Jerusalem Days of Topsy Turvy and Upside Down

I was stuck, trying hard to find new words for another roller-coaster, emotional week in Jerusalem, Israel.

How about upside down, or how topsy turvy?

The commotion was too much of a downer at the start of the week, so I went to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for a bit of fresh air and sunshine.

Stopping to watch a white swan swim across the pond,

appreciating the small wonders in nature,

and seeing the brilliant colors makes it’s also hard to remember it’s winter.

But to be real, not all is so pretty and pleasant on the Jerusalem streets.

Barriers abound and block sidewalks.

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As the weeks go on, the barriers are getting bigger.

And they seem to be multiplying, and blocking the pathways.

Barriers are set early on Friday, ready for the after-Shabbat protesters at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Barriers have been placed around the fountain at French/Paris Square.

Then Wednesday, the street where the Netanyahus live, was closed.

The barriers in front of their home remind me of those in the park.

However, there was much more happening in Jerusalem this week.

My friend from the US noted there was no armed guard at the entrance to our synagogue in Jerusalem on Shabbat.

IDF soldier on guard at Tzomet HaGush

But security is on higher alert, as seen here in Gush Etzion last week.

New tunnels to Gush

However, road works, such as the second tunnel from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, are finally reaching the final stages, after years of construction.

For the first time, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada was visiting the Knesset and flags were flying for the official welcome.

Sunday, Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger was in Jerusalem.

Buildings are going up and up all over Jerusalem. These towers tower above and off King George Street.

The center of Jerusalem off of Jaffa Road along the light rail tracks has come back to life again after pandemic closures.

New stores are opening in anticipation of returning tourists.

Old streets are being regentrified with new boutique hotels and shops.

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HaBoydem has opened a new larger space to sell its recycled clothing.

Shaon Horef – שאון חורף or Winter Noise was back Monday nights in February.

Winter Noise was on the street near where we lived and also in the 2014 Winter Noise. I used to go to all four Monday nights, but not this year.

This time I only got to the last one on the last Monday of February.

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These guys were my favorite as they walked into Harvey’s and sat down.

Oh, Jerusalem streets, where much of the year, one can often ask whether it’s Purim or not Purim.

The Shaon Horef of 2023 was well done, check out a few video highlights.

And it was held on Shushan Street, a perfect location before Purim.

The Purim holiday signs are up along the Jerusalem streets.

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Mishloach Manot baking and preparations have begun.

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Signs of Purim in the neighborhoods were up last week.

The streets were filled with schoolchildren dressed in costumes, however, some of the cutest did not want to be photographed.

So you will have to come back next week for Purim favorites.

There are too many Jerusalem Purim events to list, at the Israel Museum, the Tower of David, the Train Theater, Safra Square, and more,

but you can find Purim events in English on the Jerusalem website.

Purim week is always a time of upside-down, topsy-turvy.

Hoping this Purim will be celebrated in a good way, so check back next week to see.

פורים שמח

Purim sameach!

9 Israeli Startups for a Better Planet and Beyond

When I received the email inviting me to join a media tour and visit a long list of startups starting at 7:30 am, and returning late at night, I thought it wasn’t a good idea to go.

Plus, it was scheduled for the day after the OurCrowd Global Investors Summit. mentioned in last week’s post. The final summit stats were impressive with 9,000 registrations, 1,700 investors, 950 entrepreneurs, 631 venture capital, and 305 press. It was huge, and also a long day.

However, I am so happy I took advantage of the Jerusalem Press Club Tour.

Our first stop was in Beit Shemesh to visit the Bioplasmer Demonstration Farm and greenhouse.

Bioplasmar has developed a method for producing biodegradable planting pots and planting trays using compost instead of plastic, so the plants can be planted directly into the ground with no plastic waste.  

Here we were shown that the root system benefits from not being damaged by having to be replanted in the ground.

Helios’ goals are to launch into space. With no oxygen on the moon, they are exploring more efficient ways to get to and live on the moon and beyond.

Touring Helios we saw labs developing a new way of producing iron and steel that uses less energy. It does not burn coal, as an inherent part of the process, therefore, vastly reducing CO2 emissions. 

The next stop, was Moshav Mazor, to visit GroundworkBio.

This company innovatively produces highly effective mycorrhizal inoculants. The field of research is important since the restoration of the soil’s mycorrhizal balance is crucial to plants’ ability to absorb the precious nutrients that farmers work so hard to provide for plant growth.

