I am writing this friday’s website article from Tel Aviv. I came to (a) see my daughters and (b) attend The International Women’s Forum World Cornerstone Conference. Most importantly the girls are great, my two grandchildren adorable and my younger daughter’s identical twin pregnancy is now 28 weeks (but she looks term and is having a tough time).
The conference was amazing. Over 500 women who are members of the IWF came from around the world to participate in panels and discussions on technological breakthroughs that impact the quality and future of our lives. The theme was “Seek, Solve, Soar”. Many of the high tech companies in Israel and indeed throughout the world are now started and managed by women with the hope that more young girls will become interested in STEM so that they can become the future innovators and leaders in this field as well their societal and governmental development.
After an opening reception in Jaffa by the sea with the Peres Canter for Peace (where President Shimon Peres gave an in depth talk) we started the next day with a panel titled, “Israel: Engine of Ingenuity”. One of the panelist was the author of the wonderful book, “Start -up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” (a phenomenal read that helps explain the fact that there are more start-ups per capita in Israel than any place in the world!) Another panel was titled, “Cyber: On the Front Line” and dealt with the issues of cyber security. The panelists included experts from Microsoft, the office of the prime minister of Israel and a special team of The Israeli Defense Force. We then had a panel on water conservation and new high-tech and low tech solutions that have been developed here and now are used widely throughout the world, allowing millions to access clean water and irrigate their crops. I also attended a tour of the Robin Center in the Israel Museum in Tel Aviv and saw a fabulous technologically interactive history of both Israel and the life of Yizhak Rabin. On the last day of the conference we had a panel on space exploration. Dr. Catherine Coleman, who is a NASA astronaut, discussed the goal to reach Mars and the scientific studies currently conducted on the space station. The general manager of the space division of Israeli aerospace industries and a consultant to Israeli’s space program and the National Council for Research and Development were among the eloquent panelists. (They made most of us want to restart our lives in an attempt to explore the cosmos.) Interestingly, Dr. Coleman discussed the rapid progression of osteoporosis, especially in women astronauts and the attempts to use medication, exercise and calcium to prevent this. Finally one of the most interesting panels was titled, “Rethinking Ability: new tech tools for disability and health”. It turns out that many of the features on our iPhones and iPads were developed for those who had audio, visual and manual disabilities. For example the touch ability and microphone and Siri in our phones and iPads came from the need to make it possible for people who cannot type to communicate. Text to voice was first developed for the deaf.
During the final luncheon, Tzipi Livni, the former prime minister of foreign affairs of the State of Israel addressed us with an eloquent discussion on the need for peace in a democratic (we hope) society. This was followed by a panel discussion with three people: (1) an Israeli Arab scientist (who was trained at the Technion who is also the cofounder of a Nazareth based global hi tech company in the field of neuroscience); (2) another Israeli woman (who is the founder and CEO of a water innovation used by millions in Africa); and (3) the founder of Engineers without Borders from the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. That night we also had a celebration dinner with entertainment by some of the best Israeli artists. At the end of the evening all of the women at the conference (many were heads of major companies throughout the world) got up and danced together for hours… it was fabulous. Which just goes to show that achievement doesn’t take away from the joy of dance, something I’ve always believed in…)
I’m not going to go over published medical articles this week – my head is still filled with the information I got at the conference. I do want to let you know that in the weeks to come I will share a letter with you that I have sent to most of my patients. Because I want to spend more time traveling back-and-forth to see my family, I’ve made a decision to close my day to day practice by the end of August. The letters that you may have received by snail mail give all the details. I’ll copy them onto the website in the weeks to come.
A warm shalom from Tel Aviv!