larger percentage of Haredi women who are employed in the work force, it does not necessarily ensure an improvement in living conditions and the economic situation for the community.

It is clear that this cannot continue – if it does, the effects will be catastrophic.

Enter Rabbi Bombach.

Rabbi Bombach has identified a crucial element to ensuring that this alarming trend is corrected. The Rabbi believes that the key to fixing this growing problem which perpetuates the cycle of poverty, is reforming the Haredi education system. The more members of the community who are educated and receive a matriculation certificate, with skills in significant subjects like maths, English and even Hebrew, the more they will be able to enter into the workplace – and get better jobs. He believes that the current economic situation would not continue if members of the Haredi community were more integrated and productive in society.

Inspired by this, Rabbi Bombach started “Netzach Yisrael”. Established in 2017, Netzach is an ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) network of educational institutions (elementary through to post-high school) whose mission it is to provide its students with an outstanding education and in parallel, work towards a bagrut (matriculation) certificate, which is a prerequisite for higher education in Israel. These studies include mathematics, English, the sciences and civics for both elementary and high school students.

Rabbi Bombach has always been drawn to education. When he was just 12-years-old, he would often lead his peers in Shabbat afternoon prayers. He knew that education would be part of his future.

The Rabbi would go on to study after he finished his schooling and met other students from different communities and societies, including Arabs, secular Jews and others. It was eye-opening. Integrating with other people went a long way to breaking down pre-conceived stereotypes and prejudices and opened his eyes to the ability to stay Haredi – while meeting other people.

Bombach believes in the philosophy that “Jews need to radiate light to each other”.

And so Netzach Yisrael was started. At first, many in the community were skeptical and did not want to send their children to school, but slowly it started to grow and now there are over 1000 students at 11 different educational facilities, with at least 3 700 students attending virtually.

Time for Change. Through a new yeshiva system that he founded in  in Israel, Rabbi Menachem Bombach is determined on reducing poverty in the Haredi community through education, preparing them to attend college and enter the workforce.

There have been several notable success stories. One young student is excelling as an activist talking about climate change, a topic that one would not expect members of the Haredi community to be vocal about. At least 95% of the students who have come through the Netzach Yisrael programme are fully integrated and have gone on to university. This aligns with the focus of having modern, pragmatic Haredim and will improve the economic situation of the community.

Netzach Yisrael’s vision is that the academic programme empowers graduates to create a strong, financially viable future for themselves, their future families, and the Israeli economy, while remaining strongly connected to their core values of Torah observance.

The ethos and values of the Netzach Yisrael programme are very clear – Torah and the worship of G-d by instilling the foundations of faith, worshiping G-d, and the study of Torah as a way of life, Education furthering Derech Eretz, truth, virtue and love of Israel, imparting knowledge, life, social and learning skills and striving for excellence and cultivating personal and social responsibility that is reflected in working for the common good and involvement in the community.

Bombach in Action. This Hasidic Educator is changing the face of Haredi education in Israel

Over seventy years ago, when the State of Israel was formed, the only choice for Haredim was to study Torah,” says Rabbi Bombach. “This was not good for the majority. We can combine religious and secular studies, while maintaining the connection with the community,” he says.

Bucking Tradition. Despite being vilified by his co-religionists, Rabbi Bombach teaches secular subjects to boys.

Today, the proof of success is in the growing statistics of students who have thrived in the Netzach Yisrael programme and continue to excel in tertiary education and beyond. The once skeptical parents are writing glowing testimonials and there is no doubt that Israel will benefit. This truly is proof that a great education, combined with dedications and knowledge of your roots and community – is eternal.

For more information visit: https://netzach.org.il/en/home/








While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Zzapping Malaria

One of the most dangerous creatures in the world is one of the smallest – the mosquito. Coming to the rescue is one of the smallest counties in the world – Israel.

By Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Who is not afraid of sharks but in 2019 they killed only two people, which is below the average of four. Yet malaria, carried by mosquitoes, kills more than 400,000 people per year, most of them babies and toddlers in sub-Saharan Africa. While much of the world is obsessed with the danger that which kills two a year, Israel, whose Jerusalem-based start-up, ZzappMalaria, aims to eliminate malaria – a mass killer – by applying Artificial Intelligence (AI). Towards this lifesaving goal – particularly for Africa where I am from – the company has grabbed the world’s biggest prize for innovation – the XPRIZE.

Meet the Team using AI to Eradicate Malaria. The ZzappMalaria team (left to right): Eugene Rozenberg, Lea Leiman, Michael Ben Aharon, Founder and CEO Arnon Houri-Yafin, Arbel Vigodny, Yonatan Fialkoff

For those unfamiliar, XPRIZE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity” through incentivized competition.

Developing a mobile app and dashboard to help eliminate Malaria, ZzappMalaria, won first place in the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE Competition, as well as the People’s Choice Award for the Most Inspiring Team. As part of the award, the company received a $3 million prize to continue its efforts to eliminate malaria from the world.

Tiny Terrors. Image of mosquito larvae in stagnant water by James Gathany of the CDC in PLoS Biology, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. AI helps zap mosquito larvae before they become a problem.

The Zzapp team is deeply grateful to Xprize and IBM Watson for acknowledging the importance of the fight against malaria,” said Arnon Houri-Yafin, CEO and founder of ZzappMalaria. “We will dedicate the prize money to one ambitious goal: demonstrating that rapid malaria elimination is possible in Sub Saharan Africa.”

Making the World Safer. ZzappMalaria COO Arbel Vigodny speaks at IBM Watson AI XPRIZE at TED in the TED World Theater, February 12, 2020, New York, NY. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

So how does it work? Zzapp uses AI to provide specific malaria-control strategies depending on the needs of each village or neighborhood. Then, it breaks down those strategies into clear and manageable tasks. Tasks are allocated to fieldworkers via its mobile app designed for local needs, such as battery consumption, internet access, and more. To date, the app has been tested in six African countries and has succeeded in increasing the effectiveness of operations designed to tackle Malaria.

Brought to Task. The Zzapp app assigns tasks to field workers based on AI analysis of mosquito breeding conditions. (Photo courtesy of Zzapp Malaria)

Attracted by ZzappMalaria’s aim to eradicate malaria worldwide by developing a system to “plan, execute, and monitor large-scale and cost-affecting malaria elimination campaigns”, the 2016-founded company has won grants from the Gates Foundation and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) and has been conducting anti-malaria operations in Ghana, Zanzibar, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

It is very gratifying to know that our technology is saving lives on a daily basis. In fact, our pilot product currently protects more than 300,000 people,” said Houri-Yafin. “ZzappMalaria’s app – which is GPS-based and works offline – is suited to work in the harshest conditions.”

