Secrets, Robotics, Waiting and Timing in Jerusalem

Secrets, Robotics, Waiting and Timing in Jerusalem


Oh how many times have I said, “Timing is everything!”

The Prime Minister is in Tel Aviv giving his innovation speech to a Cybersecurity conference. I think I know most of it by heart, especially his example of agritech, where Israeli drones can water one thirsty plant out in the field.

In Jerusalem, Israel, conferences on health, society, and more are filling numerous hotels.

Israel Homeland Security conference in Jerusalem Israel

Last week Security Minister Gilad Erdan hosted international leaders in a Homeland Security Forum at the Orient Hotel.

What a difference a week makes! I had to research the US delegation head last week.

Gilad Erdan and US Kriysten Nielson of Home land Security

Minister Gilad Erdan listened as head of US Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen spoke.

I would bet she enjoyed the Israeli conference much more than being chased by protesters from a Mexican restaurant last night in DC .

Names of Israel security on chairs at conference in Jerusalem

Besides hundreds of police officers and international officials, the heads of Israel security also attended.

ISHF slide of 4 levels of tech development

Sorry some slides are top secret, but I thought this one was interesting and shareable.

Jerusalem Israel conference on security 3d copying machines on display

Room #2 was off limits. But these three 3-d copying machines were going strong for all to see.

Israel President Reuven Rivlin attended, spoke for a few minutes, and was on his way in no time.

3d copied icons for key chains at IHSF

Shame he missed getting one of these key chain holders made by the copying machines.

They tell me 3-d chocolates are next. Now that is something worth waiting for.

On the topic of timing and waiting, there are two very short videos clips I have been waiting to share.

Student robotics champions were at Beit Hanasi, the Israel President’s residence, in the room to greet official dignitaries, to demonstrate their winning entry.

Oh dear, that is me trying to be quiet and not succeeding.

A demonstration of how a few tense seconds, less than a minute, can feel so long.

But there you have it, after a bit of delay, the robot threw the ball as intended.

Tense? Time for international yoga week.

Hebrew sign for Yoga Week in Jerusalem Israel

For those who cannot read Hebrew, the orange sign in the middle announces that it is Yoga week from June 17-22.

The Big Dream poster on the left is a special event in honor of International Yoga Day, with music and decorated yoga mats in Hinnom Park near the Old City walls.

Another one of those “you never know what you will find next” on Jerusalem streets.

Innovation and tech. The big deal tonight is at WeWork Creator awards in the Arena. From the 1300 videos entered into a competition, 10 finalists will be on stage to present to thousands of participants coming by free shuttles from around the country for food, entertainment and more. Perhaps next week I will share my video.

Out on the streets, one simple pleasure.

White crosswalk lines on Jerusalem Israel street

Appreciating the simple things, new white lines have been painted to make pedestrian crossing a lot safer at this busy corner.

White crossing lines painted so all can see the crossing: How many times have cars zoomed past recently as I waited to cross.


Jerusalem Israel demolition of old building for new towers

Smoke and dust filled the air at this planned building demolition. Old Jerusalem buildings are coming down to make way for new towers to be built near entrance of the city.

Still waiting for the fast train to Tel Aviv.

However, construction goes on…and on.

As always, something new is happening on the Jerusalem streets.

From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

Another incredible week in Jerusalem, Israel, as tens of thousands filled hotels and their buses made their way through the Jerusalem streets.

Unity Prize Awards at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The Unity Prizes were awarded at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. With the Gesher Foundation and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar families initiated these awards four years ago.

The families of the three murdered teens Eyal, Yifrach, and Naftali z”l wanted to find a meaningful way to express their appreciation for the unity and support they felt during those difficult days.

Unity Prize founders three families Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar at Beit Hanasi for Unity Awards Ceremony

The program was held in the main hall and included music and entertainment, with the families and prize winners filling the room.

Boca Florida winner of Unity Prize in Jerusalem Israel at Israeli President House

Boca Florida won a prize for Jewish Engagement, unity in Jewish education. Representatives from Florida came to Jerusalem to receive their award.

Unity Prize winners.

Other winners were Runners without Borders, TEC Center, Koolulam, and a special Global life achievement went to Birthright.

Three video clips were included in last week’s Shabbat Shalom greeting. They can be seen HERE.  

Soon after I left Beit Hanasi, there was another event in the gardens of OneFamily.

