Jerusalem, Israel - Feb. 4, 2019 - The Israeli Defense Force has its famous Unit 8200, an elite signals intelligence unit, known for its excellence in developing technologies and producing future leaders in technology and hi-tech.
At the end of November, a new Jewish youth engagement organization Carmel 6000 was selected to present to the Government Press Office sponsored conference of international Jewish journalists and social media bloggers, the Jewish New Media Summit, held in Jerusalem, Israel.
Carmel 6000, in partnership with AMIT, is a model volunteer program promoting civilian service and technological training for populations that are usually under-represented, including religious young women, and Arab and Druze citizens. Young people who do not want to serve in the army can do Sherut Leumi, national volunteer service, instead. Carmel 6000, founded by Yossi Tsuria, a leading Israeli tech entrepreneur with a passion to make Israel the world leader in social tech as well as in cyber security, is a new and impressive option.
Located in the Hi-Tech Center in Har Hotzvim, the program was launched in August 2018 after a pilot program in 2017. An exceptional group of 27 young women, selected out of over 150 applicants who successfully completed the highest level graduation exams, bagrut, are now in the first class. The class is divided into teams and trained to develop innovative applications and solutions for disadvantaged populations and social organizations.
The Projects completed include an interactive map developed for Yad Vashem and reverse sensors for wheelchairs at ALYN Hospital.
An app created by Carmel 6000 for Beit Issie Shapiro offers the opportunity to play the traditional Hanukkah game of dreidel to all players regardless of their physical challenges. Dreidelit, is available for free on Google Play.
As with lone soldiers, it is possible to volunteer in Israel from overseas in the Bnot Sherut Program. Avital Weisinger from Teaneck, NJ, participated in the Carmel 6000 pilot program as a bat sherut. Weisinger had studied programing at the Bruriah School in New Jersey before doing her gap year in Israel. She made aliyah, and is now involved for a second year with Carmel 6000, as a mentor and with social media on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Her blogs "Adventures of Avital" published on Medium, attracted a young woman from France to also join the program. "Women of the Week" highlighting successful women in STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is another one of her projects.
Working with organizations in the areas of welfare, education and health, teams develop social tech solutions and innovative applications, which aim to have social impact with a measurable business model and economic feasibility.
Along with AMIT, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Jerusalem Development Authority are supporting Carmel 6000.
Weisinger led BJL on a tour of the Carmel 6000 brightly lit and well-equipped office and classroom space. Along with computer equipment and the wheelchair adapted with sensors, there are a variety of tools, including a 3D printer available for use.
Being a Bat Sherut, a volunteer away from home in the US, is not easy. The girls share an apartment in Bayit Vegan, but most of the girls are Israeli and can travel home much more easily and frequently. When asked for a statement, Avital Weisinger responded: "I came to Israel to fully develop my Jewish identity and find my place among the Jewish people in our homeland. Carmel 6000 is helping me develop my talents to make a positive impact on society and help our people be a light onto the nations. I am proud and honored to be a part of this initiative."
Avital Bayer, International Director of Carmel 6000, is working on expanding the program to reach disadvantaged minorities in Botswana, Argentina, and Australia. With international partners, the aim is to take the concept of developing social hi-tech to the nations of the world.
By educating talented young women doing their national service in STEM, Carmel 6000 could have an impact in the future similar to the secretive IDF 8200.
Society, hi-tech and tikun olam, starting in Jerusalem, Carmel 6000, a beam of light.