Scanning for Safety. A field worker uses ZzappMalaria to scan bodies of water set for treatment. (Courtesy)

“It simplifies our work considerably,” says Dr. Abebe Asale from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, a research body in Ethiopia which specializes in malaria. “Despite the technology’s sophistication, the app and the dashboard are very intuitive and user-friendly. In an operation in the Amhara region in 2019, we located all of the water bodies, which is usually a great challenge. The technology saved us time and energy, and in prioritizing severely affected villages.”

Although malaria is not a major public health problem in South Africa as yet, the country needs to be better prepared in order to ensure that the disease does not burden our over-extended public health care sector. It can do so by adopting efficient measures such as the AI method developed by ZzappMalaria. The notion of “prevention is better than cure” should reign supreme in our heads to ensure that our public health is prepared.

The Beauty of the App. The Israeli app can be used without internet connectivity by workers in fields. (Photo: ZzappMalaria)

About 10% of South Africa’s population (4.9 million) is at risk of contracting malaria, largely in the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal. This is a significant number that should be a concern to all of us in South Africa. Malaria is a curable and treatable disease as long as it is diagnosed as quickly as possible. However, it is fatal if not done so in the earlier stages. That is where this new app becomes so vital. So, while many countries of Africa are increasingly availing themselves of life-saving Israeli technology and expertise, South Africa should too for the health and future health of its people.  

Acting on Info. With the information provided, spraying mosquito larvae in Ghana. (Photo by Arbel Vigodny/ZZapp Malaria)
 

As the world is facing a life-threatening Covid-19 pandemic, we are able to see the importance of life-saving discoveries in reducing casualties. It is clear that failure to avail ourselves of new available technologies, the price to be paid would be higher than what we are paying presently

ZzappMalaria has inspired confidence in those who were in despair and had accepted malaria as part of their being. Now, thanks to this Israeli company, there is much greater hope that malaria would be eradicated in our lifetime.


About the writer:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kenneth-Mokgatlhe1.png

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is a freelance writer and political commentator from Zeerust, North West Province, South Africa.







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).



Crystal Clear

A co-recipient of the 2021 Wolf Prize, Israeli scientist – a former South African – solves a 140-year-old complex riddle

By David E. Kaplan

Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize – an annual international award given to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world –  have been handed out for the past 43 years to 354 leading scientists and artists including Israel’s Prof. Ada Yonath, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2009. To this illustrious list, we can now add  the 2021 recipients,  that includes a former South African, Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz  who with his longstanding collegial partner Prof. Meir Lahav, both of the Weitzman Institute’s Molecular Chemistry and Materials Science Department for their collaborative establishment of the ”fundamental reciprocal influences of three-dimensional molecular structure upon structures of organic crystals.”

Awarded for “achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people … irrespective of nationality, race, colour, religion, sex or political views,” there is no doubt that Leslie and Meirs’ scientific discoveries have truly contributed towards “the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people”.

They have at the same time solved a riddle!

The Wolf Prize ceremony at the Knesset, Jerusalem

Resolving a Riddle

Crystal formation is one of the most fundamental phenomena in chemistry and the structure of organic crystals is of particular importance because the crystal shape (morphology) reflects the three-dimensional structure (stereochemistry) of the molecules assembled in that crystal. In 1848, the famed French chemist microbiologist. Louis Pasteur conducted his famous experiment, physically separating the two crystalline forms of a tartaric acid salt, which mirror one another. Pasteur’s experiment became the basis for modern stereochemistry, and it was followed by the study of the first Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Jacobus H. van’t Hoff from Holland. However, neither Pasteur nor van’t Hoff, nor many of the other famous chemists  that followed would come to understand the relationship between crystal morphology and molecular stereochemistry until 140 years had passed and two Israelis, Professors Lahav and Leiserowitz conducted their milestone experiments in the Mid-1980s. These experiments demonstrated for the first time that the absolute configuration of molecules can be derived from their crystal morphologies. They not only solved the long-standing puzzle; but according to the Wolf Foundation press release:

they also pioneered the science of organic crystals’ stereochemistry. They directly related the stereochemistry of the individual molecule to the shape of the macroscopic crystal. They founded the links between molecular structure, crystal morphology, crystal growth’ dynamics, and molecular chirality (the structural property of an object, which makes it different from its mirror image, like the human hands). Their findings laid the foundation for our current knowledge of the selective self-assembly of organic molecules. In this way, their rules powerfully complement our understanding of organic chemistry for covalent assembly and macromolecules’ self-assembly.”

When Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz was awarded the 2016 Israel Prize for ‘Chemistry and Physics’ with Prof. Meir Lahav, he was only the third South African Israeli to receive Israel’s highest civilian award. The other two recipients had been Dr. Ian Froman in 1989 for his contribution to society through sport, and the late Hillel Deleski in 2000 for the study of English literature.

Interviewing Leiserowitz at the time, he explained to me by posing these questions:

How and why do artery-blocking chunks of cholesterol form?”

What happens at the very first stage of the transition from water to ice?”

What can be done to prevent the formation of gallstones or the crystals in the joints that cause pain in gout?”

These are all questions about one of the more important processes in nature: crystallization, and Leslie and Professor Lahav have worked separately and together over their careers to investigate this process.

Collaborating on Crystals. Recipients of the 2021 Wolf Prize in Chemistry,  Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz (Left) and Prof. Meir Lahav of the  Molecular Chemistry and Materials Science Department at the Weizmann Institute.

Indebted to Mom!

Born in Johannesburg in 1934, Leslie obtained a BSc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and during an ensuing 18-month period “of work, unemployment and travel,” he became fascinated in a field of chemistry that drew him to an illuminating work – “The Crystalline State” by Brag & Bragg. “The symmetry of the crystal structures therein,” intrigued Leslie, reminding him “of the patterns my mother worked with as a dressmaker in Johannesburg.”

This curiosity, coupled with a knowledge of “microwave interference”, led him to his next marker on his academic path – “The Optical Principles of the Distraction of X-rays” by R.W. James, who was Professor of Physic at UCT. With now a clear direction, the young budding scientist studied for an MSc in X-ray crystallography in the Physics Dept. at UCT.

