A couple years ago, I learned about a new program that merges three areas I am passionate about --Jewish camping, Israel, and technology. Israel has always embraced high technology and modern communication. Part of what has made the almost sixty-year-old nation's economy flourish in the past two decades has been the success of its hi-tech sector.
Is it a sign of high-tech spiritual devotion, or just another step in the melding of Israelis and their cell phones?
Reuters reports this week that an enterprising Jerusalem company is offering a text-message service for those who can't make it to the Western Wall, where Jews traditionally deposit handwritten prayer notes in the ancient crevices. They are called p'takim in Hebrew, but more commonly referred to in Yiddish as kvitlach.
Upset about what they view as excessive restriction of Internet use at a Queens campus of Touro College, some students are bypassing a filter system at the Lander College for Men's dormitory that blocks search engines.
Although greater access is allowed elsewhere at the Orthodox college in Kew Gardens Hills, the filter is meant to prevent students from accessing content through the dorm's free high-speed access system that the administration deems morally inappropriate or likely to cause distraction from learning.
Israeli high-tech prowess may not be the first thing on anyone’s mind as the Eagles meet the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX on Sunday.
But those headsets the coaches wear to communicate with their staff will be using technology developed by one of a growing number of Israeli firms that are making their mark on telecommunications here.
Seeing an area of unrealized potential, Israeli firms and trade officials are preparing a major push in marketing biotechnology partnerships with American companies. “Israel has tremendous potential in life sciences,” said David Rubin, Israel’s trade envoy to North America at a recent Manhattan conference exploring cooperative ventures. “We have the scientists and the means to do the work. In the next five to 10 years, we can capture a larger share of the international market.”
The battle for Jerusalem has hit cyberspace. Israel’s mission to the United Nations this month created its own Web site to counter what Israeli officials maintain is a stepped-up offensive by the Palestinian Authority to argue its case on the Internet.
On the new Israeli UN Web site, a section titled “Palestinian Web Watch” contends the Palestinians are using their Web pages to violate the Wye agreement that calls for resolving outstanding issues through negotiations.
A Hebrew version of Microsoft’s home page is expected to be up and running in early December as a result of a joint effort by the Microsoft Corp. and Internet Gold, Israel’s leading Internet service provider.
Instead of having a messenger take an X-ray from one end of the hospital to the other earlier this month, technicians at Soroka University Medical Center of the Negev used an internal computer network to effect the transfer.
“We are one of the most advanced hospitals in Israel because of this,” said Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the hospital’s director general. “Our whole hospital is wired — 1,000 beds spread over 75 acres. Every departments is now connected.”