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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Bnei Akiva’

True Role Models (Part Six)

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

This is the sixth part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years.

There seems to be a whole group of people who have little or no knowledge of early aliyah from America, but who insist on making ridiculous statements about us. A recent news item which appeared in Ha’aretz, the Jerusalem Post and other newspapers this past month was again misinformed about the aliyah of the past 50 years.

This article lauded the great work of Nefesh B’Nefesh (which is correct). Unfortunately, it went on to mention a so-called scientific survey of immigrants over the past two years, and explained how extremely valuable a resource they are to the Israeli economy (which is true). The survey, reportedly prepared by I-Biz Israel Business Information Services, stated that “this aliyah is the group with the greatest potential economic contribution in the history of Israeli aliya.”

This survey found that more than half of the immigrants associated with the organization have a first university degree, and one-quarter have completed a second degree as well. “We’re talking about the crème de la crème of the most advanced society in the world,” said Pinchas Landau, an economic analyst who prepared and presented the report results this week. “We’ve never seen olim like these.”

The readers of this series know by now, however, that these “scientific studies” reported in the news are nonsense. They are insulting to previous olim and very inaccurate. Highly educated Americans were already coming to Israel in the early 30s both from Bnei Akiva and from other Zionist organizations, with one or two degrees to their names.

Over the past 60 years, the true “crème de la crème” have come and contributed to build Israel. If it wasn’t for the early American olim, the recent immigrants would not have a highly industrial nation to come to.

Just look at what these “less educated” olim of the past have accomplished. Early American olim included people like Prime Minister Golda Meir; Dov Joseph, government minister; Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah; Rabbi Shlomo Riskin; Al Schwimmer, founder of Israel Aircraft; Jonathan Kolber, CEO of Koor Industries; Naomi Ragen, author; Rabbi Chaim Brovender; Prof. David Hartman; Defense Minister Moshe Arens; Judah Magnes, founder of Hebrew University; and many others. Just look in the 70th Anniversary Journal of Bnei Akiva of North America and Canada to find hundreds of additional names.

* * *

David Goldfarb grew up in New York City. He attended the Bnei Akiva Hachshara in 1979. He received his BS degree in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, David worked with an MIT group to develop the Internet TCP/IP protocols and has been an avid user of the net ever since. He worked at Symbolics – a startup that grew to 1,000 employees and was known as the foremost Artificial Intelligence (AI) company in the 1980s. At Symbolics, David helped to install the first AI work stations in Israel, at the Weizmann Institute, in January, 1985.

In October 1985, David and his family made aliyah. They decided that they could lead at least as good a life in Israel as in Boston. In Israel, David was involved in numerous startups, and created a wealth of technology here. In the early 90s, David championed and spearheaded a rewrite of software for HBOC Pegasus, an Israeli software company developing a Windows application for the medical market. He designed and wrote major portions of the application, guided in-house developers, and advised management regarding the latest advances in Windows. Later, he co-founded 2AM Development Ltd., and served as VP of Technology, heading its software development and design, patent coordination, and technical strategy practices.

In 1988, David created Degel, a consulting company offering software management, technical direction, programming services, graphical user interfaces, image processing, and internet information retrieval.

* * *

Mitchell D. Mittman and his wife arrived in Israel with their two small children 13 years ago. He and his wife, Helene, lived in Flatbush and had been married eight years before they made aliyah.

Prior to his aliyah, Mitchell had worked as a financial strategist for seven years at Goldman, Sachs and Co, reporting to the currency and commodity options desks. Before that, he was a senior consultant in the international auditing department with Price Waterhouse. While he enjoyed the work tremendously, his youth leaders in Bnei Akiva had done their jobs so well that he and his wife knew that the only place for them was in Israel.

Many of their friends from Bnei Akiva had already moved to Israel, and they knew that they would have a warm support group waiting for them to arrive. Some of their friends were on kibbutz and some of them were in the cities, but all were happy that they had made the move.

When they arrived in Israel, Mitchell spent a year at Contahal, a software development company. There he led the team that was responsible for localizing some of HP’s software products, as well as interfacing with a number of companies in Silicon Valley that were interested in exporting their software tools to Israel.

After that, he joined a small hedge fund that specialized in trading foreign exchange options. While the firm did well, Mitchell decided to return to his original love of creating software and he started a company to focus on the software requirements of traders, specifically in foreign exchange. He started out as a company of three people; now they have grown to more than 40 staff members, and Mitchell is the Chief Technology Officer.

