On Wednesday of last week, a delegation representing the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) composed of members of the British Parliament visited the Jerusalem College of Technology – Lev Academic Center. The delegation was interested in learning about the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in Israel. The emphasis of the meeting was on the integration of haredim, men and women alike, in hi-tech professions. It should be remembered that former British ambassador Matthew Gould was instrumental in creating a hi-tech hub between the hi-tech departments and hi-tech companies in Israel and their British counterparts, and this is being continued by current British Ambassador David Quarrey.
Long before various ministers and the Knesset were devising methods and policies to encourage haredim to study hi-tech and enter the workforce, JCT had already established a reputation in this direction simply by offering religious studies in tandem with studies in technology, and thereby was a pioneer in boosting the technological potential of its haredi students.
“The Jerusalem College of Technology can be rightly proud of the remarkable work it has done to unleash the potential of the haredi community. Thanks to the work of organizations such as JCT, record numbers of haredi men and women are participating in the Israeli workforce. JCT gave us an insight into a thriving community. We congratulate JCT and wish them well in all their endeavors,” said Baroness Jane Scott OBE, following the meeting with haredi entrepreneurs who were JCT graduates and are currently running their own companies.
“The Jerusalem College of Technology is one of the places that are revolutionizing Israel. They give everyone in the haredi community all they need in order to succeed,” said Bezalel, one of the entrepreneurs.
Members of the delegation were astounded with what the graduates managed to achieve and asked if the academic studies affected their haredi lifestyle.
The graduates replied that they are “living proof of the fact that you can study in academia without changing a single aspect of your way of life.”
Another CFI delegation will be visiting in September with additional members of Parliament.
Members of the delegation included Baroness Liz Redfern, Scott, Rt. Hon. Esther McVey, Lord Stuart Polak, Stuart Andrew MP, Conor Burns MP, Maria Caulfield MP, Philip Davies MP, Rebecca and Jonathan Djanogly MP, Mike Freer MP, John Glen MP, Philip Hollobone MP, Nigel Huddleston MP, Andrew Percy MP, Rebecca Pow MP, Michael Tomlinson MP, Lance and Rene Anisfeld.
■ SOCIAL MEDIA has its drawbacks, primarily in the damage that can be caused to children who become the naïve victims of pedophiles, or to people who have been publicly shamed, often erroneously with the misinformation remaining out there, regardless of the fact that the person who was shamed has proved that what was conveyed had no foundation.
But there’s also a good side to social media, as for instance not overlooking anyone in your invitation list. Rabbi Israel Goldberg and his wife, Shoshi, have amassed a huge collection of friends and acquaintances in the few years that they have been heading Chabad of Rehavia in Jerusalem. Instead of individually inviting people to the circumcision ceremony for the latest addition to their large brood, which increases on average around every 12 to 18 months, they put out a message on social media announcing that it would take place at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue on Thursday (last week).
The management of the Great Synagogue has allowed Chabad the regular use of its basement facilities, because the Chabad synagogue around the corner is too small to accommodate the ever-growing number of congregants. The basement area of the Great Synagogue, which is quite large and is used on weekdays as a beit midrash, is usually full to overflowing for Chabad Shabbat services. There are many people who do not live within walking distance of Chabad Rehavia but participate in its various activities during the week, and of course they were included in the general invitation.
A lot of the city’s beggars who turn up at the Great Synagogue whenever there is a Shabbat kiddush were also able to take advantage of the invitation to the circumcision.
It’s quite amazing how many beggars and homeless people in Jerusalem have cellphones with Internet access.
■ THE ASSOCIATION of graduates of British Habonim, known as Irgun Bogrei Habonim, has a new chairman. At a recent forum of IBH activists held at Kibbutz Amiad, with participants ranging in age from 20-year-olds to people in their eighties, the leadership baton was passed on by outgoing chairman Aryeh Wolfin of Kfar Hanassi to his successor, Barry Coleman, also of Amiad. Among those present was George Stevens, director of the Haifa urban kibbutz of Habonim-Dror UK yearround and summer programs in Israel. IBH includes former members of UK Habonim / Habonim-Dror both in Israel and around the globe.
Coleman, who was born to a prominent Zionist family in Manchester, has been in Israel for 48 years, having made aliya as a member of Gar’in Zayin of British Habonim together with his wife, Elaine, of Glasgow, and joining other members of the gar’in (nucleus) at Kibbutz Amiad. He was originally a textile technologist but later became manager of the kibbutz industrial outlet – Amiad Water Systems. His IDF service was initially in the artillery and later the air force, and finally the Civil Guard.
He is a veteran of the First Lebanon War, and, while still a member of Habonim in Britain, came to Israel as a volunteer in the Six Day War in 1967. When the Yom Kippur War broke out in October 1973, he had just taken up his duties as an emissary in the US. He is now retired and edits an internal company newsletter.
■ DEPUTY REGIONAL COOPERATION Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) is remarkably active on many fronts and recently visited the Jerusalem-based headquarters of United Hatzalah to explore the options of adopting the cooperative model developed by United Hatzalah and transposing it on a regional scale to Daliat al-Carmel, where the Druse politician lives. Kara has been working tirelessly to improve relations between Israel and its regional neighbors, and was impressed by the manner in which United Hatzalah has succeeded in bridging cultural gaps among its members and the patients whom they treat, providing a comfortable environment for people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds.
He said he was happy to find an organization that puts the saving of lives, as its primary goal, ahead of politics, religion and anything else. “This organization, in my opinion, exemplifies and upholds as an ideal all basic human rights,” he declared.
Kara voiced his belief that the cooperative model used by United Hatzalah could also unify people in what has become one of the most tense areas of unrest in the world.
“I think that here is where people can connect and join together and work together, with everything going on around us. The [lifesaving] technology that I saw firsthand here in the United Hatzalah command center needs to be spread around the entire world, because this organization can create a consensus in a world that is entirely made up of land mines.”
Kara is convinced that cooperation among countries in the Middle East is possible.
“My dream is to create a partnership, a true partnership, with the Palestinian Authority, which will include funding courses for emergency medical treatments and having volunteers work together. Additionally, we need to spread this out to the Arab states around us, and through that we will enter into an era of a new direction for partnerships, with new connections and new opportunities for cooperation.
“We will invite the Palestinians first, and we hope that they will join us. In the near future we also hope to join together with the countries that are in the Saudi Arabian coalition. This is a very new development but one that is possible. We need to spread the message that saving lives is more important than the fighting that takes place throughout the region,” Kara said.
Kara also praised the advanced technology that is being used to save lives every day across the nation. “This vital technology must be shared with other states in the region. Specifically, we need to spread it to Saudi Arabia and Egypt but also as far away as Morocco.
“The message that I am taking with me after my visit is to spread the word of the important work that United Hatzalah does to every country that I visit. I believe that through spreading cooperative work like this, focused on the idea of saving lives, we can achieve regional cooperation. We will take this organization and lift it up on wings. We should have made a much bigger effort to embrace United Hatzalah a long time ago, because there is no greater calling than the saving of lives.”
His enthusiasm for the way in which United Hatzalah is set up and operates will make Kara, who communicates with people across the northern and southern borders, an ideal ambassador for the organization, which will happily cooperate with similar organizations in neighboring countries, and in so doing will make a significant contribution toward eventual peace.