Soldiers draft to help people with autism

Current and former members of an Israel Air Force tech unit participate in unique hackathon to overcome challenges posed by autism. The unusual tech marathon was a joint effort between the Israeli Air Force’s elite Ofek (Horizon) technology unit and ALUT, the Israeli Association for Autistic Children.

Sarah and Avraham (not their real names) juggle high-tech careers with parenting an autistic child. It is never easy to find a babysitter for an evening out, let alone 24 hours away from home – but they managed to participate in a recent overnight hackathon hosted at the Tel Aviv offices of Playbuzz.



About 85 volunteers, including current and former members of the squad, gave up a night’s sleep to organize and participate in the event, whose purpose was to design projects that could ease the lives of autistic children, their families and therapists. Sponsors included IBM, Dell EMC, Samsung NEXT, mPrest Systems and Interblog.

Months of brainstorming among Ofek graduates and parents, counselors, professional therapists and ALUT staff members identified challenges such as understanding social situations and choosing an appropriate response; remembering how to accomplish everyday activities; and expressing emotions.

Sarah and Avraham’s team designed a prototype Emotion to Expression (e2e) app based on research that autistic children can be trained to imitate facial expressions conveying happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness.


Another challenge addressed at the hackathon was voice modulation. People on the autism spectrum tend to speak robotically and loudly, inadvertently causing tension and confrontation, Sarah explains.

In response, one of the hackathon teams designed a high-tech device that alerts the speaker to inappropriate patterns and allows him or her to adjust volume and pitch. The idea is that the constant feedback will train users to adjust without prompting.

Another project was a smart checklist that breaks down everyday tasks into ordered subcomponents, using audible alerts to prompt each action.

“For example, brushing teeth is broken down into small actions like opening the toothpaste tube. As the person gets used to performing each action independently, the list gets shorter,” Avraham says.

Click here to read the entire article –

Until next time


Israel will always remember

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Israel takes a day to remember the lost lives of the horrible terror attack on 9/11/2001.


Israel built a Memorial for the 9/11 terror attack. Watch it here.


Yesterday while watching videos about this horrible attack, I learned something new about the first victim of the attack. I wanted to share this video with you. Please be advised the contact might be difficult to hear. Watch it here.


If you feel like you need to talk to someone about 9/11 Memorial day please contact me at

Until next time…


Winnie the Pooh in Israel!

This is not a joke! I promise! 😉

I’m sure most of you has already been to Israel, explored the streets and markets, the beachs of the Mediterranean Sea and the beaches of the Dead Sea.

I’m sure you told all your friends and I’m also sure you posted pictures everywhere!

Well one childhood character decided to take you up on your suggestions and go visit Israel with some friends.

A new art show presents: “Winnie the Pooh in Israel”. The drawings were created for the “Little pleasures” are show in honor of the book’s 90 years’ celebration. And you can see it in the Beit Ariella art gallery starting February 26th.

Here are some of the pictures presented in the gallery.


Winnie and friend in the Dead Sea


Winnie celebrating Rosh Hashana


Winnie and friends shopping in Machne Yehudam Jerusalem


Winnie and friends picking oranges in the Kibbutz


Winnie and friends exploring Rothschild street in Tel Aviv

What other childhood character would you love to see traveling in Israel?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…


Jewish Valentines Day

Hello everyone!

I hope your summer is going great!

Not long ago we celebrated the Jewish holiday of love – top-heart-clip-art-photo-for-love-and-cutes-download-free Tu Be’

Of course this holiday also has a story behind it – just like every other Jewish holiday.

According to the Mishna, Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, marking the beginning of the grape harvest. Yom Kippur marked the end of the grape harvest. On both dates, the unmarried girls of Jerusalem dressed in white garments, and went out to dance in the vineyards (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Ta’anit 30b-31a).


Another interesting thing that happen on that day in the Jewish tradition is that while the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years, female orphans without brothers could only marry within their tribe, to prevent their father’s inherited land in the Land of Israel from passing on to other tribes. On the fifteenth of Av of the fortieth year, this ban was lifted.

Furthermore, that same year, the last of the generation of the sin of the spies, which had been forbidden to enter the Promised Land, found that they were not destined to die. For forty years, every Tisha B’av night, the Jews made graves for themselves in which they slept on Tisha B’Av; every year a proportion of them died. In the 40th year, the fifteen thousand who had remained from the first generation went to sleep in the graves and woke up the next day to their surprise. Thinking they made a mistake with the date, they did this until they reached Tu B’Av and saw a full moon. Only then did they know they were allowed to live.