The research and development group is based in Ra’anana, and the firm’s main sales office is in NYC. The company client list represents some of the largest financial institutions in the world.

Mitchell and Helene live with their four children in Tzur Yigal, a suburb of Kochav Yair. Their eldest, Eliyahu, currently in Mechina Peduel, is enjoying his time there and is eagerly awaiting his draft into the Israel Defence Forces. Their second child, Elisheva, is a madricha (counselor) in the local Bnei Akiva snif (branch) Nitzana, their other daughter and first Tzabarit, is in seventh grade, and their youngest, Gilad, is happily ensconced in kindergarten.

Neither Mitchell or Helene ever “shnorred” from their parents and neither of them was running away from anything. Rather, they were running towards their dream of living in Israel.

* * *

Shalom Lampert made Aliya one month after finishing his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at MIT (Boston) in 1983. He left behind his wonderful family – parents and siblings – and came. His wife, Chaya, also an MIT grad, left her warm and loving family in Brookline, MA to move to Israel (two days after their wedding).

In Israel, Shalom worked for 12 years in Research and Development for Israel Chemicals.

He worked for five years in Patent Law for a large Israeli IP Law firm and as a consultant in the Chemical Processing Industry. He started two IP companies to manage the chemical technologies that he developed (related to the fields of salts processing, recovery of salts from sea brine, crystallization, and waste treatment).

In Maalot, he teaches Torah to Olim from the former Soviet Union. He also gives a class to English-speaking Olim in Karmiel. Both are sponsored by “El-Ami BaTzafon”. He, his wife Chaya and their nine children live in the “development town” of Maalot. Chaya, also an MIT graduate, teaches computer science at Maalot’s Ulpana. They belong to a people with great ideals, and they made aliya “for the right reasons”.

(To Be Continued)

Comment may be sent to
dov@gilor.com.

70 Years And Growing

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Chaverim came from every city, town, religious Kibbutz and settlement in Israel. They came from all over the USA and Canada. They came to Jerusalem to celebrate and to reestablish ties with friends who will never be forgotten. They came to Jerusalem’s International Convention Center (Binyanei HaUma) to honor the contributions of former members of Bnei
Akiva to Israel’s growth. They came to reminisce and to remember.

Bnei Akiva, for most of us, was not just a youth organization. It was a way of life. It was what kept us focused on religion. It was what encouraged us to settle in Israel. It was our second home and often our first home. It was what kept us sane in our teenage years and it channeled our energies into positive and constructive directions. It was Camp Moshava, which filled our summers with fantastic activity. It was lessons in leadership as we grew into the role of
managing the organization. For many years it was our whole life.

There is no other way to explain the phenomenon of some 2,500 Israeli parents “abandoning” their children and grandchildren during the most intensive week of Bnei Akiva activity (the end of Chodesh Irgun) to come to Jerusalem for the reunion. There is no other way to explain the phenomenon of some 300 Chaverim who flew to Israel for the weekend from North America for the reunion. There is no other way to explain the happiness and tremendous feelings of
joy that were expressed and that stayed with us for many days after the event. We were on a high, and no foreign substances were involved. The feelings were so intense and the demands that we not wait another 10 years for the next reunion were expressed so often, that the reunion co-chairman, Nasan Friedman, announced on Shabbat that we are planning already
for the 75th and will not wait until the 80th anniversary.

Over the years, Bnei Akiva has encouraged thousands of its members to “go up” and to settle in Israel. The men and women, former Chaverim and Chaverot, have contributed to many fields, including: industry, the health system, political parties, the economy, law, education, Gemilut Chassadim and religious institutions, and the defense establishment. These contributions were honored at the reunion.

The evening began with a display of hundreds of pictures, documents, pamphlets, shirts, pins and other memorabilia saved with loving care by Chaverim over the past 70 years and carefully mounted by Chana Spiegelman and her volunteers into a beautiful display. Shanen Werber arranged for photography, news coverage and hotel reservations and Ilan Roth
arranged for many vendors to sell their goods.

Nasan Friedman and Itchie Fuchs were the co-chairmen of the event and Steve Frankel was the heart and soul behind the scenes, working hundreds of hours to coordinate all of the activities and volunteers. Kadish and Batzion Goldberg, Ruchie Avital and Moish Goldberg were the stars of the show that was very professionally produced by Nati Malchi. The show also included the Bnei Akiva singers, a chorus of old-timers and a video presentation of scenes from the past gleamed from old 8mm movies and some more modern video tapes of Camp Moshava, Hachshara and videotaped interviews with several Chaverim. I prepared the journal (with the editing help of my wife, Barbara) and kept everyone updated via the Internet.

