ConnecTech is a year-long fellowship for MIT and Technion Jewish students. The primary focus is on student interaction—creating personal bonds between small core groups of students at each institute and strengthening a sense of Jewish peoplehood. For more information or to read our Fellows’ bios, visit our website.

I’ve always considered Israel remarkable for being both the global epicenter of Jewish life and arguably the most technologically innovative country in the world. This past Thursday we got to see both of these attributes back to back.

First, we visited Elbit Systems, a publicly traded international defense company, and had the opportunity to learn about its aerospace and navigational innovations. The technology we saw was truly mind-blowing. For example, El-Al flights have in the past been at risk of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft heat-seeking missiles, easily fired from a rogue terrorist on the ground. In response, Elbit developed anti-missile radar-jammers that are simply affixed to existing aircraft; they will automatically detect an incoming missile and blind its guidance system without any action from a pilot. We also had the opportunity to see the company’s state-of-the-art reconnaissance drones, aircraft navigation dashboards and pilots’ helmets, the latter of which we got to try on.

Later in the day, we visited the religious neighborhood Hadar HaCarmel in the Haifa area to visit ConnecTech alumnus Moti, who lives there with his wife and three daughters. The authenticity of the experience was amazing. Most conversation we heard took place in Yiddish, and we were the only individuals I saw all evening not wearing traditional Hasidic garb. Moti took us to an authentic pop-up cholent restaurant (where we tried at least three different types of cholent, which were all incredibly good), and then to see his synagogue, where a weekly chavrusa was taking place. With our stomachs exploding with cholent and having been incensed by the smells, sights and sounds of yiddishkeit, we finally returned back to Carmel for a good night’s sleep.

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