Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tu B'Shvat - The New Year for Trees

This week many of the supermarkets in Israel have special food displays with packaged dried fruit. What is the occasion ?

This Saturday (Shabbat), February 3, is Tu B'Shvat - The New Year for Trees. This Jewish mini-holiday is of major importance to our appreciation of nature and our relationship to it. It is customary to plant trees and partake of the fruits of the land of Israel to mark the occasion. This year Tu B'Shvat falls on Shabbat - therefore many of the holiday activities this year will take place on Thursday, February 1.

When I was a kid back in the 60's in the USA, I remember going door to door collecting money for the Jewish National Fund to plant trees in Israel. Today I can travel all over Israel and see the actual trees. There is something very special about celebrating Jewish holidays in Israel.

For those that are interested in learning more, I have collected a list of 55 websites that have information and activities relating to Tu'Bshvat. The address is:

Have a Happy Jewish Arbor Day!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Telecommunications in Israel

Today I am launching a new website called: Learn English
Eight people living all over Israel (and myself) worked on the development of the website. The programmer lives in Haifa and the translators live in Rechovot, Bet Shemesh, Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. The reader lives in Jerusalem and the sound studio is in Jerusalem. I did not have to meet anyone during the whole project. All the work was done via telephone and email. Before the summer I launched two other sites (Learn Hebrew and Learn Spanish) and the development was also directed from my home in Ma'aleh Adumim. In fact, I never met the programmer and some of the translators in person. I paid them via check or direct transfer to their banks.

Over the past several years working from home in Israel has become an option for many people working in the computer field including programmers, technical writers, grahic artists and other IT positions. However, it is not just computers. Other professions like sales, marketing, customer support and even the medical fields are jumping into telecommuting. For example, there are licensed radiologists that work here for US hospitals that need extra help on the US night shift. All this could not be done without a good communications infrastructure connecting Israel to the world.

Israel has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world. Last year it was reported that 65% of households surf through fast Internet.There are two ways that most people hookup to fast Internet in Israel: via Bezeq's ADSL service or through the Hot cable company. All Internet providers in Israel support both of these types of connections. Based on feedback from friends, both types of services today are reliable. Most of the problems people sometimes have are usually centered around the Internet Service Provider they choose. I have had the good fortune to be a happy camper with the same ISP for several years now. I also maintain the same cellular company and overseas phone service for the past few years. Every few months I check out the prices of competing companies to see if the market is changing. I have changed plans more then once to get a better deal. Many people do not know about price reductions or specials - you have to ask. If you do not ask, you will not know. Some of the companies are offering package deals including Internet, local phone service and overseas calls. The advent of voice over IP is driving prices down. Israeli communication companies are constantly revising their deals due to competition. Competition is good!!

For those that have not yet visited Israel, you will be glad to know that there are many cities across the country where you can find wi-fi hotspots to surf the Internet from your notebook computer or PDA. I do not have a notebook but I am pretty sure that the wi-fi hookup instructions will be also in English. Now that you can stay connected while you are here, why not spend you next vacation in Israel ? Drop me an email when you get here.
Shavua Tov,
Have a good week,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Israel and Solar Energy

Did you know that an Israeli company created the largest solar energy field in the world ?

Between 1984 and 1990, an Israeli company called Luz, built the world's largest solar energy fields in the Mojave Desert in California. The system created is based on a solar thermal system that heats liquid to very hot temperatures which is then used to make steam that drives a turbine to make electricity. The Luz solar fields continue to operate today and the Israeli company Solel will be upgrading the system with newer technology that will increase the efficiency of Luz's solar fields by up to 50%.

Did you know that back in 1980, Israel made a law requiring every new building to have solar water heaters ?

Today 95% of Israeli households have them, saving between 2% and 3% of the country's electricity needs each year. Israel is still number one in the world in use of solar power to heat its water.

There are several companies in Israel working on energy innovations using the sun as a power source. What is great about power from the sun is that it does not pollute and after the initial cost of the equipment, the ongoing costs are very low compared to fossil fuels. Some people may ask what do you do at night ? First, most of the heavy electric usage is during the day when the sun shines. Secondly, I believe that the recent advances in battery technology will eventually allow commercial and home users the abiliy to store the power generated during the day and use this power at night. In fact, when the battery technology improves, the chances are very good that electric vehicles (using batteries and electric motors instead of gas engines) will become more common and economical. Some people even say that besides running your car, the batteries will be able to be a backup for your home electricity use if there is a power outage. Sounds great does n't it ? If you would like to read more about adavnces in the energy fields, I have a website with links to all kinds of energy websites and articles at:

Today solar energy is subsidized by governments like Germany and Japan and in many states in the US. Israel has the technology and plenty of sun. As the demand for enery worldwide increases and the price of oil rises, alternative enery will become more popular. During the next few years I believe that it is quite possible that Israeli innovations in the field will bring about the reality of being literally a "light onto the nations". Would n't that be something to smile about ?