Following his travels to London and then on to Israel “with my good friend”, the future South African Jewish leader Mervyn Smith, who he knew “from our Bellville days,” he joined in 1959, the research group of Gerhard Schmidt at the Weizmann Institute of Science as a PhD student in solid-state chemistry.

Leslie’s journey of research, took him to academic posts abroad, and in more recent years, focused on a childhood fascination with the study of malaria – a project, which he says, “in some ways is a continuation of my original research with Prof. Lahav on crystal growth. It was not generally appreciated that this infectious disease is intimately connected with crystallization.” Leslie reveals that growing up in Johannesburg, “I learnt from my father, who had spent long stretches of time in Central Africa, the full ravages of the disease.”

It was an area of study that Leslie felt compelled to study and most assuredly gels with the spirit of the wording of the Wolf Prize of contributing towards “the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people”.

If Leslie’s mother, who died young – “only in her forties” – was today looking down from her celestial perch, she would be amazed and proud that from the simple patterns of her daily dressmaking, lay the complex mysteries that would inspire her brilliant son to pursue a journey of scientific exploration culminating in the 2016 Israel Prize and the 2021 Wolf Prize.

Maybe, she had a “crystal ball”, and foresaw it all coming!

The 2021 Wolf Prize in chemistry that was awarded to Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz and Prof. Meir Lahav.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Mindsets to Markets

The Stef Wertheimer formulae for Middle East  regional stability where “the battlefield today should only be the market place”

By David E. Kaplan

Reading in the latest Forbes ranking industrialist Stef Wertheimer as Israel’s wealthiest citizen with a net worth of $6.2 billion in its annual ranking of the wealthiest billionaires in the world,  reminded me of my interview with him in 2011.

Israelis in the Pack. Twenty-one Israelis appear in Forbes 2021 billionaires list with  Stef Wertheimer as the country’s richest citizen with a personal fortune of $6.2 billion.

 It also made me think that Israel’s premier industrialist would not have been pleased with the nature of exposure!

Why do I assume this?

Well, before I even began that decade-old interview, Stef said:

I hope you were not planning on asking me about the Buffett deal?”

I was taken back!

Movers & Shakers. Stef Wertheimer showing Warren Buffett (left)  around  Tefen in northern Israel Israel. (Photo by FLASH90)

The “Buffett deal” of 2006 was not just any deal but the most highly publicised one at the time in Israel’s history. Yes, it was when Warren Buffett‘s investment company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.,  acquired 80% of Wertheimer’s  Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) for $4 billion. Not only was it a ‘big deal’  for Israel, but also for Buffett being his largest acquisition outside the USA! This was a huge endorsement of Israel, so yes, I had planned to anchor my article on ‘the Buffett deal’. I had also been  spurred on by Buffett revealing shortly before our interview in 2010 that he   he would like to invest more in Israel, believing that Israel has a sustainable advantage in the global competitive market place, saying:

 “If you are looking for brains – stop in Israel.”

Puzzled, I asked Stef why he was so against discussing the deal, after all, “it made your family and your company household names – globally?”

Man on a Mission. Stef Wertheimer – a warrior for peace and prosperity

His explanation was instructive.

“Why do you think that the Berkshire Hathaway deal is any more important than the first deal I did with my fledgling company operating out of my house in Nahariya in the early 1950s?”

Seeing my perplexed look, he continued:

It you disregard the amounts of money in the equation and focus on impact then the first 1950s deal was far more historically significant than the Berkshire Hathaway deal.”

The message was clear. Beneath the veneer of being bedazzled by billions, Wertheimer was directing the interview to a far more philosophical rather than simple monetary assessment of the word “value”.

Factory Floor. A young highly motivated Stef Wertheimer (center) in his backyard Iscar workshop in Nahariya in the early 1950s. (Photo: private)

Early Days

Stef Wertheimer was born in Kikenheim, Germany in 1926, the son of a musician and decorated war veteran of the Great War. In 1936, with the Nazis entrenched in power, the Wertheimer family fled Germany for Palestine.  “I was 10 years old,” he said, “so they did not ask me.”

Following learning a trade as an apprentice to a refugee, Stef, at age eighteen, joined the newly established Israel Air force flight school. Although he graduated as a pilot, the army was far more interested in his skills in metal processing. Given the important task of developing weapons, no one in those days would have imagined that young Stef was well on his way to becoming a global industrialist and ‘warrior’ for peace.

Rearing to Go. The refugee child from southern Baden, Germany, Stef Wertheimer as a teenager in Tel Aviv.

When the State of Israel came into being and the battles ended, he started his cutting-tool factory from his home in Nahariya – then a small coastal town in northern Israel – with a borrowed lathe and a loan from a local butcher.

“Living in Nahariya, I used to ride my motorbike to kibbutz Hanita where I paid for the use of a machine. I then decided in 1952 to work at home and started with small blade sharpener which cost 40 lirot. My ‘factory floor’ was the balcony off our kitchen. I called my business Iscar and it was a case of family and factory sharing the same premises. As the business expanded and required more space, I invaded the bedroom and shifted the beds into the corridor. In between all this, Irit, my baby daughter was riding around on her tricycle taking bites of food from my workers. That is how she cultivated a liking for harif (hot) cuisine from my Mizrahi (Eastern Jews) workers.”

These were humble beginnings but the makings of what would amount global news in the future.

Battlefields for Peace

Known as the father of Israel’s “Industrial Parks”, establishing his first Tefen Industrial Park in 1982  in the northern Galilee –  “to foster economic growth and job creation and so help create stability in the region” – it became the model for all the parks that followed. He became animated describing then his latest and sixth park, located in Nazareth that “will be managed by Arabs but essentially where Jews and Arabs will work together. It’s a model for coexistence, where people work with each rather than against each other. The battlefield today should only be the market place.”

Aiming High. The ISCAR World Headquarters and Central Manufacturing Facilities located in Tefen in the high hills of Israel.

This argument had added resonance at the time as the Middle East in 2011 was gripped in the turmoil of the Arab Spring that had begun in response of citizens across the Middle East rising up against their autocratic regimes for their low standards of living. This Wertheimer understood well and in a series of articles he penned at the time, was advocating a type of ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Middle East of mass industrialization as a tool for regional harmony. More than ideology or religion, they needed – JOBS and jobs in mass manufacturing

Explaining, he said, “if people are highly skilled, earning good salaries and enjoying job satisfaction, there will be less urge for individuals or nation states to resort to violence to achieve their aspirations. Religious fanatics only flourish where poverty and despair rule. But to achieve an industrial revolution, we need too, a revolution in our educational system to produce a skilled working workforce.”

