Written by Evan O. ‘16
Friday we went to the Bahai Gardens first thing in the morning. Being the fourth day of the trip we were all understandably quite tired, however this was the activity on our itinerary that I was most excited about. Last year on the MIT Birthright Extension we very briefly stopped at the bottom of the gardens. They were beautiful and I really wanted to go inside to see more. We got to the top of the Bahai Gardens and I was amazed by the view looking down. The original plan was to hike down the gardens and then make our way to the port, however only the top two tiers of the gardens were open to the public at the time we were there. This was both a blessing and a curse. While I wanted to get to see more of the gardens up close, I instead had to be content with wandering through two levels taking some scenery pictures and, of course, tons of selfies. We took a very interesting route down the steps through residential areas of Haifa.
It was quite interesting to see how Haifa changed as we progressed downward. The top where we started was extremely wealthy and it gradually became less and less affluent. It was amazing to see what a huge difference there could be as you walk along a relatively straight line. Also, some of the neighborhoods at the bottom at distinct heritage divisions, as we walked through an Arab neighborhood and then a Russian one. Upon reaching the bottom we went to hear a talk from Kira Rodinzky.
Kira was simply unbelievable. She has accomplished so much at such a young age. She developed an algorithm that uses past news articles to predict future events through correlations and statistical analyses. Even though her work is not even remotely in the same field as mine, I was able to easily find an appreciation for what she did. For example, Kira found a relation between ships colliding, an oil spill, the death of fish a month later, and the death of birds soon after. An example that is much less easy to follow (I’m not sure exactly how it works), is that she has a method for predicting riots as well as how many people will die in the riot. In typical Israeli fashion, she is bringing this technology to a start-up that has received $5 million in funding. Kira really encompasses what Israel is about from a business standpoint, she is technologically innovative and is being entrepreneurial about it.
After having our minds blown by Kira’s algorithm, we made our way to Kibbutz Hannaton. This Kibbutz was drastically different than any one I stayed at on Birthright. Here, there is a mix of all different sects of Judaism coexisting. This place seems really interesting and I’m looking forward to getting to know it more.
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