Tag: technology

Israeli Breakthroughs in 2011: Prepare to be Impressed!

Want to be impressed by the achievements of a little country in the Mideast? Check out this review, by the Near East Report, on Israeli Breakthroughs in 2011. Prepare to be impressed:
Israel remains the world’s top investor in R&D as a proportion of its GDP. And, based on its achievements in the fields of medicine, clean energy, high tech and other cutting-edge industries, the investment is paying off.
This year, Prof. Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking discovery of “quasicrystals.” The Technion professor, who does double duty at Johns Hopkins University and Iowa State, becomes Israel’s 10th Nobel laureate. Kudos to Tel Aviv University Prof. Yosef Shiloh for winning the top cancer research prize from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Hebrew University Prof. Haim Sompolinsky took home the top prize at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in the United States. Meanwhile, two Israeli geneticists from the Hebrew University – Aharon Razin and Howard Cedar – were the first Israeli winners of the prestigious Canada Gairdner International Award, presented annually to researchers around the globe for outstanding contributions to medical science.
Howard wasn’t the only family member honored in 2011. His son, Israeli film director Yossi Cedar, won the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for his picture “Footnote.” Born in New York, Cedar grew up in Jerusalem and has also directed “Beaufort,” which won the Silver Bear at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar.
More Hollywood news: The documentary film “Strangers No More,” about a Tel Aviv elementary school that boasts students from 48 countries, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject; the hit Israeli TV series, “Hatufim,” has been remade in America as “Homeland,” which U.S. critics are calling one of the best new shows on television; the Walt Disney Company is partnering with an Israeli cinema chain to build a $160 million amusement park in Haifa; Jewish-American filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen won the $1 million Dan David Prize, handed out at Tel Aviv University; and American movie icon Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in the Israeli start-up Mobli, whose product allows users to see real-time events that others are watching.
There were plenty of blockbuster deals in 2011 between the United States and Israel. Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa won a competition to launch a “super science school” on Roosevelt Island off Manhattan. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expects the campus to generate as much as $6 billion in economic activity by creating up to 600 new companies and thousands of permanent jobs in its first 30 years of existence.
Apple is purchasing Israel’s Anobit – a global leader of flash storage solutions – for $500 million. Apple has also announced that the tech giant will be opening an R&D center in Israel – its first facility outside of the United States. Apple will join the ranks of companies with R&D centers already in Israel such as Google, IBM, Oracle, Motorola, Microsoft, Dell and Intel, whose new “Sandy Bridge” microprocessor chip – developed at its Haifa R&D facility – was all the rage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. And it isn’t only high-tech companies that have decided to establish research facilities in the Jewish state. Barclays, one of the ten largest banking and financial services groups in the world, plans to open an R&D center in Tel Aviv.
Medical patients have new hope thanks to a series of Israeli breakthroughs in 2011. An Israeli drug company is testing a promising vaccine that can kill cancer cells. Another company’s device that combines MRI and ultrasound technologies was cited by TIME Magazine as one of the 50 best inventions of the year. Technion researchers have found a way to reverse the aging process. The FDA has approved the “Rewalk,” a device that helps paralyzed people get back on their feet, featured last year on the TV show “Glee.” A new Tel Aviv University study claimscinnamon can prevent and fight Alzheimer’s. Good news, because the U.S. chain Cinnabon has opened for business in Tel Aviv.
Israel’s medical prowess came in handy this year in coping with humanitarian disasters. The Jewish state was the first foreign country to set up a field hospital in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in March, and an Israeli humanitarian organization was recognized for its relief efforts in the wake of this disaster.
Finally, other stories that made headlines in 2011: Electric cars went on sale in Israel this summer; NASA’s final space shuttle mission included an Israeli bone cell experiment; Israel opened a 62-km “Gospel Trail” trail from Nazareth to Capernaum for Christian pilgrims to retrace the route of Jesus; the Israel Museum put the complete Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internetattracting millions of online visitors; two Israeli Arabs represented the country at the Special Olympics in Athens as part of the tennis delegation; the world’s oldest human remains have been found in a cave in Israel; and IDF soldiers delivered a Palestinian baby.
Dear 2012: Can’t wait.

Top 9 New Orleans CCAR Convention Experiences

Not in order of importance… (cross posted on CCAR Convention Blog)

1. Six separate planned experiences of meeting with and conversing 1-to-1 (or in small groups) over important topics: visioning for the reform movement, creating new path for youth engagement, rabbis as techies, interfaith study of difficult texts with non-Jewish clergy, exploring real community and sharing what we would change about our URJ/CCAR/HUC.

2. I met, spoke with and learned from more colleagues than at any previous convention: younger colleagues (esp about deepening tech in the congregation), veteran colleagues (esp about how to keep it fresh as I begin my second 18 years), Twitter buddies (with whom I have tweeted for a year but never met), others (best practices and reaching out to interfaith couples and families).

