Friends of Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), which rallies support for an academic institution that is at the forefront of fostering inclusion in Israeli society and infusing ingenuity into Israel’s defense sector, celebrated the school’s 50-year anniversary at its New York City gala dinner on November 3 at the Lincoln Square Synagogue.
The event honored JCT’s vice president, Stuart Hershkowitz, as well as Moriah and Yoni Belzberg, both currently students at JCT who personify the values of the college. The gala also featured remarks from keynote speaker Jonathan Medved, founder and CEO of the successful investment platform OurCrowd.
“[Israel’s] blessing is that we focus not on natural resources, but on human resources. Israel has the world’s highest per capita percentage of Nobel Prize winners, graduates 50% of students, and spends more on civilian R&D than anybody else…We have as many AI startups as the entire country of China,” said Medved. “JCT is educating over 2,000 chareidim — the biggest number of any institution in any educational program…We go to these dinners, but I don’t think we understand how certain events like this could change the world.”
The college’s flagship Electro-Optics Engineering Department prepares professionals for R&D work by providing them with a strong foundation in applied physics, electronics, and computers. One of those graduates, Col. Yaniv Avitan, received the 2018 Israel Defense Prize, the most prestigious defense prize awarded by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, for his role heading a team that works to detect the Hamas terror group’s cross-border attack tunnels.
Avitan is just one of the various JCT alumni who have become leaders in Israel’s defense industry and are involved in top-tier defense projects like the Iron Dome and Arrow anti-missile systems.
The event highlighted the college’s academic and economic empowerment of Israel’s underserved populations, such as:
- The school’s chareidi graduates attain an 89% employment rate, far exceeding the roughly 50% employment rate for chareidi men in Israel as a whole;
- 180 Ethiopian students have graduated from JCT’s Reuven Surkis Program for Students from the Ethiopian Community, 97% of whom have gained employment after graduating;
- 53 percent of JCT’s computer science students are women, who account for 20 percent of female computer science students in all of Israel.
“We are proud to continuously support the Jerusalem College of Technology, Jerusalem’s second-largest academic institution and one that continues to make a seismic impact in shaping Israel’s future by providing hi-tech education in a religious friendly environment,” said Linda Allen, the dinner chair. “Our gala dinner is a celebration each year of the success of the college, and a reminder that we must continue to empower religious students with a strong academic education which will allow them to help Israel continue to grow as the Start-Up Nation.”