A portend of things to come, our interview also took place a few months before the Social Justice protests across Israel, when starting in July 2011, hundreds of thousands of protestors from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds opposed the continuing rise in the cost of living – particularly housing.

These were hardly the people with a mindset for factory floors but Wertheimer understood but pressed his case for a change in mindsets.

Sure, we prefer to pursue the ‘clean’ professions because we are pressurized by our parents. This is embedded in our culture where we have an aversion to roll up our sleeves and getting our fingers dirty. For this reason, Jews gravitate to commerce and the professions rather than into industry. This needs to change.”

And to my next question of how we break from tradition if it’s so imbedded in our culture, Wertheimer replied:

“One need look no further for a shining example than one of our revered Zionist pioneers, A.D. Gordon. Was he suited to work in the fields? Definitely not. He was an elderly intellectual, of no great physical strength and with no experience doing manual labour, but he took up the hoe and worked in the fields. By personal example, he provided the inspiration for generations of Zionist pioneers to create a Jewish economy by physically working the land. By personal example, he showed how manual labour, so essential to the creation of the state, was honourable and enriching work.”

His argument was we need that same insight and spirit of A.D. Gordon to move new generations not to the fields but to factory floors. “In the same way that tilling the land in the early days was considered honourable, so today we need to correct the erroneous notion that manual labour is “low”. Nations with the most dynamic economies such as China, India, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark and France have introduced a dual system of technical education that combines classroom learning with on-sight internships in various industries. We need to do the same.”

Book of Revelations. Says Warren Buffett, “There’s no better way to explain the miracle of Israel than to examine the life of Stef Wertheimer.”

And as to what progress Wertheimer had made so far towards this goal, he explained:

“I have for over 50 years created and run technical education programmes. Along the way, I have established six technical schools, including one in the army and one in the navy. These are schools where young people can learn a trade and acquire skills of a very high standard.  I have also established schools where we teach teachers in vocational training because this is so lacking in this country. I cannot stress enough – we have enough bankers and lawyers; we need people with skills and when they receive the recognition they deserve, attitudes will change. This is the way forward for Jews and Arabs to stand together. Their battlefield is the factory floor, their common enemy – their competitors in the overseas markets.”

Making an Impact. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (right) with Stef Wertheimer at the “Collective Impact” employment project, in Nazareth, Israel, on April 6, 2016.
 

Embellishing on his Marshall Plan for the Middle East that there cannot be real peace in the region unless neighbouring countries enjoy similar economic prosperity, he explained:

“If Israel has been a success story, we could be more of a success by helping our neighbours more than ourselves. They need to believe that they are on the same path to prosperity as us. We need to expend far more of our resources on peace rather than on war. Can you imagine if we built Industrial Parks like we have in Israel all over the Middle East, the impact it would have on regional peace and stability? People don’t know, but the money the government spends on ONE fighter plane could pay for FIVE industrial parks. Think of it – which offers a better return on the investment?”

Imagine if there were hundreds of these “Pockets of Peace” all over the Middle East? “Who would have the time or inclination for war? People would be too busy creating than destroying.”

This vision has been passed onto his son Eitan, today the CEO of Iscar.

Fostering Peaceful Coexistence. At the grand opening in April 2013 of this industrial park in the predominantly Christian-Arab city of Nazareth, Wertheimer and Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jeraisy explained that the industrial park is part of a unique model to promote the advancement of Arab-Jewish Israeli export companies. During his visit to Israel in 2009, Pope Benedict had met with both men at the site of the future park and gave his blessing to the project.

“There are no bad people. There are just people without a future and people with a future. Once you create a future, peace will come. The model is already in place. It only needs to be adapted elsewhere – to build a region of conflict into islands of hope.”

“We need people like Stef, who live for their ideas and bring them alive through commitment and pragmatism,” expressed the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schaeuble in 2008 on presenting  the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal to Wertheimer for his contribution to Christian-Jewish understanding.

Possibly the accolade that best sums up Stef Wertheimer’s contribution to the State of Israel came from his good friend, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who said, “Stef, hopefully, if there were more people like you, not many, maybe just 20, the country would be completely different.”

Laughing all the Way to the Bank

A few years after Israel’s War of Independence (1948-1949), Stef found himself sitting on a bus with a young woman he had met in their days in the Palmach, the pre-independence, elite fighting force.

So Stef, what you doing with yourself now? Any plans?”

Yes, to go into industry; I want to start my own business.”

 “What?” she asked and laughed so loud everyone on the bus stared at them. After all, the country was poor; many foodstuffs were hard to come by.

However, six decades later, what began from a loan from a butcher and a borrowed lathe working in his backyard, grew into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of metal cutting tools, which are used by carmakers, shipbuilders and aerospace industries.

Who had the last laugh?







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Israel Sends Vaccines to Palestinians

By Rolene Marks

Israel is currently the world leader in rolling out the vaccine and it is predicted that nearly all adults will be vaccinated by next month. Along with this great achievement, has come a certain level of criticism focusing on whether or not Israel is responsible for vaccinating the neighbouring Palestinian populations in Gaza and the West Bank. It is extremely important to understand what the situation on the ground is before making accusations like the one in the article “Israel violates international law by blocking vaccines to Gaza”.

Since the start of the global pandemic, Israel has been cooperating with  our Palestinians neighbours, ensuring that they receive much needed testing kits, PPE, training and other medical necessities through the relevant authorities, NGO’s and COGAT, the IDF unit responsible. This effort was lauded by UN Special Envoy to the region, Nikolay Mladenov.

People waiting in line to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in Jerusalem. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

In an official statement dated November 26, 2020, issued to the residents of the Gaza Strip by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, IDF Maj. Gen. Abu Rukun stated:

   “We find it important to emphasize clearly that neither I, nor the organization that I head, nor any other representative of Israel, has obstructed any request or requirement for the entry of medical aid of any kind. We welcome all assistance from all the various sources. In light of the situation, COGAT is allowing assistance from the international community to the health system of the Gaza Strip.

