Israel Today series kicks off with Inbal Arieli

November 24, 2019

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Inbal Arieli

Inbal Arieli

Inbal Arieli kicked off the 2019–2020 Israel Today series with intrigue and passion for sharing Israel’s secret sauce as to “Why Israel is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Arieli got the chance to share her message with a variety of community members including United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Women’s Cabinet, the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at Kempsville High School, ECPI University’s newly formed Women in Technology group, and UJFT’s Society of Professionals. Arieli concluded her visit with UJFT’s Community Relations Council, Simon Family JCC, and community partners’ Israel Today evening event at the Sandler Family Campus, as part of the Lee & Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival in coordination with the Jewish Book Council.

I heard Arieli talk and after reading her extensive military, academic, and high-tech biography, I was surprised and enamored by her never-met-a-stranger personality and profoundly relatable power point presentation.

Arieli jumped between her own childhood and raising her children, noting throughout that it was merely a slice of common life in Israel. She shined a spotlight on the differences in Israeli children simply playing in an ordinary park like we have down the street. In the image shown though, there was nothing ordinary about the multiple children exploring how many ways they could go up and down a slide. There were no restrictions. No one to say there’s only one way to properly use a slide. Israeli parents typically allow the children to work it out, and they don’t get scolded for finding an alternative way. The concept of being comfortable using their imagination is nurtured as young as Kindergarten.

Learning the commonly used Hebrew phrase, tipesh esre, which refers to the years 12–18, and actually translates in English to “stupid age,” was a favorite moment for many. This, I loved, since three of my four are currently in those stupid years. Yet it are during these years that Israeli teens comprise 67% of the Israeli Red Cross/Magen David Adom (MDA). Like Red Cross organizations across the world, MDA trains nurses, coordinates blood donations, helps the disabled, the needy, and the elderly, and provides ambulance and rescue services. The teens are not doing boring paperwork, they are in the field. Talk about being counted on and contributing to community.

Arieli then took our attention to the young adults who finish school and enter the IDF. This is also unique to Israel, and while she cannot say it would work in other countries, it certainly works in Israel. Interestingly, the key difference in the IDF skill set when compared to other militaries, is they are trained to expect the unexpected. They are trained for the unknown, taught to lead while embracing uncertainty.

This is a critical thinking skill for anything in life and it was very easy to see how it truly is a recipe for innovation.

The discussion was fascinating and was confirmation in the way I am raising my four kids. In fact, I often answer people’s, “How are you? How are the kids?” with the same answer, “We are good… Every day is new!” And boy, that is my truth! It may be more work at times, and it is definitely more messy, but planting the seeds of curiosity is invaluable.

I so appreciated Arieli’s passion—her chutzpah (love the title of her new book) and her message challenging all to consider raising children with more opportunities for uncertainty, responsibility, and freedom of imagination.

Now in its ninth year, Israel Today is a year-long offering of scholarly and cultural events celebrating Israel, its people, their stories, and the Jewish community’s shared future. The program is made possible through the support of numerous community partners and friends.

Please join me on December 9 to hear Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post’s editor in chief, at the Sandler Family Campus. See page 33. For more information on Katz and other upcoming Israel Today events, visit jewishva.org/IsraelToday.

Elyse Cardon

Letter to the Editor