One Family hosts Rudy Giuliani in Jerusalem Israel

Photo ops with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani were popular that night.

OneFamily guest Rudy Giuliani poses for photo on way out of One Family dinner event

Giuliani was mayor at the time of September 11 terror attack. He spoke of dealing with victims of terror in the aftermath and emphasized the good and important work of OneFamily helping victims of terror in Israel.

Not all of his remarks would be considered politically correct, but here is one short clip on Arafat and the PLO.

Jerusalem Israel, President's house garden with busts of former presidents and Theodore Herzl

Beit Hanasi, as usual, was a busy place all week. The presidential gardens were ready for numerous international guests.

AJC Board of Governors line up to enter Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The leadership of American Jewish Committee (AJC) lined up so politely to enter. Should I confess that I smiled and went in the other door to bypass the line?

Bedouin Ahlam Alsana speaking at ICC for AJC in Jerusalem Israel

At AJC closing plenary, one of the many faces of Israel, Ahlam Alsana, stressed the importance of education in her remarks.

Shavuah HaSefer at First Station Jerusalem Israel

For locals, it was the annual Shavuah Hasefer, Hebrew Book Week, again held in First Station. As every year, thousands of volumes were for sale, attracting young and old.

Jerusalem Israel actors at First Station

A volunteer student theater group performed as families gathered before the entry gate opened.

Jerusalem Israel First Station

After their performance, confetti covered the ground and the actor/painter was back at his easel at work.

Another “you never know what you will find” scene for sure.

School end of year performance in Jerusalem Israel

You never know what you will find at those end of school year performances filling schedules in June. Mega events, with professional staging and lights, lasting well into the night – for elementary school. Interesting, as college graduations in Israel are so low key compared to US.

Jerusalem Israel Orient Isrotel

The new Orient Hotel was the scene of a gala dinner celebrating the 80th year of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Steinsaltz Center contribution to education.

Books of Adin Steinsaltz

What other dinner gala featured a wall of impressive books, under the authorship of one person?

Rav Adin Steinsaltz with son and grandson enter gala tribute for his 80th birthday in Jerusalem Israel

Rabbi Steinsaltz was escorted into the full banquet hall by his son and grandson.

Singer Avraham Fried in Jerusalem, Israel for Steinsaltz Gala in honor of Rav Adin 80th birthday

Popular singer Avraham Fried gave a powerful performance.

Eightieth birthday Rav Adin Steinsaltz in Jerusalem Israel

The key note speaker was Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who spoke about power and knowledge.

To end with some inspiration, take two minutes and listen to a brief clip from his insightful remarks.

So much is happening in Jerusalem.

Israel Festival has ended. Jerusalem Design Week has begun.

Then on June 27, begins another week of the annual Light Festival in the Old City.

But for this week if there was one overshadowing theme, it was that education is the key.

Education should be everyone’s birthright, not only the privileged.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Shomron Tour: 7 Stops Over Green Line

Shomron Tour: 7 Stops Over Green Line

Once in while it is good to leave Jerusalem, Israel, and see what is happening in other parts of the country.

An opportunity for a trip to the Shomron was hard to pass up. Three times previously, I joined various groups going over the green line to Judea and Samaria, to the Shomron. I was interested to see how things have changed. Often those who travel a regular route do not notice change as much as one who only goes by occasionally.

Arab houses being built along road outside of Jerusalem Israel

Leaving Jerusalem, one sees how much construction is happening, how built up some areas are today. Above are a few of new Arab houses along the road.

King of Jordan Palace on top of hill near Jerusalem Israel

Neighborhoods stretch out with new dwellings. In the distance, however, is one undeveloped area.

View outside of Jerusalem, Israel unfinished palace King of Jordan

There it is up on the hill, still the same as it was decades ago. The shell of the King of Jordan’s planned summer palace. No one seems to want to touch those dunams of land.

Shomron trip new construction of Leshem

But new Jewish neighborhoods are also under construction, Leshem is a planned and growing community.

Outside of Jerusalem, Israel cattle grazing along side of road

One thing has not changed, along the road one still see piles of junked cars in Arab neighborhoods.

By the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria was divided into three areas: Area A, B and C.

To make something extremely complicated  simplified:

Area A is under PA control. B is under PA governance with Israeli security. C is under Israeli control.

Israel Lookout from high elevation can see in all directions

First stop was Pedu’el. From המרפסת של המדינה, HaMirpeset Shel HaMedina, loosely translated as Israel’s Lookout, on a clear day one can see, well almost forever, to the sea. It is one of those spots where one realizes just how small Israel really is.