IDF Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun chief Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)

So far, many dozens of ventilator machines have arrived, as well as many PCR machines, which have increased the pace of testing from 200 to 2,500 tests a day.    Dozens of oxygen generators have arrived, and hundreds of inhalers for hospital use and home use. Hundreds of hospital beds have been added, and with our coordination, approximately 600 tons of essential medications and medical equipment have been allowed entry, including tens of thousands of coronavirus testing kits.

    All that assistance can help the health system to provide care and save lives. COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge, and it behooves all parties to strive for a solution to that challenge.”

The Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas who is recognized internationally as a terrorist organization.

Distributing Covid aid and vaccines has not been without its challenges. Two plane loads of Covid aid from the United Arab Emirates was summarily rejected by the Palestinian Authority “because it was coordinated with Israel and landed at Ben Gurion airport”. This aid was subsequently distributed with the help of the World Health Organisation and UN. The rationale for refusal according to a Palestinian government source was that “Palestinians refuse to be a bridge [for Arab countries] seeking to have normalised ties with Israel.”

In May 2020, Palestinian Authority rejected UAE aid sent via Israeli airport giving its reason  that it would be seen as a ‘cover for normalisation’ of ties with Israel”.
 

The Israeli government moved decisively and quickly to procure vaccinations as soon as they were able, in order to inoculate our citizens. The roll out has been an exceptional achievement, applauded by many around the world. At the end of December 2020, a Palestinian Health Ministry official stated “we do not need or require help from Israel to procure vaccines. We have our own health ministry and are not an extension of the defense ministry (of Israel).” Israel is on record as stating that while vaccinating our citizens remains the priority, we will help the Palestinians as needed.

Is Israel legally responsible for vaccinating Palestinians?

Israelis and the Palestinian Authority are both signatories to the 1995 Oslo Peace Accords, which awards Palestinians autonomy with their healthcare, including responsibility for vaccines. For Israel to take responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian population, it would be a violation of this autonomy.

In article 17 of the Third (Civilian) annex to the Oslo 2 accord, the Palestinian side assumed full powers and responsibilities in the field of health care. They undertook in paragraph 2 of article 17:

 “…to continue to apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations.”

In paragraphs 6 and 7, they agreed that:

   “Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”

Similarly:

    “The health systems of Israel and of the Palestinian side will maintain good working relations in all matters, including mutual assistance in providing first aid in cases of emergency, medical instruction, professional training and exchange of information.”

This is a clear case of Israel is damned if it does – and damned if it doesn’t. The Palestinian Authority  have received Russian Sputnik vaccines as part of the international  Covax scheme. Israel began vaccinating over 120,000 Palestinian workers who enter the country daily with legal permits as well as sent vaccines to the Palestinian Authority to vaccinate healthcare workers. By admission from PA officials, some of these vaccines did not go to healthcare workers as intended but rather to the Palestinian soccer team and government officials. Perhaps corruption and cronyism is more to blame than the convenient finger pointing at Israel.

A Palestinian health worker is vaccinated against COVID-19 after the delivery of doses from Israel in West Bank city of Bethlehem. (REUTERS – MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA)

Israel has sent vaccines into the Gaza strip and while there is a  legal maritime blockade in place that is recognized by the United Nations, it has not prohibited Israel in ensuring aid and vaccines continues to enter the strip. Israel, the West bank and the Gaza strip share the same epidemiological footprint and so Israel has ensured that vaccines continue to be distributed to our neighbours. Epidemiological and moral responsibility require both Israel and the Palestinians to act responsibly and to cooperate with a view to reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading between their respective territories and as such regardless of not being legally bound, Israel continues to send vaccines. Accusations of such as the one made in the above mentioned article are extremely unproductive, unhelpful and devoid of fact. In the interest of a global triumph over a pandemic that has already destroyed so much, please do not let it further erode the integrity of responsible reporting.

A health worker prepares to vaccinate former Palestinian health minister Jawad Tibi against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Gaza City February 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Fast Times at IDC Herzliya

Aspiring like their male counterparts for pole position in Israel’s hi-tech revolution, an increasing number of women students are enrolling at IDC Herzliya’s Efi Arazi School of Computer Science

By David E. Kaplan

I want to be part of changing the world and the way we live life,” says Liat Shaer, a student from South Africa at the IDC Herzliya’s Efi Arazi School of Computer Science. Such words would make the late Israeli hi-tech pioneer and visionary proud. Efi Arazi was a fearless larger-than-life role model who showed how to build global high-tech startups, long before the word high-tech was invented!

School for Success. Students at the Efi Arazi School  of Computer Science receive an average of three job offers from the biggest high-tech companies during their last year of studies.

Israel has well earned the nickname “Startup Nation” for its outside-the-box entrepreneurship. With a population of approximately nine million, it has the largest number of startups per capita in the world – around one startup per 1,400 people. This “WOW” phenomenon increasingly catches the eye of companies with global reach and aspirations and preparing tomorrow’s  leaders in this field are many of today’s students gravitating towards Computer Science.  

Many more of them today  – are young women!

This exciting trend is all too evident at Israel’s first and only private university – the IDC Herzliya – proud of its high percentage of female students studying at the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science.

From a high of 30% in the 2019-2020 academic year, it has risen to an unprecedented 37% in the 2020-2021 year. 

Deputy Dean of the Efi Arazi School, Prof. Anat Bremler-Barr, attributes the increase in the number of women at the school to two main factors:

  • Attracted by the availability of well-paid jobs – a global trend –  in the field of Computer Science
  • A successful outreach by the Efi Arazi School and IDC Herzliya to encourage more female students to enroll in Computer Science as part of a policy of supporting woman empowerment in the market place.

Not only are events held annually that are targeted towards encouraging women to join the school, says Bremler-Bar, but in addition,  “30 percent of faculty members are women, a significantly higher percentage than in other universities, which helps attract more female students.”

Many of these are foreign students who are studying Computer Science in English at the IDC Herzliya’s Raphael Recanati International School.

Lay Of The Land spoke to some of these young women students to understand what steered then to a field once so dominated by men.

Liat Shear who matriculated at Yeshiva college in Johannesburg, South Africa, says she chose to study Computer Science as “an excellent degree which develops and teaches skills that are very relevant in 2021 and will continue to be so in the future. It allows its students to enter a wide variety of fields and prepares them for the many technological challenges being faced worldwide. For me personally as a woman, studying Computer Science will hopefully help change the perception of women in the STEM fields. I chose the IDC specifically as it is an international, world class institution located in Israel, which exposes me to many brilliant and renowned lecturers.”

