Sara woke up to the sound of Amy Winehouse on her iPhone, texted “good morning!” to her grandma “Bitsy,” and then checked her inbox. The first email she always opened was the History Quote of the Day. She read it out loud:
“The Jews’ greatest contribution to history is dissatisfaction! We’re a nation born to be discontented. Whatever exists we believe can be changed for the better.”
— Shimon Peres
Sara thought about the late Prime Minister’s words for a minute. Not bad.
An hour later, she climbed into an Uber to pick up Bitsy and take her for a colonoscopy. After tugging the door shut, she told her driver, Igor, that she was running late — and had heard traffic was stacked like Pringles.
Igor swiveled around, with the knowing grin of a driver who’d heard those words hundreds of times, and said:
“Well, that’s why they dreamed up Waze!”
(The Waze GPS navigational app was invented in Israel in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine.)
After Igor pulled up to the Las Palmas Village Apartments, Sara popped out and headed for the lobby. She always liked to escort Bitsy by the arm. At 89, walking had started to become a little shaky.
As the pair ambled back toward Igor’s Honda, they saw Bitsy’s friend Stella, being steered in her wheelchair by her husband Gil. Just before they were about to say hi, Stella’s chair took a huge jolt after Gil accidentally pushed it off the edge of the curb.
Sara exclaimed “Oh, my God!” But before she could worry any further, Bitsy told her that Stella’s new wheels absorbed nearly all of the shock.
(The Softwheel 3.0, invented by Tel-Aviv-based SOFTWHEEL reduces pain and increases comfort for wheelchair users. Thousands of U.S. Veterans use Softwheel.)
After Sara helped her into the backseat, Bitsy started telling her granddaughter about her “stupid computer problems.” Whenever Bitsy tried to use Google, her browser automatically connected to some other search site that she hated. “I can’t Google anything on it!!”
Now it was Sara’s turn to deescalate:
“Don’t worry, Gram. We’ll get it cleaned up. And then I’ll put Norton on it.”
“It’s a firewall!”
“What’s a firewall?”
“It’s sort of like Kryptonite for computers. A firewall protects and guards against viruses and stuff. That’s what’s screwing up your Mac!”
(The first firewall software was developed by Gil Shwed, Marius Nacht and Shlomo Kramer, founders of the Israel-based company Checkpoint Software Technologies.)
“Speaking of which,” Sara said as she pulled a thumb drive out of her purse, “we’re gonna also put all the family photos you asked for right on your computer!”
(In 1999, M-Systems in Israel filed a patent for the “USB-based, PC flash disk,” leading to the development of the portable flash drive.)
“Sara, sweetie, what I really want to do is write stories abut the pictures that are my favorites, and then have it be a really nice looking album to send out to everyone in the family. I know you’re so busy with school, but do you have some time to maybe help me with that? You know I’ll fumble it!”
“Well, to paraphrase our new friend Igor here: ‘that’s why they dreamed up Fiverr!’ Sure, I’ll take care of it.”
(Shai Winninger and Micha Kaufman founded Fiverr in Israel in 2010, an Amazon-style online marketplace for free-lance services. Millions of writers, editors, translators, designers, programmers and other professionals use the site in more than 150 countries.)
Igor, who’d been listening, eagerly jumped in: “I’m on Fiverr! I use it to get editors for my video projects, and other people hire me to write scripts for their video!”
Igor got so distracted that he nearly rammed the Jeep he’d been tailgating.
“Sorry about that. We’ll be at the Van Ness Center in about five.”
Now Sara had driver safety on her mind. She asked Bitsy the same question that her dad asked his mother all the time:
“How’s that new car you’re driving? You’d better not be driving at night!”
Bitsy rolled her eyes, smiled, then replied — only half-jokingly:
“Y’know, this helicopter granddaughter routine is getting a little stale. Besides, I COULD drive at night if I wanted to. That car beeps and then flashes me video of anything I even come close to hitting!”
