At the end of Shabbat, we sat in a circle outside the Ruth Daniel Residence in Tel Aviv and were asked to describe the ConnecTech program in one word. Inspired by this activity, I have decided to choose three words that have summarized my experience this past week.
Haifa has a diverse population that is a home to many different faiths who live and work together. During the ConnecTech trip we were fortunate enough to visit the Baha’i Gardens, tour the German Colony that leads into the Arab village of Wadi Nisnas, and eat cholent at Ramat Vizhnitz, where members of the Vizhnitz Hassidic community live. The coexistence in Haifa is inspiring and a model to the world for how people of various backgrounds and faith can live together.
On one of the nights during the trip, we made poike along the beach in Haifa. Poike is a dish that is prepared by combining meat, vegetables, rice, carrots and potatoes (and several other ingredients) all in a pot, and heating the pot for two hours near a fire. While we were preparing the poike, I was able to talk to several Israelis about their experiences at the Technion and about their family histories. One particular story that stood out to me was when an Israeli told me that his great-grandfather attended the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897. He said that his great-grandfather was an inspiration for him today and has strengthened his connection with Israel.
Throughout the ConnecTech trip, it was very meaningful to hear from various Israelis about their connections to Judaism and Israel. It was interesting to learn about their different backgrounds and family histories and compare them to my own background and experiences.
I have been on various trips to Israel throughout my life, but I have never had the unique opportunity to visit various sites in Israel while also interacting with Israeli students who are passionate about science and technology, just like me. I enjoyed listening to Israelis forming start-ups, hearing high-schoolers motivated to get accepted into the Shmoneh-Matayim (intelligence) unit in the army, and visiting Matam—an international technology center that contains research and development facilities for companies like Amazon, Intel, Apple, Microsoft and Google. Although at MIT we are over 5,000 miles away from the Technion students in Haifa, we share many common interests and are both passionate about using technology to make the world a better place.
Keren Starobinski is an electrical engineering and computer science student at MIT.
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