In modern times, it has become a romantic Jewish holiday, often compared to Valentine’s Day, and has been said to be a “great day for weddings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows, or proposing”. Also, “It is a day for romance, explored through singing, dancing, giving flowers, and studying.”


But up until recent years this holiday of love was not a part of the Jewish calendar, there were no special celebrations on it. Today this is a holiday just like Valentine’s Day when couples celebrate their love to each other.


I hope you celebrated this holiday of love with important people in your life.

Want to know more about the holiday of love in Israel?

Contact me at

Until next time…


Summer time in Israel!

You have heard a lot about Israeli summer – it’s hot, it’s moist and it’s absolutely amazing.

No, I am not being sarcastic – when you have Israeli beaches to spend those hot summer days – it is amazing!


As an adult you don’t have “summer vacation” so the summer is not really a big change during the week. However, when you are a kid? You can’t wait for the school year to end.

Israel does not have sleep-away summer camps like there are in the USA; we have “day camps” where kids go to camp every day between 8am and 5pm so that the parents can go to work. There are the regular summer day camps where kids just have fun all day long and make new friends and experiences, and there are specialty day camps such as English camp (for learning English), art camp and even software coding camp (yes, we start them young). Day camps are usually a few weeks long, which means most kids get to go to two different camps during the summer vacation.


When you are older than primary school, you no longer want to go to day camps, you want to spend your day with friends, sleep in late and stay out late – feel like you’re an adult. So you spend your time doing teenage things like going to the beach (you can use the railway systems for most beaches in Israel), hanging out in malls and spending all of your time with your friends.


Many teenagers also use their summer vacation to volunteer in their communities, operate day camps for needing families free of charge, renovating homes for people who cannot do it themselves and other meaningful ways to help the community around them.


When you are 14 years old, you can event act more like an adult, spend your summer vacation working in a temporary position, and earn some money to spend during the summer (kids under 15 can’t work during the school year). There are very strict rules for employing young teenagers during summer vacation and very hefty fines to those who break those rules.


Once you are out of school, at 18, you have one of two options – you either are drafted early and don’t have any summer vacation left, of you get drafted later and get to enjoy one last summer vacation. Of course, pre-army Israelis usually work to save up some money to use during the army service (or go on vacation before the draft), but usually pre-army teens work jobs that have shifts and are naturally temporary (waitressing, cashiers etc.). They are unlikely to find a full time job where you will earn a decent salary before your draft, because you will leave, and it probably won’t take long before you do.

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So how to pre-army (and really, post-army and pre-university) Israelis do all summer long?

Between shifts, you will probably find most of them at the beach, cooling off in those hot summer days. When the heat gets too much, and the beach doesn’t cut it – you will probably find them at malls with their friends in the cool air-conditioning.

When you are older, after the army and even during university years, things change a bit. You probably will not go on to the same school as your best friends or even friends from the army, so summer vacation (also known in Israeli academic “exams”) will probably be spent meeting friends around the country, working to help pay for the next school year, and volunteering. Yes, many students that do their B.A in social sciences spend a lot of their time volunteering as a requirement for an M.A in their perspective fields, so when there are no classes it is the perfect time to put the hours you need and get a recommendation. In addition, it is a good way to experience the field you are interested in without harming your schoolwork.

What about Israeli that actually have a summer vacation after university?

Well this doesn’t happen a lot since work places don’t give you time off for the summer (wouldn’t that be amazing?)

However, in the rare occasion that it happens – we go to the beach, as much as we can and meet friends we haven’t met in a while.


For those of you who have summer vacation, I hope you have a great one, and for those of you who don’t – take advantage of those weekend!

Want to hear more about Israeli summer?

Want to come visit me at the Tel Aviv Beach?

Contact me at

See you in August!


The Jezreel Valley Railway

The Jezreel Valley railway or the Valley Train is a railroad that existed in Ottoman and British Palestine, as well as a modern railway in Israel built in the 21st century. It runs from the Mediterranean coast inland along the length of the Jezreel Valley. The historical line was a segment of the longer Haifa–Dera’a line, which was itself a branch of the larger Hejaz railway.

Locomotive built by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works employed by the Valley Train, 1946

The historical Haifa–Dera’a line was built at the beginning of the 20th century and connected the Port of Haifa with the main part of the Hejaz railway, the Damascus–Medina line. The last stop of the Haifa–Dera’a line within the Mandate Palestine borders was at al-Hamma, today Hamat Gader. Planning and construction took four years. The railway was inaugurated on October 15, 1905 and regular services operated on it until 1948.


Map (not to scale) of the historical line – original stations marked by full black circles.

