Encouraging Arab entrepreneurs

Peres son creates environment for Arab startups

Gershon Baskin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Gershon Baskin
PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES frequently talks about the potential benefits to the economy if a significant percentage of the trained Arab workforce were to be absorbed into Israel’s hi-tech industries, or alternately set up such industries of their own.
To encourage Arabs to put their hi-tech knowledge to use, his son, Chemi Peres , a managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango Venture Capital, along with Jerusalem Venture Partners and Imad Telhami, an entrepreneur from Israel’s Arab community, have joined forces to create an Arabic language technology incubator for startups geared to attracting local Arab entrepreneurs, to be located in the north. It will provide training and physical facilities and will also fund innovative start-ups.
The idea has been simmering for well over a year, and was initially hatched with former venture capitalist Erel Margalit before he became a Knesset member. JVP, the company that he founded, is nonetheless going ahead with the project.
JERUSALEM POST columnist Gershon Baskin has written in the paper about his involvement in negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit, who spent five years in captivity after he was kidnapped by Hamas while serving in the IDF. Baskin has since written a book on the subject titled The Negotiator – Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas.
The book will be launched at the American Colony Hotel on Monday, February 3. Baskin will also use the occasion to discuss whether there is room for dialogue between Israel and Hamas; why prisoners are the political currency of the conflict; lessons to be learned from the freeing of Schalit; and what the future holds for Palestinian prisoners.
FREQUENTLY MENTIONED in this column is Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg , who together with his wife runs Chabad of Rechavia. The reason he gets mentioned so often is because he is an incredible multi-task achiever. Born in Canada, he came to Israel a little over three-and-a-half years ago after working in Chabad facilities in the US, where he was primarily engaged in outreach activities.
He set up Chabad of Rechavia in the Rehavia Windmill, and the premises quickly proved to be too small. Goldberg made a good impression on Asher Schapiro the chairman of the board of the nearby Great Synagogue, who allows him to use its basement for their Shabbat services, followed by a kiddush, often with an important guest speaker.
Throughout the week, there are separate classes for men and women at the Windmill, and for Purim last year, Goldberg persuaded most of the kosher eateries in the neighborhood to have megilla readings at staggered times. Every participating eatery was full to overflowing, and proprietors discovered that religion can be good for business, because many of those who came to hear the megilla stayed on and bought coffee and cake or brunch.
This Purim the readings will spread even further afield, due to the enormous success of last year’s Purim campaign. The Goldbergs have six very young children, which may be one of the reasons that their efforts to reopen the Chabad kindergarten have succeeded. Its director, Shoshi Goldberg , has also started a Chabad of Rechavia Women’s Group.
The kindergarten for boys and girls will have classes for three-year-olds, and more advanced classes for four- to five-year-olds. Each child will receive warm, loving, individual attention, a healthy breakfast and a hot lunch; speech therapy, indoor- and-outdoor development of mind and body and access to playgrounds. There will also be nap time for the children and “Mommy and Me” classes. The children will be encouraged to join in rhythmic classes, drama, arts and crafts and cooking.
TWO RABBIS will be the guest speakers at the general meeting of the Tamar Chapter of Hadassah held at Beit Frankfurter on February 17. They are Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz , born and raised in Montreal, and France-born Rabbi Valerie Stessin .
Berkowitz was ordained by the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and Stessin was the first woman to be ordained by the Masorti Movement in Israel, in 1993.
The rabbis have been friends since 2001 and are the founders of Kashuvot, a non-profit organization launched in Jerusalem in 2010 to introduce pastoral care and spiritual support in healthcare and social services. Both women have been professionally trained for this role and have had considerable experience.
AMONG THE runners in the Jerusalem marathon on March 21 will be 37-year-old Erika Lange , a mother of five and a cancer survivor who will be running on behalf of Tishkofet, Life’s Door and wants others to run with her. Lange, who participated in last year’s marathon, says that running reminds her not only that she’s alive and well and breathing, and sweating, but also that she’s on earth to enjoy the many gifts of the Supreme Creator.
Tishkofet is dedicated to bringing hope and meaning to seriously ill people and their families. Its programs include self-defense courses for women; music and movement workshops for Israeli and Palestinian women coping with cancer; individual and family therapy, spiritual care, holistic pulsing and yoga. The organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner at The Avenue in Airport City on March 2. Featured entertainers will be stand- up comedian Tzvika Hadar and singer Miki Gavrielov.
THERE WAS a huge turnout at the milestone birthday party that businessman Oved Mor organized at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for his wife, Simi Mor , who was celebrating her 60th birthday.
A former chairperson of WIZO Jerusalem, and until recently holder of the municipality’s tourism portfolio, Mor was also the director of the Israel Association for the Prevention of Smoking, the WIZO representative on the Knesset Committee for the advancement of the status of women and a board member of WIZO Israel and World WIZO. In addition to members of her family, guests included Mimi Kanfu , Yona Steinitz , Avi Hasson , past and present members of the Jerusalem City Council, former MK Rachel Adato , Sima Zini , the CEO of Beit Frankfurter, Rabbanit Hadassah Ralbag who is the mother-in-law of the Ashkenazi chief rabbi; Vered Swed , who heads the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office; Leah Aharonov , past president of the International Council of Jewish Women; Miriam Bonfil, former chairwoman of Naamat Jerusalem; lawyer and international jurist Etya Simcha ; restaurateur Simi Tobul and his wife Ronit , and World WIZO Honorary President Helena Glazer – who noted that Simi Mor had served the people of Jerusalem in a voluntary capacity for more than 30 years