YOM HAATZMAUT 5779
There’s been a good deal of tragic news in the Jewish world lately. Exactly 2 weeks ago on Shabbos was the shooting at the Chabad of Poway California. We were all in shock that the shooting 6 months ago in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg could repeat itself so soon. Nothing like this had ever happened before in America. The impact on synagogues throughout America will be felt for some time.
It was reported this week that on April 17th, children at a Muslim center in Philadelphia wearing Palestinian scarves sang: “We will chop off their [Jewish] heads, and we will liberate the sorrowful and exalted Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will lead the army of Allah fulfilling His promise, and we will subject them to eternal torture.” No this was not in Gaza or Cairo or Riyadh. This was in Philadelphia! How disturbing is that?
With a heavy heart I spoke about the Poway shooting last Shabbos. After Shabbos I turned on the news to find more tragic news in the Jewish world. In Israel there were bloodshed and turbulence as almost 700 rockets were launched by Hamas in Gaza into Israel—killing 4 and injuring so many others. The week that followed in the Jewish calendar was dedicated to the memory of those who fought on behalf of Israel—with Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) on Wednesday—and a celebration of the modern State of Israel’s birthday—with Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on Thursday. This week’s events caused us to reflect upon the tremendous sacrifice Jews living in Israel make every day.
But I think we can better honor Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) by speaking about how wonderful the State of Israel truly is and how its innovations are the wonders of the world—improving the lives of all. At only 71, Israel is fulfilling Gd’s promise to Abraham: V’nivr’chu v’cha kol mishp’chot haadama (And through you will all the nations of the world be blessed). Its innovations in technology, medicine and agriculture are outstanding and ever increasing. For example, every computer, tablet and smart phone operates on Israeli technology. California is well on its way to solving its water crisis using Israeli desalinization technology in 2 plants near San Diego that Israel has built. Israel offered its expertise to South Africa to help with its water crisis but was sadly refused.
In only 71 years, Israel has proven it’s possible to do the impossible at home and abroad, whether greening deserts, rescuing people in distress in distant lands or sending the smallest-ever spacecraft to the moon. The list of Israeli accomplishments is staggering, especially considering the huge amount of resources that must be spent on defense.
consider this. Israel ranks 5th in the world for healthy longevity and 11th in the world for overall happiness. 88.6% of Israelis say they are pleased with their lives—remarkable considering the constant threats of violence and terrorism.
Israel is now a high-tech superpower. It has the highest number of startups per capita in the world—1400. In Research and Development Israel ranks #1. More than 350 multinational corporations have R&D centers in Israel, including IBM, Intel, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Merck, HP Indigo, J&J, GE, Siemens, Qualcomm, Applied Materials and Samsung.
Let me tell you about Alpha Tau. Alpha Tau is an Israeli cancer research firm working toward commercializing its breakthrough alpha radiation therapy technology that eliminates cancerous tumors in 70% of patients. Let me repeat, in 70% of patients. When the healthy tissue around the tumor is not destroyed along with the cancer as this allows, the immune system is stimulated to recognize and attack the same type of tumors elsewhere in the body. These kinds of metastases are the cause of death for 85% of cancer patients.
Meuhedet HMO uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to innovate patient needs. Think of how a diagnosis is made today. If you wake up on Monday with chest pain, you may go to your family doctor. The physician sends you to the hospital for an ultrasound. At the hospital, they look at the image and say, you should make an appointment with a cardiologist. The process can take weeks.
Technological innovation holds out the promise of, shortcutting this process by sharing the ultrasound with your family doctor, using artificial intelligence to make a model of your heart, then with a press of a button, you’re connected to a cardiologist—who might be in Israel or in the US—who does the diagnosis then and there. The medication is ordered to be picked up an hour later.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has become a mecca for Israeli tech firms. From software for autonomous vehicles to drones delivering pizza to walking and talking robots. Here’s a sample:
Engie plugs into a car’s dashboard and helps drivers of “regular” vehicles (you know, the ones we’re driving today) diagnose problems and find the closest mechanic. Engie can tell you if your car will pass its next air-pollution test or if the engine is running hot. It can even remember where you parked your car. Now that’s for me!
Flytrex wants to be the FedEx of the drone-delivery world. Its software allows operators to set pick-up and delivery points and see information about weather, topography and other drones in the air. The service is now operational at the King’s Walk Golf Course in North Dakota where it delivers food and beverages to golfers on-demand, and in Iceland where AHA which uses Flytrex to drop goods in customers’ Reykjavik backyards.
Consumer drones today mainly carry packages. But will a fully flying car be in our future? Startup NFT hopes to bring a bit of the Jetsons to our cities. The company will be displaying a prototype vehicle with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities—no landing pad or heliport required. NFT’s electric-powered flying car has a range of 60 miles driving and 310 miles flying at a projected price of only $50,000.
TechSee uses cameras and augmented reality to troubleshoot users’ tech problems remotely. Just bought a new router but don’t know how to set it up? Fire up TechSee’s “Eve” app and point your phone at the router. Eve will identify the model and walk you through installation by demonstrating the steps you need to take on an augmented visual overlay.
Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ chats with seniors to help them stay active and engaged. The product won a “Best of Innovation award” in the Smart Home category at Las Vegas.
Here’s one of the most important. For me it ranks up with Alpha Tau that eliminates tumors in 70% of patients for it can significantly help reduce air polution.
StoreDot aims to jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution by recharging batteries in just 5 minutes providing the same 300 miles of range as gas cars. This eliminates the major problem of electric cars—batteries that provide limited mileage and take hours to charge. StoreDot’s batteries are like other electric batteries, using lithium. But StoreDot replaces the graphite used by all other electric battery manufacturers—which can make it overheat and blow up if charged too fast—with a mix of metalloids including silicon and organic compounds synthesized in its labs. Manufacturing likely to begin by 2022.
My friends, Gd’s blessing to Abraham and we his descendants, the Jews—V’nivr’chu v’cha kol mishp’chot haadama (And through you will all the nations of the world be blessed)—is being fulfilled in our lifetime. Perhaps it is because for the 1st time in 2,000 years, Jews are a free people in their own land, free to improve their lives and the lives of everyone in the world—even its sworn enemies. Israel has taken a barren land and made it bloom again. It has taken an ancient Hebrew language and made it speak again. It has taken a nation decimated by a Holocaust and made it live again.
But we have not yet seen the full fruits of our labor—the full blessing can only come when the world will leave us alone to create. Surrounded by countries that do everything possible to destroy it, the people of Israel live, Am Yisrael chai, may they continue to live and ever and be a blessing to the world. Amen!