Whilst all of the Jewish State is totally focused on the fate of three young Israeli boys, here are some recent news items that illustrate the importance that the Jewish State places on its children and youth.
Statistics published by the National Library to mark annual Hebrew Book Week shows that children's literature is a thriving sector, with 879 new books published last year. Education standards in Israeli schools are also improving and for the first time, the European Foundation for Quality Management recognized four Israeli schools for implementing its Excellence Model for organizational management.
Today’s curriculum isn’t restricted to reading, writing and arithmetic. For example, 700 children from 18 Israeli middle schools took part in Israel’s “Youth, Water & Knowledge” program and competition to help prepare the next generation of Israeli water experts. First prize went to the Israeli-Arab Al Mutanabi school of Kfar Manda. Children’s education also isn’t confined to the classroom. At the Mini Maker Fair at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem, children were encouraged to build robots, games and 3D products in 3D printers, all using new technology. Half a million Israeli children receive after-school environmental education to promote the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic bottles.
Israeli students are bringing home more prizes than ever. Israeli 12th graders returned from the 2014 Asian Physics Olympiad in Singapore with five medals and three honorable mentions. Meanwhile, pupils from Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center in Beer-Sheva won their 45th prize in the "First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics" competition. Israel has won the most prizes of all countries, since the US-based competition began in 2007.
Three of Israel’s older students have demonstrated their skills by winning second place at an International engineering students’ conference in Turkey. Other students at the IDC’s miLAB in Herzliya are researching the next big start-up by exploring the future of technology, media and human-computer interaction.
Israeli children often “make a difference” before they have even left school. A group of 13-year-olds from the Harel School in Lod has made a breakthrough that can help developing countries, by filtering water, using ground pieces of rubber made from scrap tires. And a tiny 840 grams satellite designed by a group of Israeli high school students at the Herzliya Science Center was successfully launched in Russia. Duchifat 1 will help locate lost travelers in areas with no cell phone reception.
Many of Israel’s innovations are aimed at helping children. Israel’s Andromeda Biotech was doing so well in the Phase III trials of its DiaPep277 therapy for Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes that it was bought by US pharmaceutical company Hyperion. Israel’s Tal Sagie recently launched Therapee - the world’s first online interactive program for treating enuresis (bedwetting). Tal and his father Jacob at their clinics have already cured 27,000 children of the problem. Meanwhile, Israeli industrial designer Yoav Mazar has developed the Doona – for those families with infants that want to avoid packing the car with both a car seat and a stroller / buggy.
Of course Israelis don’t just look after their own children. Israel’s Dr. “Miki” Karplus recently explained some simple techniques that Israeli doctors use to save lives of babies in Ghana. The BBC has produced a film “Keepod ‘magic drives’ put Nairobi’s children online” to show how the $7 device can provide billions with computer access. Strangely, the BBC didn’t mention that the Keepod is an Israeli invention! Now over to Northern Ethiopia where two Israeli physicians from Haifa’s Rambam Medical center, Dr. Omri Emodi and Dr. Zach Sharony, performed 91 operations in 5 days to repair cleft lips and pallets.
The Jewish Agency for Israel held a camp for 100 children (Jews and Arabs) from southern Israel whose lives have been affected by rocket fire from Gaza and by other terror attacks. And for ten years, the Middle East Education through Technology (MEET) program has been uniting budding young hi-tech Palestinian Arab and Israeli entrepreneurs. Palestinian Arab anesthesiologist Wafiq Othman, however, told one of the most moving recent stories. Israeli doctors at Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) saved his younger brother’s life and inspired Wafiq to train with SACH.
I’ll conclude by mentioning some programs that give opportunities for young people from overseas to see the Startup Nation for themselves. Firstly, Israel’s Big Idea Summer Camp will teach new technologies to children aged between 7 and 18 from 30 countries. Israel’s Technion has two programs for students from the USA. TeAMS (Technion American Medical School) in Haifa trains students to a standard high enough for the top US medical centers and University hospitals. And the Technion’s latest exchange program with the University of Connecticut promotes joint research into new energy technologies.
Finally, there were over 13,000 submissions to the “My Family Story” competition for the best 3-D Art representation of their family history. 42 youngsters won a trip to Israel and will have their entries displayed at Tel Aviv University’s Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People.
We pray for the safe return of our children Gil-ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach.
The future of the Jewish nation is the next generation.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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