(Mobileye is a Jerusalem-based company and technology developed by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram to safeguard driving through the use of micro-cameras in cars that present live external video according to algorithm.)
As Igor pulled into the Van Ness Hospital parking lot, he couldn’t help but jump in again, pointing to the video console on his center dash: “This thing saves me every day! Brave new world?”
Grandmother and granddaughter thanked Igor and then started walking toward the main entrance of the Van Ness Gastroenterology and Hepatology Center. In just seconds, both of their brains had veered onto the desert heat.
“Geez, Bits, it’s blazing today!”
“Not only that, honey, it’s actually humid. Reminds me of those sticky summers your grandfather and I used to sweat through back east.”
“Yeah. I’m glad we’re here and not there. That thick stuff isn’t for me. Gram, did you know that they can now pull particles right out of the air and turn it into clean water?! Especially when it’s humid like today.”
“Ha! Yeah, sure. That’ll be the day. Just as soon as I’m able to take a jar of sugar and magically turn it into cauliflower! Sometimes I worry you might be a little too gullible at 26.”
Sara smiled to herself. “Okay, Bits. I will try to be savvier.”
(Founded in 2009 in Petah Tikva by Arye Kohavi, the WATERGEN company invented the atmospheric water generator — which creates water from air. WATERGEN works on the challenges of water scarcity and the needs of victims in the aftermath of natural disasters.)
Ninety minutes later, Bitsy’s gastroenterologist, Dr. Chernhill, walked her out to the office lobby where Sara was waiting.
“Well, we’re all done. We got very clear images of Bette’s small intestine, and everything looks okay. The symptoms she’s experiencing are still likely the result of her IBS being inflamed. That’s obviously no fun — but it could be a whole heck of a lot worse.”
“Sweetie, did you know that Dr. Chernhill had me swallow this tiny pill that had a camera in it? The pill was actually taking pictures in there and sending them outside my body to the Doc! I didn’t even need anesthesia!”
Sara did know this, of course. But she teased her beloved by doing a playfully mocking impression of her:
“Ha! Oh, sure! Riiiight. That’ll be the day!”
(PillCam was invented by Israeli engineer Gavrial Iddan and gastroenterologist Eitan Scapa.)
Even the doc laughed along at the spot-on mimic. After telling Bitsy that they would soon email her a full report, he opened the waiting room door for them and said goodbye.
Sara locked her arm inside her grandmother’s and started leading her toward the main entrance. “C’mon, Bits. Our Uber ride home is already waiting for us.”
As they stepped out into the sunshine, all of a sudden Bitsy stopped. Then she wrapped her arms around Sara in a big hug, and shared her most important thought of the day:
“Y’know what I realized, honey? YOU are MY FIREWALL!”
Sara laughed and squeezed her Bits back. “I love you, too, gram.”
All of the characters in the above story are fictional. All of the information is factual.
Israel is a tiny strip of land spanning a mere 8,600 square miles. It has been an official State for just 75 years, and its nine million residents represent one-tenth of one percent (.1) of the world’s population.
Yet Israel is known as the “Startup Nation”: It has more startups per capita than any other country in the world (1 company per 1,400 people). There are currently 80 Israeli-founded “unicorns” (privately held companies valued at over $1 billion) in the United States — more than ever before.
But what these statistics don’t convey is the incredibly disproportionate positive impact that Israel continues to have every day on billions of people around the world. The real-life examples cited above are just a sample of the ways in which Israeli innovation improves the quality of our lives.
These hard-won competitive advantages are among the myriad attractions offered by Israel that Joanna Landau and I write about in our new book, Ethical Tribing: Connecting the Next Generation to Israel in the Digital Era.
Each of us have quite personal reasons why we decided to write this book together. Yet each of us firmly believes that it is in the very best interest of the world to see Israel survive and thrive for generations to come.
We hope you will take a look!
(In its first 15 days of release, Ethical Tribing has become a #1 Bestseller on Amazon in Global Marketing, Digital Media, Judaism, and Business Marketing & Sales!)