Despite several renewal attempts, the line lay dismantled for decades until 2011 when construction started on a large-scale project to build a new standard gauge railway from Haifa to Beit She’an along roughly the same route as the historic valley railway. Israel Railways began passenger service on the new valley railway on 16 October 2016.


The New Valley Train – Brige in Kiryat Harishet

The first attempts to renew the historic valley line were made in the 1950s, when the possibility of converting the railway to standard gauge was examined. On June 13, 1962, talks were held between the CEO of Israel Railways Menachem Savidor and head of the Afula local council Yoash Dubnov. Savidor declared that if Afula and its suburbs could guarantee a concentration of 400–500,000 tons of freight to be moved on the railway, the project would be financially viable, and Israel Railways would support it. The plan failed. However, the land was owned by Israel Railways and not approved for building. Some municipalities turned the area of the railway lines into public parks with a billboard or monument commemorating the Jezreel Valley railway. In spite of this, the Ramat David Airbase was expanded onto a major portion of the historical line’s alignment.


Park on the railway line in Afula, 2006

Although the atmosphere remained optimistic over the years as proposals for the railway’s revival were raised, and some Israeli railway maps even labeled the line as ‘under construction’, actual work did not commence on the valley railway (besides preliminary design work and right-of-way purchases). Then on February 24, 2010 the Israeli government voted to appropriate the sum of NIS 3.5 billion (later raised to 4.1 billion, equivalent to about US$1.15 billion in 2011 dollars) for the detailed design and construction of the railway between Haifa and Beit Shea’an beginning in 2011. The railway was constructed as single-track but with significant provisioning for double-tracking and electrification in a future follow-up project. It terminates in Beit Shea’an, with the extension to the border crossing at the Sheikh Hussein bridge, which will require significant tunneling and bridging, being planned for a later stage. The renewed Valley Railway opened for passenger service on 16 October 2016 following several years of extensive construction activities.

Beit She’an new Railway Station

When originally built in the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottomans had the advantage of constructing the railway in what was then a relatively sparsely populated area and as such had the benefit of being able to lay the railway on the most topographically convenient route between Haifa and Beit She’an. The renewed railway’s route however had to contend with the significant population, which settled in the area since, a complex set of existing infrastructure built up over the years, strict environmental considerations, and the wish to preserve as much open space as possible along the route. Therefore, the new route was in places considerably more difficult to construct and in some spots is less direct than the original alignment.


National Road Authority map depicting the renewed Jezreel Valley Railway’s route.

Want to learn more about the Jezreel Vally Railway?

Contact me at

Until next time…


Blood donations in Israel

Medical advances has brought Israel to make a historic decision! Starting this June the Magen David Adom (MADA) Central Blood Bank is allowing men from the LGBT+ community and people from African countries, especially Ethiopians in Israel, donate blood. This is a precedent in Israel’s medical history. The new machinery is the best in its field and allows MADA to screen blood units for type 1+ HIV, type 1+2 HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis!


Up until recently, Ethiopian Jews were not able to donate blood in Israel. The reason for that was that Ethiopia has a higher percentage of HIV infections and medicine was not common in the Jewish refugee camps in Ethiopia. There was an uproar within the Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the community came together in protest and worked to get that decision changed. The policy in Israel was that no one who was in most African countries and some areas in East Asia in the year before them donating blood could donate blood in fear of contracting one of the diseases mentioned above. In addition, men from the LGBT+ community could not have donate blood if they declare they did not have sexual relations in the previous year.

The new test that are now available to the Central Blood Bank allow technicians to screen for HIV residue in the blood sample that accompanies the blood unit, faster than before.

Another improvement is that now there is no age limit on donating blood. People who wish to donate blood over the age of 65 need to bring a doctor’s approval that the donation will not be life threatening.

How does blood services in Israel work?

It is very simple; you can donate blood everywhere you go, literally. MADA operates special blood donation ambulances that you can find everywhere in Israel, in malls, community centers, even army bases, it take up to 30 minutes to donate and it’s easy to do so in the middle of your day.

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In order to teach teenagers about the importance of blood donations MADA sends out volunteers to high schools to teach the senior class about blood donations in Israel, after the class the school is arranging an awareness day where MADA sends out local volunteers and they set up in a central classroom for all the senior class to donate blood.

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Why is it important to donate blood?

Blood donations are extremely important in the day-to-day work of a hospital. Every patient that goes into the hospital for a procedure (even labor) has his blood tested and at least two units of blood are being prepared in case of emergency. Not only that, but in case of security threats like military operations and wars the hospital that is closest to the area where the tension is highest received more blood units then usual from the central blood bank of Israel.