Fabrics to be recycled in Ofertex factory in Shomron Barkan Industrial park

Ever wonder where those old stained clothes and seconds of wipes end up?

Second stop was at Ofertex manufacturing plant in Barkan Industrial Park.

Spinning threads into recycled fabrics in Barkan Industrial Park factory

I wrote about a visit to Barkan Industrial Park  two years ago. While SodaStream got the media attention, dozens of companies are based in the region. This one recycles fabrics to make cleaning cloths, repackaged under private labels for Walmart, Dollar Stores and European clients too. Oftertex was started by Polish survivors who came to Israel in 1950. Fourth generation owners of this private company employ 120 people. Of the 100 Arab workers, some are third generation employees. Israeli companies pay over three times average PA salaries, plus have better working conditions and benefits.

Industrial park in Shomron, Israel over green line

Thousands of Arab workers are hurt if BDS boycott’s are effective, if production slows or a business is forced to close or relocate.

Security barriers to protect those waiting for bus in Shomron

Back on the road, we passed a memorial to one of too many Israelis who were murdered by terrorists at this bus stop.

Itamar view of part of town

Third Stop was in Itamar, which I had passed on previous trips, but never entered. I had not realized how large and spread out it was.

Shomron, Itamar houses from afar.

A few of Itamar homes in the distance, as seen from Zimerman Farm where we heard the story of Zimerman Family’s pioneering in organic farming.

Itamar view from Zimerman Farms.

Looking out, one sees how getting into Itamar is not so easy, and requires planning. I could not help thinking of the Fogel family as I stood and stared out.

Two Israeli soldiers on watch in cement security in Shomron road

We passed Israeli soldiers standing guard on the road in a cement shelter for protection.

Red signs at road to Arab villages in Shomron forbidding Israelis to enter

And those red warning signs, telling Israelis not to enter PA territory, were posted at the Arab villages of Area A.

Har Bracha, Blessed Mountain, view below

The view on the way to Stop Four on Har Bracha, Blessed Mountain, is worth sharing, even if it was hazy that day.

Har Bracha wine bottles on display for tasting.

Wine tasting with lunch at Har Bracha, demonstrated the quality wines coming from vineyards planted in the once barren land, now producing 50,000 bottles a year.

View of Nablus from lookout above Shechem

My first visit to Shehem, Nablus, inspired an Israellycool post.  Finding Yosef’s Tomb from the safety of the lookout on Mount Gerizim was harder this time.

View of Nablus from lookout above, closest Israeli access to Josef's Tomb

Stop Five showed “the refugee camp” which is still the same cramped, pathetic photo op, as the areas around have grown and sprawled outward in all directions.

Factory owned by Samaritan family having problems selling to EU

A Tahini Factory near the overlook was Stop Six. The owner Yosef HaCohen shared his story of being a Samaritan businessman. Not Jewish. not Muslim. His children are in the school system under PA, and Har Bracha Tahini is trying to do business in Europe, not so easy for a company located in the “West Bank.”

Oven on street preparing food for iftr Ramadan meal

A trip through the Shomron on Ramadan, when Muslims fast all day, and eat after dark, means food places are shut in the morning, but fires get going in late afternoon.

Internet project shows Arab names of towns which were Jewish, used same names

On our last stop before returning to Jerusalem, Michal Eshed shared her Eretz IL research. She has found sources for hundreds of locations with Arab names that were built on top of Jewish sites, where the Hebrew source names were used and translated to Arabic.

Memorial wall in Shomron for fallen

Near the Shomron Community Council building where Eshel shared her power point presentation, is this memorial plaza.

Police checking cars near Ramallah after IDF soldier was mortally wounded

Our bus was stopped by police not far from Ramallah on our return to Jerusalem. Traffic was backed up the other way. We had heard a soldier had been critically wounded.  The police were checking cars, looking for someone. Sadly the young soldier died from his head wound.

The Shomron’s “checkerboard of governance” is complicated. Seven stops on a day trip are like a drop in the bucket. One blog post only provides a small piece of the picture..

Land in Shomron seen from Itamar

I thought to close with a bit of the view overlooking Itamar in the Shomron.

More photos from day can be seen HERE

Interested ro see for yourself? Let me know and I will introduce you to those who want to share the beauty of Eretz Yisrael.