The Technion is the Envy of the World
Shalom Life speaks with Hershel Recht of the Canadian Technion Society
The Technion is more than just Israel’s preeminent institute of technology.
It is the backbone of the world renowned tech sector that has helped the Jewish State maintain its technological edge since its founding, with a lengthy track record of unparalleled scientific breakthroughs.
The institute has a well-deserved worldwide reputation for its work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, aerospace engineering and medicine.
“The Technion is at the forefront of almost every single research and development breakthrough that the State of Israel has ever founded,” said Hershel Recht, the National Director of Development for the Canadian Technion Society. “Not only that, if you look at the numbers just by graduates, the Technion has a disproportionate amount of graduates who are now the leaders of Israel’s high tech industry.”
Recht noted that 80 per cent of high tech firms in Israel are led by Technion grads.
The Technion is helping the world on a daily basis, Recht added. “Technion is a city that doesn’t sleep. Research is going on all the time. These are the people who are the best and the brightest.”
The school’s impressive record and influence goes far beyond Israel, reaching into almost every sphere of modern technology and medicine. If you’ve used the Internet, then you have used the international standard data compression that was developed at the Technion. The first two Israeli Nobel Prize winners (Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko for chemistry in 2004) were from the Technion. Dr. Karl Skorecki, the Canadian nephrologist who mapped the Cohanim gene, is the school’s director of Nephrology and Molecular Medicine.
“He proved that all Cohanim have a similar gene, there’s no way to explain it,” said Recht. “That’s what we’re trying to get out to people. Other organizations are very important, but do you know what’s going on at the Technion on a daily basis? It just blows you away.”
Founded in 1924, the Technion currently has 13,000 students, 18 academic departments, 53 undergraduate programs and 77 graduate programs. Since its founding, over 90,000 degrees have been bestowed.
The Canadian Technion Society has had some very successful years lately, with Seymour Schulich and Peter Monk giving large gifts that are among the largest donations to a Canadian Jewish charity in recent years.
The mandate of the organization is twofold: First, to encourage Canadian students to continue their medical and technological education at the Technion. Second, to raise badly needed funds.
This year, the big focus is on several issues:
Technion’s nanotechnology program needs support.
They are raising funds for “Striking a Balance,” a program aimed at helping Orthodox and National Religious students that do not have a strong science education background study at the Technion. These students go through an “intensive training process” before studying going to the university. “One of our big fundraising opportunities this year is to ask donours to support these young people who don’t have the money to go through these things and need scholarships.”
Money needs to be raised for graduate scholarships. “In order for Israel to maintain its stability and its edge in technological research, graduate students need to be supported.”
The Canadian Technion Society is also currently launching a new youth initiative called Generation Next.
“If the next generation doesn’t get involved in donating and being active in the cause, that money and support is going to dry up,” said Recht.
They will be hosting Generation Next events to allow young people to learn more about the Technion and all that it has done for Israel and the world. The program will culminate with a trip to Israel to “learn about what the Technion is doing and to understand its reach.”
When students first hear about the Technion’s accomplishments, they are taken aback, Recht explained. “Put down that cell phone because that cell phone was created in Israel. Don’t use that lap top because that Intel Pentium processor chip was made in Kiryat Gat.”
Astonishingly, the American Technion Society has raised $1 billion over the last 10 years – an “unheard of” amount, said Recht, that is miles above and beyond what any other Jewish charity in North America has ever raised in a decade.
“Technion is the envy of many of the world’s technological institutions,” said Recht. “It is on par with Cal Tech and MIT. And there’s many professors constantly going back and forth, doing collaborative research.”
To find out how to help, go to http://www.cdntech.org/