Dan Grotsky welcomed us and gave a presentation, but we could not see the farm’s top-secret processes.

However, we received samples and were served a very nice lunch.

Full disclosure: my daughter worked at GroundworkBio for five years. I met Dan at a meetup in Jerusalem years ago and knew of their growth in overseas markets. But having never gotten to the Moshav, seeing it was the impetus to join the tour.

And then after lunch, we were off to Holon.

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Criaterra has developed a replacement for concrete as a building material in wall tiles and building blocks using a low-temperature process combining sand, clay, and organic binders.

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Produced now in the Holon factory, Criaterra doesn’t involve the high heat used in producing cement that emits carbon. 

We were able to watch the process of the tiles being made.

I remembered Chairperson Daphna Wiener who spoke to our group. She had been in Jerusalem as a mentor to startups.

And then we were back on the bus and off to Tel Aviv!

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Ok, air conditioners are a necessity in Tel Aviv, but this is a wall of the building that houses the state-of-the-art innovation and technology we were to see.

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It proves the adage of not being able to tell a book by its cover. Add to that old saying – an Israeli tech center, as this is the center of this building complex.

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GreenOnyx founder and CEO Tspi Shoham showed us a compact indoor farm for growing a fresh green vegetable called Khai Nam (Scientific name: Wolffia arrhiza), a healthy green vegetable grown in an efficient method using little space and water. I thought they look like green mini-couscous.

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A buffet table with various samples of ways to serve the greens looked lovely, but the name ‘duckweeds’ still needs improvement.

Then four new Israeli startups were invited to present to us in the GreenOnyx conference room.

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QD SOL Quantum Hydrogen for a Greener World. QD–SOL operates at the cutting edge of green hydrogen technology.

CSO Prof. Lilac Amirav explained her impressive energy panels and her record-breaking nanoparticle photocatalysts.

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Luminescent Heat Engine CEO Doron Tamir spoke of the efficient heat engine technology that can be used for waste heat and for modular concentrated solar power. The origins are from the Technion– Israel Institute of Technology and sorry, no way can I explain it simply here.

Autonomous Pivot uses a ground-penetrating radar device mounted on a center pivot irrigation sprinkler to measure groundwater, as explained by Yuval Aviel who was formerly a senior technical leader at Mobileye.

It’s AI technology, optimizing water use, saving 30% of the water, besides fertilizing and alerting for pest control.

And one more, not only an out-of-the-box idea but far out of Israel!

Rewind is a company that envisions reducing Carbon in the air by sinking organic waste in the sea. Plants capture CO2 – in the Black Sea!

Rewind collects plants and stores them on the bottom of the Black Sea. The Black Sea is unique because it is anoxic and toxic below 200m, making it a long-term storage site for organic carbon. Since countries around the Black Sea are extremely fertile, Rewind plans to scale and remove 1% of global emissions per year by 2030.

This view of Tel Aviv at sunset was disappointing. We were too far from the sea to get a great photograph of the clouds covering the sky as the sun set over the water.

But the GreenOnyx “farm” in the building was truly impressive!

Could it be possible one day, the green fields along the Israeli highways would become obsolete as a slide rule or a manual typewriter?

Thank you to the tour’s sponsor, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, for this amazing opportunity to meet with international journalists. Coming the day after thousands of people in Jerusalem and seeing what was happening at OurCrowd, it was wonderful for international journalists to get a firsthand glimpse into Israeli innovation and tech of the future.

The Jerusalem Press Club and OurCrowd were involved in planning this impressive tour which was organized and kept to schedule by Dr. Gideon Stein, Impact investor and Entrepreneur, and former Chief  Research Scientist at Mobileye. Also on the tour was his wife and professional tour guide Marla Stein who added valuable insights along the way.

In his address to open the OurCrowd Global Investors Summit, Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated climate change was a top priority.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into Climate Change Technology, Innovations & Solutions tour, which highlighted how Israeli technology will benefit the climate in the years ahead, but also the planet in many ways as well.

When are you coming to see what is really happening?

Behind the Scene Making of US Shabbat Shalom Video

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides finished speaking with the Conference of Presidents American Leadership Mission, which includes top leaders from the Conference’s 53-member organizations and its National Leadership Council in Jerusalem, Israel at the Inbal Hotel.

The delegation, led by Conference of Presidents Chair Dianne Lob, and CEO William Daroff, joined Nides in making a Shabbat Shalom video.

שבת שלום