Posts Tagged ‘Silicon Valley’

Anti-Semitic Incidents Disrupt Silicon Valley Jewish Community

June 10, 2014

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Congregation Kol Emeth’s Rabbi Laurie Matzkin wants to address an uptick in anti-Semitism encountered by Silicon Valley’s Jewish students. (Courtesy)

Congregation Kol Emeth’s Rabbi Laurie Matzkin wants to address an uptick in anti-Semitism encountered by Silicon Valley’s Jewish students. (Courtesy)

The publication of a slight against a Jewish student in a Cupertino, California high school yearbook has brought to light what some see as an uptick in anti-Semitism among Silicon Valley youth

A student planted an insult against a student from a Jewish Israeli family in a caption beneath a team photo in the Monta Vista High School yearbook. The student’s changing the last three letters of the Israeli classmate’s name to “jew” went unnoticed by the yearbook advisor.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the school has not acquiesced to the Jewish family’s request that the run of 1,600 yearbooks be recalled, claiming that it is too late now that they have been distributed to students and have been filled with handwritten messages from friends and classmates. The Fremont Union High School District paid $64,000 to produce the yearbooks, and they were sold to students at $90 a piece.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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Silicon Valley to Silicon Wadi, Direct?

February 13, 2014

This piece first appeared in The Times of Israel.

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PALO ALTO — Israelis living in Silicon Valley are fed up with the long, exhausting indirect flights to Tel Aviv from San Francisco, and they don’t want to take them any more

A group of prominent Bay Area Israeli entrepreneurs, including Waze CEO Noam Bardin, are trying to convince airlines that it is worth their while to start a 14 ½-hour-long non-stop route linking Silicon Valley and Silicon Wadi. The group has started a petition, which has been signed since early January by some 6,500 people who agree there has to be a better way.

“It takes about 24 hours door-to-door right now,” Adi Bittan, a member of the group, tells The Times of Israel about current indirect flights, which typically involved a long layover in Europe or a harried (and sometimes missed) connection in New York. El Al flies non-stop to Tel Aviv from Los Angeles, but Bay Area residents still need to fly down to LAX to make that flight.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Go West, Young Techies

June 13, 2013

This article was originally published as the cover story of the June 14, 2013 issue of JWeekly.

1_coverA dozen and a half young Israelis in their 20s and 30s live together in a big house in Menlo Park. They go grocery shopping and cook dinner together. The bathrooms are shared. This might sound like a bunch of college students trying to save on rent, or the cast of a new season of the “Big Brother” reality TV show. But it’s neither.

These young people are some of Israel’s top young entrepreneurs, and they are in Silicon Valley to take part in a program run by UpWest Labs.

Begun in January 2012 by a group of seasoned Israeli-American high-tech leaders, UpWest Labs is an accelerator that brings teams from early-stage Israeli startups to Palo Alto for an intensive, three-month experience meant to expose them to the U.S. market and help them move their companies to the next level.

“It’s about accelerating the time to market for these companies’ products, and about leveling the playing field for Israeli startups,” said Shuly Galili, who used to lead the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, and now runs UpWest Labs with partners Gil Ben-Artzy, a former Yahoo vice president, angel investor Liron Petrushka and operations expert Yael Winer.

“Israelis are strong on technological research and development,” Galili added, “but they don’t usually have good access to the main market for their products — the U.S. — nor do they have the required connections to U.S. funders.”

Whereas young Israelis a generation ago went to Los Angeles in search of entry-level jobs in the entertainment business, or to New York to work for moving companies or in electronics stores, now they flock to the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley and Manhattan’s Silicon Alley as founders of high-tech startups.

UpWest Labs team members (from left) Liron Petrushka, Yael Winer, Shuly Galili and Gil Ben-Artzy photo/maki oshiro

UpWest Labs team members (from left) Liron Petrushka, Yael Winer, Shuly Galili and Gil Ben-Artzy photo/maki oshiro

Thanks to the excellent computer coding skills young Israelis gain in the army and in top-notch engineering programs at the country’s universities, as well as a can-do Israeli attitude, it is not surprising that Tel Aviv is often tabbed the No. 2 high-tech area in the world; with some 700 startups, it is second only to Silicon Valley in startups per capita.

But operating in Tel Aviv’s Silicon Wadi is not enough.

Better-known Israeli Internet companies have shifted some if not all of their operations to the United States. Waze, a mobile mapping company that uses crowdsourcing (contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community) to supply real-time traffic information, is now headquartered in Palo Alto. Waze has been all over the tech news in recent days, after being courted by Google, Apple and Facebook. Google beat out the others and acquired the company this week for a reported $1.1 billion.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.