After 69 Years, Israelis Excited About Future
OpinionCelebrating Yom HaAtzmaut

After 69 Years, Israelis Excited About Future

From education to transportation to diversity, Israel is closing gaps and making advances.

Rabbi David Geffen

Rabbi David Geffen is a native Atlantan and Conservative rabbi who lives in Jerusalem.

Light rail is expanding in Jerusalem.
Light rail is expanding in Jerusalem.

A friend who is au courant about the many projects and startups in Israel wrote the following in February:

“At the opening of the OurCrowd Summit 2017, Mayor Nir Barkat described Jerusalem as the city that unifies people and history. You can walk through the Old City of Jerusalem and see the age-old traditions of the three religions, then you can shop at the nearby Mamilla Mall. You can see archaeology dating back to King David and at the same time visit some of the most innovative high-tech parks in the world.”

The emphasis by John Medved, the CEO of OurCrowd, comes from three words he uses to describe his group’s success: ecosystem, collaboration and future.

You can see how this type of motivation is integrated into Israel and sparks the high-tech field. The continuing dramatic achievements will make the 69th birthday of the country even more fulfilling for Israelis and Am Yisrael everywhere.

Our oldest son, Avie Geffen, is the CEO of Alstom-Israel, a world combine that builds rail systems of all types, even a part of the Metro system in Washington. Alstom built the first light railway in Israel, located in Jerusalem.

Since that innovative train system opened five years ago, the ridership has been 20 percent higher than expected. I have ridden the train over 500 times, and I have watched workers on the way to jobs, children on the way to school, religious women with their heads covered and their babies in carriages, male and female soldiers leaving their homes in Jerusalem and returning, Palestinians, and Haredim.

After the signing in April of the contract between Alstom and Citypass, which operates the light railway, our son will oversee the extension of the Red Line to Hadassah Ein Kerem on one side of the city and to another neighborhood in the northern part of Jerusalem. What also will be added from the main line are short extensions to the Hebrew University in Givat Ram and to the Hebrew University and the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.

This will not be done overnight, and the city of Jerusalem has two other lines for light rail planned. In 20 years Jerusalem will have an outstanding municipal transportation system.

What is occurring in the Israeli education system is encouraging. The Sephardic population of Israel, which has always been trying to catch up with the Ashkenazim, has seen its young people’s scores in countrywide tests rise. There is also an increase of Sephardim studying in the universities and colleges.

Ethiopian Jews are also making their mark in the Israel Defense Forces as officers, in the world of fashion as models, in the court system as judges, and on TV and the Internet as reporters, actresses and actors. The face of Israel is changing, and we are proud of that.

In a real change in Israel, Haredi women are studying in the computer field in their various colleges and entering the high-tech field. Part of this is because Haredi women must support their husbands, who are learning, and their large families, from eight to 13 children or more. High-tech firms have realized that Haredi women can offer their intellect and their dedication to the work field, so more and more are being hired.

We must not forget that in spite of the Haredi anti-IDF demonstrations, Haredi young men are entering Israel’s military forces.

Let us drink l’chayim for Israel’s 69th birthday.

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