Computer Science student Liat Shear from Johannesburg hopes to help change the perception of women in the STEM fields.

She praises the opportunities it has provided in “helping me to meet peers and future colleagues from all over the world,” and plans after graduating, “to be part of one of the many Israel-based hi-tech companies that are changing the world and the way we live life.”

Sun Fun and Study. Like the warm embracing Israeli sun, the IDC Herzliya warmly embraces students from all over the world .

For Arora Attenborough from Melbourne, studying Computer Science or Entrepreneurship “never crossed my mind until coming to Israel. Growing up in Australia, I had always been passionate about technology and computers but, the importance of degrees in technology fields still hadn’t been fully recognised, and I originally thought I would most likely study Business. It wasn’t until I landed in Israel and started working in a Hi-Tech Company as an Executive Assistant, did I realise the importance of Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. From ‘Day 1’, I knew this was the environment that I wanted to work in.

Computer Science student Arora Attenborough from Melbourne, Australia

She says she is thankfulthat she was fortunate “to be able to see inside of both the roles of the Executives and the roles of the Software Engineers and the main thing that I deduced is that if I want to be successful in high tech I need to have the knowledge as a Computer Scientist and the skills of a good Entrepreneur.”

That is when she decided to study at the IDC Herzliya.

“Only when I started having discussions with my colleagues, mentors and friends about my degree choice did I fully realise that not one of my executive colleagues were female, and in 2 years of working in high tech, I had listened to hundreds of business calls, read over a plethora of different companies investor decks, and made coffee for many executives and not once did I meet or read about a female tech CEO. The realisation of diving into a male dominated sector and the challenge of becoming a leading woman in the tech industry is a big reason why I want to study Computer Science and Entrepreneurship so much.”

Imbued by the passion and the motivation she recognises within herself and her female Computer Science friends at the IDC, “I predict that very soon, smart and capable women will make a big impression on the technology industry, changing the way we see the high tech environment by bringing forth revolutionary companies and products.” 

Young and Adventurous. Preparing for tomorrow’s challenges, students from all over the world walking between classes at the IDC Herzliya.

Another Computer Science student from South Africa but born in Israel is 22-year-old Stav Hazan, who moved to Johannesburg, at the age of twelve. “Throughout high school, I consistently pushed myself to work towards a degree that would take full advantage of my skills and intelligence, but I never actually considered Computer Science as a path that could do that. This is because I had always pictured myself doing something meaningful or revolutionary in the medical or biological field, without realising the strong and important role Computer Science plays in these areas. Now, the vision I have for my career is to contribute to the Biotech industry by working with startups that bring together AI technology and software developers with doctors and other major players of the medical field.”

Stav says she would like to use this stage at the IDC to “encourage young women not to be intimidated by the Computer Science field, or to be influenced by external opinions and cultural beliefs. I initially did not view Computer Science as the most meaningful choice out of potential scientific degrees, as I wasn’t fully aware of the power these skills would give me. When I joined IDC, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the proportion of women to men in my degree, but my journey has been surrounded by the most driven and hard-working women, whether it be my good friends or the lecturers I am inspired by.”

Computer Science student Stav Hazan from Johannesburg, South Africa.

A second-year Computer Science student originally from Boston USA, Ilana Sivan, says  “Women are generally not encouraged to pursue STEM subjects at school, and if they find those subjects difficult, they are not encouraged to try harder but rather to change directions altogether.”  Despite “more of the risk associated with studying Computer Science” Ilana says because of “the innovative and welcoming environment IDC,” the faculty encourages “us to try new ideas and forge new partnerships,  and make us feel part of the community regardless of our gender.”  

Ilana Sivan, USA, 2nd year Computer Science student (photo credit: JENNY SCHWEBER)

The words of these women students are inspirational and aspirational and well befitting the man whose name graces and characterizes the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science. In 1965, while studying at MIT, Efi Arazi designed a camera for NASA, which was used by the Apollo 11 space mission to transmit the first images from the moon. At the age of 25, Arazi invented a revolutionary auto-focus mechanism, thus cementing his position as one of the leading figures in the global electro-optic industry and upon returning to Israel in 1968, he founded the Scitex Corporation, which developed the first digital prepress computer and CCD scanner in the world.

Lasting Legacy. High-Tech pioneer and visionary, Efi Arazi (1937–2013).

Little wonder that Jonathan Davis, Head of the RRIS and Vice President of the IDC Herzliya, likes to refer to the Raphael Recanati International School as  an “island of opportunities”.

Today and Tomorrow. Prof Uriel Reichman, IDC founder and president (left), and Jonathan Davis, Head of the RRIS and Vice President of the IDC Herzliya, with two new graduates  and two future graduates.

For more information about IDC HERZLIYA




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Seeing is Believing

The English expression “long time, no see” took on a quite literal meaning with Israeli medical science restoring sight to the blind

By David E. Kaplan

It was like a miracle out of the Bible when an Israeli resident from Haifa “saw the light”!  However, it was all about science, not divine intervention.

And yet there was something majestically “biblical” about the scene played out at the Rabin Medical Center when a 78 year-old BLIND man from Haifa on the 3rd of January was able to see his youngest grandchild – only three months old!

An Arab from Haifa, Jamal Furani had gradually lost most of his vision over the past decade due to corneal disease.

If someone resembling a friend or neighbour stood in front of him, “I would not be able to tell the difference,” he said. His cause had seemed lost following four donor transplants to try to restore his vision. All had failed!

That was until the 3rd of January 2021 when he became the first patient to receive the KPro artificial cornea from CorNeat Vision in Ra’anana.

A Sight to Behold. Jamal Furani reading a vision chart a day after receiving the KPro artificial cornea from CorNeat, surrounded by his surgeon, Prof. Irit Bahar (left) and CorNeat cofounder Dr. Gilad Litvin and Furani’s daughter Khulud. (Screenshot from Channel 13)

Prof. Irit Bahar, Chief of Ophthalmology at Beilinson Hospital of Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva who performed the implant surgery, explained that “each successive surgery has less chance of success,” however, “the synthetic cornea changed all that. The surgical procedure was straight forward and the result exceeded all of our expectations.”