Yoske Shapiro, one of only three speakers, spoke of the importance of Aliyah and asked that you urge your children to come and then follow them. Marc Belzberg, chairman of Board of Governors of World Bnei Akiva, spoke of the scope and depth of the wonderful work that Bnei Akiva does. Rabbi Chaim Druckman, a former Shaliach, read the prayer for the
State of Israel. Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), read the prayer for the welfare of Israeli soldiers and spoke of how in the IDF they work to develop the entire person, to accept every Jew and forge one Jewish nation.

A highlight of the show was a very touching duet by the Goldbergs praising their children in the IDF, accompanied by a beautiful video presentation of the various branches of the Defense Forces. The most poignant moment was when some 3,000 people stood up and sang the Bnei Akiva anthem “Yad Achim,” followed by Hatikvah.

For Friday morning, Moish Goldberg had organized a series of Shiurim featuring former Bnei
Akiva Chaverim, including: Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, Rabbi Chaim Brovender, Rabbi Aharon Rakefet, Rabbi Aryeh Weiss, Rabbi Ari Chwat, Rabbi David Bigmen, Avraham Stein, Rochel Levemore and Leah Abramowitz.

In many hotels in Jerusalem there were groups of Bnei Akivaniks spending Shabbat together. Ninety members of Shevet Moriah, for example, gathered in the Ariel Hotel and, according to Mindy Frankel, had the most exciting and uplifting Shabbat ever. From all of the hotels, we walked to the Kotel for Friday night Tefilla and gathered at Heichal Shlomo for Shabbat
morning. On Saturday night we gathered for a solidarity Melave Malka at the recently bombed Cafe Hillel to declare that terror will not deter us. Rabbi Benny Elon, Minister of Tourism, joined us and mentioned that his mother-in-law was a former Hashomer Hadati Chavera and he spoke of the wonderful influence that Bnei Akiva has on youngsters around the world. It was a weekend not to be forgotten.

Bnei Akiva Reunion

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

Bnei Akiva of North America (and Hashomer Hadati) will be 70 years young this year. A reunion of all former members (Chaverim) is being planned for Thanksgiving weekend (November 27-30, 2003) in Jerusalem. More than 2,000 former Chaverim from Israel and about 800 from the U.S.A. and Canada are expected to attend. It should be a great experience for bogrim of all ages from Bnei Akiva, Camp Moshava, and the various Hachsharot. Nosan Friedman, Itchie Fuchs and Steve Frankel are coordinating the event.

The main event, an evening of nostalgia and reunion, is scheduled to be held in the Jerusalem Convention Center (Binyaney HaUmah) on Thursday evening, November 27, between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Much of the evening will be spent viewing the exhibits of old photos and mementos, socializing with Chaverim, and visiting the booths of the exhibitors planning to display their products at the convention. A special short program saluting the contribution of North American Bnei Akiva Chaverim to Israel is being produced. Those willing to lend pictures, videos and other paraphernalia from the past should contact Steve Frankel c/o Bnei Akiva, Suite 205, 7 Penn Plaza, NY 10001, or Frannie Abell, Harimon 23, Yishuv Hashmonaim, 73127, Israel (08) 976-6539.

A journal, to include greetings from both advertisers and Chaverim will be published. Greetings from Chaverim by Snif, Mosh, Hach and/or Shevet and a special set of pages for those who want to include their “jewels” (children or grandchildren), will be included. A list of all of those who pre-register will be included at no extra charge. Former Chaverim from the USA who cannot come but would like to be listed in the Journal for a small fee, should contact me via email or via the BA office. Email updates and the placement of your name on the list of Chaverim may be requested by sending me an email at reunion@bneiakiva.net.

The group coming from North America will be able to purchase flights and hotels at special rates (Contact Stuart Katz at (516) 825-0966 x102). Each participant from abroad travelling via Bnei Akiva will receive free admission to the event in Binyanei Hauma. An optional program of side trips, a full Shabbat program and a Melava Malka on Saturday night are also being planned. Those living in Israel are invited to participate in any or all of the events of the weekend.

There are two web sites where additional information may be found: www.bneiakiva.net has old photos and other information and www.bneiakiva.org allows North Americans to register. Those living in North America may also contact their nearest Bnei Akiva office for more information. Please pass this information to your friends who were former Chaverim and come join the fun!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/bnei-akiva-reunion/2003/10/22/

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