Twenty-five young Jewish tech leaders working for such leading companies as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have arrived in Israel for a ten-day introduction to the country and to the Israeli tech scene. The visit, dubbed Taglit Tech Challenge, is a partnership between The Jewish Agency for Israel and Taglit-Birthright Israel and is part of a new Jewish Agency initiative entitled Israel Tech Challenge, which will invite young Jewish tech leaders from abroad to get to know the Start-Up Nation and to experience it firsthand via prestigious internships and mentorship programs.
Many of the young tech leaders who will arrive in Israel this week from the United States, France, and Argentina are already employed by such leading companies as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Dropbox. Others are students at such top institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). They will be accompanied by five young Israeli peers who are emerging tech leaders in Israel.
During their visit to Israel, participants will tour sites of historic and religious significance, visit some of Israel’s leading tech companies, and meet with leaders from the Israeli tech community. They will also participate in a hackathon, a competitive 36-hour experience during which they will be required to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social challenges. The winning team will be selected by a distinguished panel of Israeli tech leaders on December 31 (coverage details below).
The Jewish Agency’s new Israel Tech Challenge initiative aims to strengthen young Jewish tech leaders’ connections to their Jewish identities and to the State of Israel. It will offer Jewish students at leading universities and young tech professionals several tracks to enable them to fully experience Israel’s tech community. The initiative will include ten-day visits during which participants will get to know Israel’s tech scene, mentorship programs that will match participants with leading figures in Israel’s tech community, and internships that will enable participants to experience the Startup Nation firsthand over the course of several months. Companies that have already expressed an interest in hosting interns in Israel include Check Point, eBay, Wix.com, PayPal, BillGuard, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and Soluto. A specialized track will offer outstanding participants the opportunity to join their Israeli peers in a prestigious program that will match them with some of Israel’s most innovative thinkers.
Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, said: “The State of Israel is a technological superpower, as well as a center of Jewish inspiration. Our goal is to expose these young people to the modern miracle that is the Start-Up Nation and thus strengthen their Jewish identity and their connections to Israel. I am confident the Israel Tech Challenge experience will enrich both these gifted young people and the Israelis they’ll meet during their time in the country.”
Gidi Mark, Chief Executive Officer of Taglit-Birthright Israel, said: “Taglit Tech Challenge offers extraordinary participants, the future leaders of the tech community, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program offers participants a personalized experience that will enable them to experience technology from an Israeli perspective while they learn about Jewish history and culture.”
The hackathon will conclude on Tuesday, December 31, at Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of the Jewish People, with final pitches at 5 p.m. and a closing ceremony at 7 p.m.