Grapevine: Israeli academics bring the glory

Academic boycotts don’t seem to be holding too much water. Out of 11 foreign associates elected last week to America’s National Academy of Engineering, three were Israelis.

Dan Shechtman 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dan Shechtman 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
 ■ ACADEMIC BOYCOTTS don’t seem to be holding too much water. Out of 11 foreign associates elected last week to America’s National Academy of Engineering, three were Israelis.
The extent to which Israeli academics bring untold honor and glory to Israel is amazing.
Beyond their spheres of scholarship and research, few are known to the wider public, but wherever one turns in the world in major academic circles, the Israelis are there. David Harel, the William Sussman Professor of Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science, was recognized for his invention of state charts and contributions to the logic of programming.
Haifa Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professors Alon Gany and Moshe Shoham were also elected as foreign associates. Gany, who is professor emeritus at the Technion, was recognized for advances in the development of solid propellants for rockets and scramjets. Shoham, who holds the Tamara and Harry Handelsman Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and heads the Technion’s Robotics Laboratory, was recognized for his contributions to robotic technology for image-guided surgery.
The National Academy of Engineering has a total American membership of 2,250, while its foreign associates number 214. According to its website, election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.
Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature, and to the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.
■ NOBEL PRIZE laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman, who hopes to succeed in gathering sufficient MK signatures to enable him to compete in the race for the 10th president of the State of Israel, is already preparing himself for subject matter that has nothing to do with scientific research. This coming Sunday evening, February 16, he will be speaking at the Jabotinsky Museum in Tel Aviv, on social challenges confronting the state. He may find some former MKs in the audience, but it is doubtful that he will find anyone who can endorse his candidature.
■ FEBRUARY 25 has been designated by UNESCO as Commedia dell’Arte Day, worldwide. The idea is to expand knowledge about this unique theatrical genre, which developed in Italy during the Renaissance period and continues to delight audiences all over the world.
In Israel, the day will feature master classes, workshops, exhibition of masks and performances featuring the Scapino Theater Company. Activities for both youth and adults will take place at Hasimta Theater in Tel Aviv. A ticket good for all the events costs NIS 80, for workshop NIS 50, for the performance NIS 50, and for observing the master class NIS 20. The exhibition of masks created by Yehudit Greenspan will be opened at 6:45 p.m. by Idit Frank, director of Hasimta Theater, and Simonetta de Felicis, director of the Italian Cultural Institute and cultural attaché at the Italian Embassy.
■ SEVERAL DRUSE families have relatives living in Syria, and it’s not uncommon for brides to cross the border from one country to the other while wedding guests from each country stand on either side of the fence.
Not only brides cross the border. It’s a well-known fact that in recent months, several hundred Syrians who are victims of the strife in their country have been treated in Israeli hospitals; from this side of the border, quite a number of young men have gone to Damascus to study. One of the reasons for this was revealed last Friday in the weekly broadcast on Israel Radio that Haim Ador anchors from Haifa: Education in Syria is free of charge.
Ador interviewed Druse actor Jabbar Abu Jamal from Majdal Shams, who studied drama at the University of Damascus – where not only is the tuition free, but so is student accommodation.
Ador had been to see a play in which Abu Jamal had performed, and had been sufficiently impressed by the actor’s talent to invite him to appear on his show.
The course for which Abu Jamal wanted to enroll required an audition. He chose to do a Shakespearean soliloquy in Arabic, which the admissions panel approved, but he then had to do a reading of something the panel selected for him.
Each year, only 16 new students are admitted to the course, and Abu Jamal was one of them. He could vouch for the high standards, he said.
■ THE ANNUAL Tel Aviv Marathon will take place on Friday, February 28, when part of the city will be closed to traffic for the entire morning and in the early afternoon. This year’s marathon will for the first time include a charity run, and runners can nominate one of the participating charities and start collecting donations for the cause from relatives, friends, neighbors, business colleagues or university classmates. Some 45 charities are participating.
One of the runners among the anticipated 35,000 will be stage and screen actor Itay Turgeman, who has developed a passion for marathons and last month completed the Galilee marathon, after having run in the Berlin marathon last September.
On the Sunday, Monday and Wednesday prior to the marathon, there will be a marathon expo in Rabin Square from 12 noon on Sunday and 10 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday, lasting till 10 p.m. Runners kits will be available on those days, but will be distributed only to runners who provide photo identification in the form of an ID Card, drivers license, or passport. Booths will display merchandise in the categories of sport and lifestyle products, and refreshments will be available for purchase.
■ IT’S NOT often that a bunch of international brand names are included in fashion shows in Israel, unless the show is being hosted by Factory 54 – which on February 23, will be showing spring/ summer creations by Alexander Wang, Carven, Fred Perry, Joseph, Marc by Marc Jacobs and his higher-priced namesake line, Missoni, Paul Smith, Red Valentino and Valentino, Tory Burch, Versus and Zegna. The show is by invitation only.