Grapevine: Help is here

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 FLEUR HASSAN-NAHOUM speaks at a protest in Jerusalem’s Safra Square against construction in the Rehes Lavan (White Ridge) nature reserve. (photo credit: Courtesy Fleur Hassan-Nahoum)
FLEUR HASSAN-NAHOUM speaks at a protest in Jerusalem’s Safra Square against construction in the Rehes Lavan (White Ridge) nature reserve.
(photo credit: Courtesy Fleur Hassan-Nahoum)

Every country has its own culture and its own ways of doing things. It’s often difficult for new immigrants to put aside common practices of the old country and learn to think like Israelis.

Help is on the way via the second Jerusalem Business Conference, a joint venture between the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) and Nefesh B’Nefesh. The conference will be held at the Nefesh B’Nefesh campus in Cinema City, which is easily accessible by public transportation.

The date is Tuesday, September 5, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The topic is “Navigate Your Business: Strategies & Trends for Success in the New Year.”

Keynote speakers will be Michael Oren – historian, diplomat, politician, and former lone soldier; Jonathan Medved – serial venture capitalist, founder and CEO of OurCrowd; Fleur Hassan-Nahoum – Jerusalem deputy mayor; and a host of other speakers, all of them former immigrants, all of them success stories.

The event includes breakout sessions; round table networking; panel discussion; business card station; lunch plus refreshments throughout the day; a $500 travel raffle prize; and a swag bag and treats provided by the sponsors of the conference 


Cost for participation is NIS 149 for online registration and NIS 199 for registration at the door, space permitting.

Online registration closes at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 3.

Everyone is excited for the Tel Aviv light rail

■ THE BIG news event covered by Israeli media for several consecutive days last week and this week was the launch, after a long delay, of the Red Line in Tel Aviv’s planned light rail network. Jerusalem has had a light rail network since 2011, as former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert smugly reminded KAN 11 television viewers. Of course, that did not deter Jerusalem train and tram enthusiasts from traveling to Tel Aviv last Friday to try out the Tel Aviv version for themselves.

Led by Steve Sattler, who heads the Trains and Tram Society of Israel, a group of members gathered at the Navon Railway Station in the early morning and took the train to Tel Aviv’s Savidor Station .

After some geographic confusion on arrival, they found their way to the Arlosoroff Street underground light rail station, where they had a choice of elevators or escalators to the platforms. The rides were free on Friday – but not anymore. The Jerusalemites chose the light rail heading south to Jaffa, then rode back to Elifelet, and then Allenby, where they alighted and had ice cream.

After that, they boarded the light rail to Bat Yam, which, according to Sattler, is a long journey about 7/8 above ground to Komemiyut, deep in Bat Yam suburbia, 17 stops south from Allenby. The light rail stops at every station from 1 to 3 minutes. At the final station, the group decided to return to Arlosoroff, and headed north. Needless to say, the vehicle was very full with locals and people from out of town. The driver was a female, and very cool and collected.

It just so happened that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was traveling in the same carriage as the Jerusalemites, and they all met him and members of his senior staff. He was among the passengers who were standing.

At Arlosoroff, the Jerusalemites headed for the train platform, somehow getting past the demonstrators, and were able to make it home well in time for Shabbat.

This week, Sattler had a chat with one of the engineers on the north extension of the L1 Jerusalem Light Rail. The estimate is that it will be ready in three months, after which the city council will decide on an opening date.

This same L1 line will eventually serve all of Neveh Ya’acov, including Kaminetz, and also as a connecting line to the airport.

The south extension to the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem will take longer. And, of course, for much of next year there will chaos in Emek Refaim and environs, unless by some miracle the light rail through Emek Refaim will be scrapped at the last minute.

Shabbat transportation battle rages on

■ IN TEL Aviv, widely recognized as the most liberal and cosmopolitan city in the country, a battle is raging over running the light rail on Shabbat. So far, the secularists have been defeated, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way.

In Jerusalem, the religious members of the city council, who are in the vast majority, are trying to stop the Shabbat bus to Tel Aviv. Letters to members of Knesset and the municipality’s legal counsel, Adi Schwartz, are unlikely to achieve much because the service, which is a Hitorerut initiative, is free and not part of the regular public transportation network.

If taxis, tour buses and private cars can operate on Shabbat, why not trains and the light rail?

Training high schoolers to be ambassadors

■ SEVERAL ORGANIZATIONS and institutions are training high school students to become ambassadors for Israel. They may not become diplomats in the formal sense – though some undoubtedly will be – but if they embark on careers that frequently take them abroad, they have to be equipped with accurate information about many aspects of the country so that they can promote the positive and find a way to get around the negative.

In 2010, serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Elie Wurtman founded PICO Kids with the aim of engaging Jerusalem’s youth in STEEM (science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship, math) education through hands-on, values-based learning.

The PICO Kids take on the role of junior ambassadors, traveling in groups to meet their peers in other countries.

Last month, a group of 15 youngsters from Jerusalem embarked on a transformative journey to Tanzania as part of the PICO Kids Ambassadors program, which was held in collaboration with the Deanery Primary School in Tanzania’s Arusha region.

This was the 10th such delegation, delegations which collectively have included 170 Jerusalem youth traveling to destinations that include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Bahrain. The trip to Tanzania was supported by fellow serial entrepreneur Allon Bloch.

The two hi-tech executives have partnered on a number of ventures over the past two decades.

The PICO Ambassadors program focuses on challenges related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The group that visited Tanzania collaborated with local students to create a farming system to benefit the local school. The project was carried out in collaboration with local agronomists and a representative from MASHAV, the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

The idea was to educate students about sustainable agriculture that utilizes natural resources for the betterment of local communities while limiting their ecological footprint.