The day after the operation, Prof. Bahar said that even she was “amazed”, “surprised” and “thrilled” at how well Furaniwas “able to read a vision chart and to recognize family members.” And of course Furani’s family had changed over the years but the absolute thrill was seeing for the first time the new members who he had spoken with and touched but now could see!

It has been emotionally tough for medical practitioners all over the world over the last year with COVID-19, so this was a thrill. “The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment. Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors,” said Prof. Bahar.

To which an exuberant Furani replied, “As much as you are happy, I am even happier. It’s my treasure to be able to see.”

So what is this artificial cornea that can now restore sight to the blind?

Seeing Eye to Eye. CorNeat’s artificial cornea fits into the wall of the eye without the need for any donor tissue.

CorNeat co-founder and the inventor of the KProDr. Gilad Litvin, told Channel 13 news that “The innovation here stems from the ability to take something totally synthetic that has no cells or tissue and implant it in the wall of the eye so that it essentially becomes part of the body.”  Litvin who sat in on the operation, revealed to the Times of Israel the sensation of “Unveiling this first implanted eye” and “being in that room was surreal. Witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving. There were a lot of tears in the room.”

You bet!

The Insightful A-Team. The CorNeat Vision team with Almog Aley-Raz, and Dr. Gilad Litvin seated centre. (Courtesy of CorNeat Vision)

It was only last July, the first in-human trials of the CorNeat synthetic cornea were approved at Beilinson. This is only the start of a procedure which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions.

A Welcome Sight. Israeli startup has successfully carried out the world’s first artificial cornea transplant, restoring the sight of a 78-year-old man who had been blind for 10 years.

First Step

CorNeat Vision’s Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and VP R&D, Almog Aley-Raz, noted that theCorNeat KPro’s first-in-human implantation is just the first step in a multi-national clinical trial, geared toward attaining CE Mark, FDA Clearance and China NMPA approval. “A total of 10 patients are approved for the trial at Rabin Medical Center in Israel with two additional sites planned to open this January in Canada and six others at different stages in the approval process in France, the US, and the Netherlands. Our first trial includes blind patients who are not suitable candidates for- or have failed one or more corneal transplantations. Given the exceptional visual performance of our device, the expected healing time and retention, and the fact that it cannot carry disease, we plan to initiate a second study later this year with broader indications to approve our artificial cornea as a first line treatment, displacing the use of donor tissue used in full thickness corneal transplantations.”

Now, when Haifa grandpa Jamal Furani says to someone “I’ll be seeing you” he sure means it!







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Under Lockdown, Israeli University Unlocks Ingenuity

Educating through a Global Pandemic, IDC Herzliya turns Challenge into Opportunity

By David E. Kaplan

They say when the “going gets tough, the tough get going,” but in the Start-Up Nation of Israel that is never quite enough, you also need to be SMART.

Tough, smart and add in entrepreneurial,” asserts  Jonathan Davis, Vice President for External Relations at IDC Herzliya, and head of the university’s Raphael Recanati International School. “This is how the IDC has come through 2020 with the Corona pandemic. We have put IDC philosophy into practice by welcoming the challenges of Corona as opportunities. Overcoming hurdles and obstacles is what we teach here. It’s in our DNA.”

Flying Colours. Flags representing the international students’ countries of origin wave along the ‘Raphael Recanati Avenue of Flags’ (Photo: Herschel Gutman).

Nurtured in a country that has survived and thrived in adversity, Israel’s first private university, the IDC Herzliya was founded in 1994 by its President, Prof. Uriel Reichman to train the future leadership of the State of Israel via “a unique model of excellence in research and teaching” alongside an emphasis “on social responsibility and community involvement”.  

“Wonder Woman”. Famed Israeli actress Gal Gadot and Miss Israel 2004 studied law at the IDC university , while building her modelling and acting careers.

Its students are trained to “Dream Beyond” and its former students can be found at the pinnacles of their professions fulfilling their “dreams” in fields all over the world. Look no further than Hollywood’s “Wonder Woman”  Gal Gadot, who after serving two years in the Israeli Defense Forces as a combat trainer, studied law at the IDC Herzliya before she began her modelling and acting career. Even with 2020 being the year of the Corona, Gadot is ranked in the top three highest paid actresses in the world – quite a leap from the once young girl from Rosh Ha’ayin!  

Impact on the World. “It is our responsibility to shine hope and light for a better future for our children,” says IDC former student famed film star, Gal Gadot.

While the supernatural powers of a “Wonder Woman” could have come in hand in 2020,  the IDC dug into its own innovative talents and optimized its abundant expertise to come up with solutions.

Meeting of Young Minds. A regular day at the IDC before Corona. Students at the international school who study in English, hail from over 90 countries from all over the world.

When the Corona pandemic struck in March 2020, “We rapidly responded to the new educational realities,” explains Davis who has been responsible for the health and welfare of eight hundred international students from over 90 countries. Having to adjust to a world knocked off its proverbial axis, it has been non-stop for Davis and his energized “A-team” arranging transportation for these mostly foreign students, ensuring that health regulations were strictly adhered to, quarantining the foreign students upon arrival in Israel, and remaining in touch with anxious parents.

Time Out.  The outdoors coffee shop is the social hub on campus. (Photo D.E. Kaplan)

We held frequent Zoom conferences with as many as six hundred parents at a time, from the Far East, Europe, North America, and Latin America,” says Davis. “Felt like the United Nations but with one big satisfying difference – we resolved issues!”

Corona Connectivity. A IDC Zoom meeting of students from all over the world with international school head, Jonathan Davis (centre top)

Countering Corona

Confronting the pandemic as if it were a war, the IDC set up on its campus an “Operations Room”, which maintained constant contact with representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior and Ben Gurion International Airportto ensure that things went smoothly,” says Davis. Running 24 hours a day, “We had to field requests from North and South America, South Africa, Australia, across Europe and even China; after all, we have students here from over 90 countries. As we were bringing these students into Israel, the regulations and rules of Corona were changing from one minute to the next. It reminded me of Mohamed Ali – it was not good enough to carry a touch punch; one had to be nimble on the feet – to adjust to constantly changing conditions.”

One of the many overseas students the IDC assisted in returning to Israel during Corona was Jessica Rubens from Belgium. Stuck at home because of the pandemic, this Communication’s student was finding it frustrating studying from home. “I had been trying since March to return to Israel; it was not easy but finally, the IDC knowing the right levers to pull, helped me get back safely. This is where I need to be. It’s been quite amazing.”

