Editor's Letter

As Israel celebrates its 66th birthday, we at Oregon Jewish Life thought it would be a good time to pay tribute to the gifts Israel has given the world. For a small nation with a tiny fraction of the world’s population, Israel boasts a surprisingly large number of Nobel Prizes in various sciences and so many patents that the UN’s Intellectual Property Organization named Israel one of 15 World Patent Centers.
Our Israel coverage opens with columnist Mylan Tanzer exploring why Israel is known as the “Startup Nation,” a phrase coined by Saul Singer and Dan Senor in their 2009 book of that name. Mylan explores their premise from the perspective of an American who moved to Israel more than 30 years ago and was surprised to find an almost third-world infrastructure. That may reflect the fact that Israelis are doers, not planners – many are too busy applying their technical brilliance to innovation to spend a lot of time planning for an uncertain future.

Israel is recognized worldwide for medical advances in disciplines ranging from cancer to trauma treatment. In this issue we look at innovations from Israeli universities and companies to improve treatment of brain injuries and disorders including concussions and cerebral palsy. Freelance writer Ilene Schneider participated in a media mission to Israel cosponsored by Ben-Gurion University and saw some amazing innovations in that field.

Technology isn’t Israel’s only export of course. The son of a Conservative rabbi discovered Israeli craft beer while studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva and is now importing some of his favorite discoveries to Oregon and a few other states.

Israeli Shlicha (female emissary) Sharon Halfon has spent much of this school year sharing Israeli culture with college students on Portland-area campuses. Now she hopes the whole community will gather for the May 5 Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration she has spent months planning. The evening event will feature Israeli history, food, music, dancing and crafts for all ages.

At age 66, Israel has existed as a modern nation longer than most Jews have been alive. In Israel, only about 10% of the Jewish population was born before Israel became a state; in America, some 23% were alive when the Jewish state was founded.

In our Senior Section we feature some of the programs available for those older Americans and profile some of the people who have stayed active and found the retirement years offer their own rewards.

At the other end of the spectrum, our J Kids & Teens features youth in a martial arts program who gained wisdom and life perspectives from a visit by a Holocaust survivor. Interviews with teenagers on gap year programs in the Jewish homeland show that those born long after the creation of that nation can experience the miracle that is Israel.

Happy Birthday Israel – and may you celebrate many more.

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