3. Jazz. So many varieties, so many settings. I found myself, a serious person often, just sitting and smiling. National Parks Service has an amazing New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park with excellent ranger led/sung presentations about development of jazz. Snug Harbor offered intimate wonderful show, as did Preservation Hall. Maison Bourbon and others kept me toe tapping, late nite staying out, and amazed at rich jazz traditions.

4. Time with my wife to learn together, talk, walk, worship hand in hand, revel in friendships and our friendship.

5. The level of tech in the convention was impressive. Light years over last year. Bravo to CCAR technology production manager Dan Medwin and the whole CCAR staff for this leap. Showed some best practices in praxis. Plus the tweeting (#CCAR11) of the sessions allowed me to virtually attend those I could not physically get to. And catch the coolness (an usefulness) of the CCAR NOLA app!

6.  Rabbis Michael White, Laura Novak Winer, Eric Yoffie and NFTY advisor Kiki Kamenetz inspired me – really moved me – to rethink youth engagement holistically. Can’t wait to talk to youth advisor, rabbinic intern/educator an lay leaders about the inspiration.

7. I felt reached out to, heard, befriended. Of course, being older and more secure may have spurred me to be more open.

8. Continued to revel, by comparison, about my Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA), a healthy, musical, non-dysfunctional, forward thinking, tech-enlightened, partner-filled community, led by talented, non-egocentric leaders. I am so blessed to be part of them.

9. Great music at convention: Jewish Panorama Jazz Band, Shades (New Orleans Interracial Gospel Choir), others. Showed how the arts can bring Jewish experience to new heights.

10. Worship that inspired me, allowing me moments of transcendence and immanence, to converse with the Source of All.

11. A program committee which wove Torah learning, community engagement, and practical rabbinics with small group interactions, fabulous speakers (Peter Beinart and Ammi Hirsch, Peter Block), music and few talking heads. I tip my kippah to you.

Bravo also to the whole CCAR national staff for listening, supporting, and challenging us all.

More to write and process and think about and meditate upon and ask more about… But that’s for later.

Or Ami Wins URJ Techie Awards

They like us… they really like us!

Okay, though it isn’t the Academy Awards, we celebrate that Congregation Or Ami won 3 (of 5 available) Union for Reform Judaism Techie Awards in the first year they were awarded.  Out of 900 Reform Movement congregations in North America, Or Ami was chosen for having the:

We take special pride in these Techie Awards for they recognize our purposeful process of using new technology to spread the ancient words of Torah. Once upon a time, books, newspapers and even two stone tablets, were new technology.  Today, we use blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more to promulgate our Jewish tradition and values.

So as we celebrate these honors, we recognize and thank a long list of people involved in the creation or continuation of Or Ami’s ventures into technology (I apologize at the outset for those who I neglected to mention):
  • David and Marla Greenman, who birthed our first website
  • Educator Josh Barkin (currently at Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles), who as an intern set up our first blog, and later was my tweeting role model
  • Steve Besser, who created our first Illuminating News eNewsletter template
  • Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, who blogs as Ima on (and off) the Bima, by whose example I became a better blogger
  • Educator Michal Rozenberg-Yalovsky, who as Program Director, served as webmaster for over four years
  • Marsha Rothpan, who as Program Director, took over Illuminating News and who serves as webmaster
  • Susan Gould, Steve Keleman, Darryl Lieberstein, Vadim Pariser, and Alice and Donald Goldsobel, who revised our website
  • Educator Rachel Margolis, currently of Raleigh, NC, who taught me the Constant Contact eNewsletter program
  • Rabbi Dan Medwin, who as an intern introduced us to Visual T’filah, pushed me into Apple products, and taught me about Twitter
  • Susan Gould and Kim Gubner, who attended a Social Networking Seminar with me and pushed our Facebook page – designed in part by teen Jessa Cameron – to the next level
  • Michael Kaplan, whose photographs and videos guided Or Ami into Pbase and later MobileMe galleries
  • Jewish Non-Profit professional David Harris, whose graduate thesis provided insights into the use of Facebook in non-profits and who is one of our Twitter role model and friends
  • Vadim Pariser, who set up Constant Contact, set up our first webcasts, transferred our email quickly to Gmail Applications, and does all things technological
  • Jacob Braunstein, who first webcast our High Holy Day services
  • Cantor Doug Cotler, who encouraged the expansion into technology and guided our Visual T’filah work
  • Susie Stark, Joy Haines, Barbara Gordon and Lori Cole, who make our technology work – from Chaverware Membership Data Base system to Hineynu Tracker to our webcalendar
What’s your favorite technology at Congregation Or Ami?