Have a good night,

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

SanDisk's 32 Gigabyte Solid-State Drive Designed in Israel

Yesterday, the company SanDisk showcased its newly introduced 32 gigabyte solid-state drive at the Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas. The 1.8-in. drive is designed to replace the hard drive in devices that usually rely on that form factor. The full article on this device that may change the PC mobile market in a big way, is located at:
So what does this have to do with Israel ?
Well, the SanDisk's SSD was engineered by the company's new Israel-based Computing Solutions Division (part of SanDisk's acquisition of M-Systems). This is just one example from hundreds of advanced technology wonders that have been developed in Israel.
When I worked at Intel Electronics in Jerusalem (84-90) I attended meetings (by phone and in person) with many Intel employees from the US. Based on these meetings I gathered that the Intel Israeli design centers and manufacturing centers have very good reputations within Intel and in the industry. Many people do not know that their computers have chips that were either designed or manufactured in Israel. There is no "made in Israel" or "designed in Israel" stamped on the chip. However, the industry knows and many other international companies have picked up on this and followed Intel's lead and setup shop in Israel. Another giant company that has thousands of hi-tech workers in Israel, and produces chips for cellular phones and communication systems, is Motorola. In fact, if I am not mistaken, Motorola was here before Intel. Again, you will probably not find "made in Israel" in the equipment, but people in the indutry know. Back in 2004, I went to a telcommunications show in Tel-Aviv. The Israel Export Institute had a booth and gave out a real cool poster called: Israel Silicon Valley 2004. What was so cool about it ? It showed a map of Israel with logos of large high-tech companies that have key facilities in Israel. Here are two pictures of the map:

I am sure that today you can add many more logos to the map.

Not only is Israel a magnet for attracting large international companies, Israel has the largest number of startups in the world per capita.

Besides computers and communications there are many other fields that Israeli companies have made big advances. One of them is the biomedical sciences. However, this entry is getting too long so that will have to wait for a future posting.

The bottom line is that people all over the world have a hard time finding Israel on the map (so small in physical size that the word "Israel" is usually bigger than the country drawing). However, even though we are small in size on the map, our ingenuity and innovation is spread all over the world. Something to be very proud of.

Have a good night,

Monday, January 8, 2007

About this blog

Hi Everyone!

Thanks to everyone that emailed me with their encouraging comments. Most blogs start with an introduction message. My blog has it as the third posting. I am still learning the ropes.

I have been in Israel since 1984 and I have been actively using the Internet since the early 90's. In 1993 I launched the CJI (Computer Jobs in Israel) report in which I list computer job openings but also some tidbits about life in Israel. I have other lists that I run ranging from pre-holiday resource announcements to updates about my websites. I also get a lot of email. Hundreds a week and sometimes hundreds a day (including spam).

Over the past few months I have been getting and reading more negative things than positive ones. This is one of the reasons that I started this blog.

My plan (b"h) is to post 1-3 items a week that will bring a smile to your face or make you feel good at least for few minutes (and hopefully more). I am open to suggestions but please do not send me publicity or marketing items for this blog. All posting suggestions should include at least 1-2 valid sources that I can verify the information. When you send a suggestion please put: Blog Suggestion in the subject. My email is posted on my website (not posting it here to avoid spam).
I plan to be very selective in what I post so do not take offense if I do not use your suggestion. If it is something nice / interesting, but not for this blog, I may post it at:

I added a feedburner link (includes RSS and Atom) to the bottom right of the blog for those that would like to subscribe to this blog using a blog reader (ie: Google Reader, Yahoo Reader, etc..) . For those unfamiliar with blog readers, these free programs allow you to read updates from various blogs you like (and websites) all in one place. It beats visiting every blog and website to see if there are new postings.

I think that covers everything that I should have mentioned on day one. Until the next posting......
Have a great day,

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Great Book: Moving Up - An Aliyah Journal

Over the past two days, I started and finished a very good book called: Moving Up - An Aliyah Journal written by Laura Ben-David. The book is a collection of emails Laura sent to her relatives and friends describing the aliyah journey of her family.
The humorous stories and inspiring words make the reading very enjoyable and will put a smile on your face.
If you are considering aliyah or have made aliyah or just want to read how one family deals with a new life in a new country, I highly recommend the book.

Details on where you can get the book are available on her website at:


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Pictures of the Aliyah - Klita Fair in Jerusalem

Hi Everyone!
This week I attended an aliyah - klita fair at the Nefesh B'Nefesh
offices in Jerusalem. During the fair, Teudat Zehut cards
(Israeli citizen id cards) were distributed to the olim that
came on the recent aliyah flights from North America and
I posted 95 pictures of the klita fair at:
When the first page appears, press the F11 key
to view the full length of the pictures. To move from page to page,
use the navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen.
Congratulations to the new citizens of Israel.
Have a great day,