Studying Communications is Jessica Rubens from Belgium.

Responsible for quarantining over 800 students,  many of whom went either to the IDC’s new dormitories or apartments off-campus and “We had to check those apartments to make sure that everything was according to the rules and regulations.”

Campus Beat. The IDC’s new dormitories on campus before Corona (Photo: Hershel Gutman)

Tapping into Talent

Ensuring the health and wellbeing of the students, the focus shifted to education, and what proved “smart”  was to tap into the talents of its students. To ensure the IDC was able to continue effective teaching, meant training hundreds of lecturers and professors in the art of online teaching in the most innovative and creative way.  “We took two hundred students from the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science, who became the mentors and tutors of these professors and lecturers, to assist them with technical aspects,” reveals Davis.

If one is tempted to raise an eyebrow at the sudden upside-down practice of students counseling lecturers, it is well known that IDC computer science students receive an average of three job offers from the biggest high-tech companies during their last year of studies. “They are trained to perform, and perform they did during Corona,” says Davis. “These guys were the cavalry.”

As 2021 dawned, and Israel became the first country in the world to vaccinate 10% of population, it is understandable that its universities are the breeding ground of its superlative successes. It needs to be!

Through entrepreneurial and innovative ways, we found ways and means to make lectures more interesting,” says Davis who directed the writer to interview a number of students.

Top Diplomat. Priding itself on having lecturers and professors active in their disciplines, seen here on campus is Israel’s top diplomat, the former Ambassador to the UK and the UN, Ron Prosor and today head of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya with Jess Dorfan (L) from San Diego and Kelly Odes (R), Argov Fellow alumni, from JHB two students in 2017. (photo D.E. Kaplan)

I began with a group from South Africa, a country facing increasing isolation as more countries ban travel there over the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.

For Noah Marks from Johannesburg, being under lockdown did not mean “my mind was ‘quarantined’.” Studying Business and Entrepreneurship, Covid-19 allowed Noah to use his time “profitably” as he began to work “on a number of venture ideas I had been toying with for some time.” He says it made him think “how crises are not to be seen as all negative but rather that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout this Covid-19 pandemic, I have been exposed to new ways of creative problem solving and these lessons have indeed helped me to further become the entrepreneur that I wish to be.”

The  IDC could not be better geographically situated to suit Noah and his aspiring hi-tech peers. Located between Ra’anana and Herzliya, in the midst of Israel’s ‘Silicon Wadi’, with the most hi-tech companies per capita of any region in the country, “the IDC enjoys a very strong connection with these companies,” says Davis. “They provide cooperative hands-on education as well as offering internships.”

From South Africa (Left to Right ) Jordi Rubenstein studying Psychology, Tali Kadish Psychology student, Noah Marks Business and Entrepreneurship.

While for second year Psychology student returning to Israel and leaving her family behind in Johannesburg was “a daunting and emotional experience,”  Tali Kadish says she knows “I made the right decision.” At least surrounded by classmates in the dorms “allowed the online lessons to feel somewhat ‘normal’.”

In agreement is her compatriot and also Psychology student, Jordi Rubenstein who says the IDC “has gone to special efforts to make our online lectures interesting and productive. This period has no doubt been difficult, but the extra resources laid on has ensured that my education is on track and enriching.”

From ‘Down Under’, Computer Science student, Arora Attenborough from Australia’s Gold Coast, is up and energized being back in Israel. Using underwater parlance to describe learning ‘under lockdown’, Arora is looking forward “to start deep diving into my Computer Science and Entrepreneurship courses knowing that the skills we are acquiring and the challenges we are overcoming today will make us better and more prepared for the changed world after Corona.”

Warmly welcomed back to the IDC is Arora Attenborough from the Gold Coast, Australia studying Computer Science.

There is an understandable sense among the students that the post-Corona world will be different and that the education they are receiving at the IDC is preparing them for that proverbial, ‘Brave New World’.

This phenomena came from one man’s dream – Prof. Uriel Reichman and after whom the IDC will soon be renamed.  It was this esteemed Law Professor who during the early 1990s – without any state financial support – deflected the skeptics and transformed a crumbling British Mandate military base into an educational oasis in the center of the country. That short saga from decay to enterprise, encapsulates the spirit of the IDC. As students walk through the picturesque, verdant grounds of their campus, they can look upon the artifacts and masonry of bygone Empires from Rome to the British and marvel at modern day Israel’s accomplishments.

Men with A Mission. Founder and President of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Prof. Uriel Reichman (left) and Jonathan Davis, Vice President for External Relations at IDC Herzliya and head of the university’s Raphael Recanati International School.

With the shackles of past rulers an artwork on their pathways to lecture halls, “We train our students,”says Reichmann, “to free themselves from the shackles of convention and take responsibility for their future. We encourage them to pursue their dreams and not to succumb to the status quo.”

Viewing his IDC academic experience through a Corona prism, Government and Sustainability student Lee Ortenberg from Newton, Massachusetts is quite philosophical:

 “I came to IDC to have an international community surrounding me during my studies. I think one of the most amazing things about IDC is the diversity you find among your peers and professors; everyone has completely different life experiences to offer! Oddly enough, the coronavirus aligns almost perfectly with what we study in Government and Sustainability. From the nature of the virus, to how globalized economies handle shutdowns, to how cities and governments may come out of this pandemic greener and more resilient, it all has to do with our degree, making it a truly interesting time to be studying. Our professors share so much passion with our students, which is so inspiring to be around, and have been there for us every step of the way during the pandemic.” 

Lee Ortenberg from  Newton, Massachusetts USA is studying Government & Sustainability

While praising the administration and faculty in providing “an excellent job in adapting to online teaching,” Business Administration and Economics student Eitan Dooreck-Aloni from Miami, Florida articulates what all the students are hoping for”

Eitan Dooreck-Aloni, from Miami, Florida in the USA is studying Business Administrations-Economics

 “I can’t wait for life to get back to normal, so that we can all enjoy IDC’s vibrant life on campus.”

Now that’s a sentiment that everyone, everywhere can truly relate to!

Pathway to the Past.  Walking to classes, students pass the artifacts and masonry of bygone Empires from Rome to Great Britain.





*For more information about the IDC, please contact Stephanie Miller at smiller@idc.ac.il Or 972-9-9602841. 




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)