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Soroka Hospital’s Blood bank

The most commonly used blood in times of emergency is O-, which is also one of the rarest blood types (along with all negative Rh: A-, B- and AB-) that’s why if you know you are an O- you should donate blood as much as you can (4 times a year is the limit in Israel).

Every person that donates blood In Israel and their closest family members (partners, parents and brothers) receive a yearly “Blood insurance”, meaning, if they need to go through an operation or any procedure that might require them receiving blood units, they will receive all the supply they need. If you do not have such an insurance, you need to find a way to have spare blood units in case you need them.

Want to learn more about blood donations in Israel?

Contact me at

Until next time…



Tel Aviv Pride!

Tel Aviv Pride is an annual, weeklong series of events in Tel Aviv that celebrate Israel’s LGBT community life, scheduled during the second week of June, as part of the international observance of Gay Pride Month. The most-attended event is the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, which is the largest in Asia.


Tel Aviv City Hall lights up in honor of Tel Aviv Pride.

The first event that many consider the first ‘Pride’ event to take place in Israel was a protest in 1979 at Rabin Square. The event more closely associated with Tel Aviv Pride, as it is known today was the Tel Aviv Love Parade in 1997.


Street in Tel Aviv are full of people attending the parade.

The parade assembles and begins at Meir Park, then travels along Bugrashov Street, Ben Yehuda Street and Ben Gurion Boulevard, and culminates in a party in Charles Clore Park on the seafront. The parade is the biggest pride celebration in continental Asia, drawing more than 100,000 people in 2011 alone, approximately 5,000 of them tourists. Tel Aviv was the first location in Israel where “gay” events were organised and also the first city in Israel to host a gay pride parade. There were 200,000 participants reported in 2016, making it one of the largest in the world.


In the early years of the Pride Parade, the majority of participants were politically motivated. Later on, as the Parade grew, people who took part came with the notion that the Parade should focus on LGBT rights, equality and equal representation, and should not be used as a stage for radical politics, which are not accepted by most of the Parade’s participants. Gradually, the Parade came to be less political due to the scale and diversity of participation. In recent years, the Parade’s reputation for inclusiveness, along with Tel Aviv’s world-class status as a gay-friendly destination and a top party city, has attracted more than 100,000 participants, many of them from around the world.


This year’s Tel Aviv Pride Parade is June 9th, so if you are in Tel Aviv you should definitely check it out! However, as in all mass events – be careful!

Want to learn more about Tel Aviv Pride?

Contact me at

Until next time…


Happy Shavuot!

Ahh Shavuot, one of the three holidays Jews go to Jerusalem, bring their first harvests and celebrating the day God gave us the Torah.

A young Jewish boy seen holding a Torah scrool as he poses for a picture in a wheat field, prior to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. May 05, 2013. Photo by Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** ñôø úåøä éìã ãúé ùáåòåú

Israeli Children are going to kindergarten and schools with baskets of Fruits (Bikurim) dresses in white with flowers on their heads to celebrate the holiday.


There are festivals celebrating the agriculture in Israel and Shavuot ceremonies in most Kibbutzs in Israel, where everyone are invited to join and celebrate this great holiday.

This holiday has so many different meanings and significant in Jewish history. However, today we are going to discuss the unknown and probably most fun part of this holiday as celebrated in Israel:
The Holiday of Water!
Yes you have heard right! The tradition started with the Jewish community of North Africa that used to throw water at the people praying on Shavuot. The tradition was adopted by Israelis all over the country and every year in Shavuot Children of all ages go out to the streets and throw water on one another.

Since Israel has a water crisis, Children are encouraged to fill their water balloons and toy pistols from fountains all over the city (recycled water).

Tel Aviv loves this tradition so much that they have decided to have a yearly Water-War! It doesn’t take place on Shavuot it takes place on the first Friday of July (when everyone is out of school and can participate).

Want to learn more about Shavuot?
Email me at
Until Next time…

Trump’s visit to Israel

As you know the Detroit Birthright Community trip just got back from Israel, we had a blast and shared some special moments!

But the Detroit Community Birthright trip are not the only people to visit the holy land!

President Trump and his family also stopped by! Look at these pictures from their trip.


They went to visit the Western Wall and have a special moment




They enjoyed a special dinner by one of the best chefs in Israel, and a performance by a famous Israeli singer



They went to Yad VaShem as well



Melania shared a special moment With Necham Rivlin, Israel’s President’s wife, who gave her a book for her son Barron.



After almost 28 hours the President and his wife left Israel to their next destination

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