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Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut During a Pandemic

A review of Israeli technology to celebrate Independence Day.

On Wednesday, April 29, Jews around the world and particularly Israelis will celebrate the 72nd birthday of the State of Israel, known in Hebrew as Yom Ha’atzmaut. If you were on the streets of Jerusalem during a “normal” year, you would find block parties, live music, festive prayer at the Western Wall and a general feeling of rejoicing and happiness throughout the city. This excitement extends throughout the whole country and even to Jews in the diaspora.

Despite the limitations of the social distance protocols during the coronavirus pandemic, Yom Ha’atzmaut will still go on. Recent Israeli bloggers have stated that they plan to blast Israeli music in their houses, eat staple Israeli foods such as falafel and shawarma and join as many Zoom parties as the day will allow them. Those are great alternatives and excellent suggestions for how to maintain the typical spirit of Yom Ha’atzmaut while still maintaining social distancing, but we can also celebrate the country and its 72 flourishing years by recognizing the many technological advances that have prepared us for a world of social distancing and coronavirus. 

Israel’s place as a center of innovation came about out of necessity. In order to survive in what was once a disease-ridden desert, Israel had to turn to research and development to transform their land into a sustainable country. Lacking natural resources, they focused on using their human resources. Encouraged to pursue exploration and experimentation, the new immigrants to Palestine ultimately used their acumen to build what has become a hub of technological and medical innovation.

Technological advances developed in Israel, have made working remotely during this time safer and more convenient. An Israeli company, Checkpoint, pioneered the firewall and other network and internet security. Moreover, using technology first intended for its military, Israel has contributed to encryption and data security systems. Along with its work on wireless communications systems, Israel has paved the way for voice mail and voice technologies. Without the in-person connection, many have decided to create their own website and blogs. Luckily, Israel created wix.com, an easy way to “drag and drop” content boxes and create websites. With step by step instructions and accessible features, the Israeli-invented technology helps people of any age connect to others. 

While spending so much time on our devices, computers are overloaded with files. A now daily, well-known and Israeli-invented object, the USB flash drive, has become a necessity to store excess documents. The USB transfers files from your computer to the drive for accessible storage or transferring/sharing of data. And, the technology associated with zip compression came out of the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, which allows people to send large amounts of material through the internet. As everyone is dependent on their computers these days, we cannot overlook the work Israel has done for Microsoft technologies. Microsoft’s Research and Development Center in Israel, the first of such centers outside of the United States, is credited for developing major parts of the windows software.

The pace of innovation in Israel is unparalleled around the world. Israel has the highest per-capita rate of scientists and technicians in the world and the developments coming out of Israel have transformed technology, science and communications.

Israel is currently devoting many resources to the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Applying their research on viruses in animals and fish to the coronavirus, they hope to develop and test a vaccine. Furthermore, Microsoft Israel, Inovytec, LifeCan One are just some of the companies working to design ventilators.  

This “Start-Up Nation” is truly up and running, leading the world.

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Sarah Horvath is a junior at Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in Manhattan. She is an Editorial Board Member of Fresh Ink for Teens.

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