Tech Talk: Haredim in hi-tech

Posted on 17 December 2014 by Josh Green

JPost

The hi-tech and start-up sector is in a constant frenzy. Haredi men and women are taking advantage of this – especially among young people who are just starting out in their careers and see the key to the future lies in the hi-tech industry.

For years now, ultra-Orthodox have been trickling into the hi-tech field, but this phenomenon is picking up steam and there are thousands of haredim who are joining the market. And within the haredi world, there are even more women than men who are taking programming and technical courses.

HaredimHiTechA volunteer social enterprise called KamaTech (www.kamatech.org.il) was founded in an effort to integrate young haredim into the forefront of the hi-tech industry and help them find work and even found their own ventures. There are 12,000 ultra-Orthodox men and women with the relevant educational background for working in the hi-tech sector and this number is growing exponentially from year-to-year as more young haredim study engineering and begin looking for work. KamaTech was founded by Zika Abzuk, the business development manager for Cisco Systems Israel, together with Moshe Friedman, a haredi entrepreneur who experienced first-hand how difficult it was to found his own start-up.

Friedman described the difficulties young haredi men and women face as they begin their studies and navigate the business world. Haredim have a hard time, she said, getting jobs and adapting to the non-religious workplace. Employers are also testing out the waters, checking to see how haredi employees fit into the office work environment.

And that’s where KamaTech enters the picture. KamaTech has recruited more than 30 market giants such as Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and Google, along with venture capital funds such as Pitango, accelerators and incubators, as well as a large group of senior mentors from the hi-tech world. A number of well-known investors are involved in KamaTech, such as Izhar Shay, Dov Moran, Avishai Avrahami, Amnon Shashua, Guy Gamzu and Yossi Vardi.

These individuals understand the potential that exists in the haredi work force.

Four start-ups founded by haredim Webbing (webbing.me) is an interesting new social network that is based on people’s interests.

Anyone can connect with people he or she doesn’t know who share similar interests, or live near each other. There is a group for car aficionados, another for people who live near a specific park and a third for people who love sports.

Webbing was founded by Avraham Auerbach, a haredi entrepreneur who learned at Yeshivat Hevron, and his non-haredi partner Noam Landau. Auerbach serves as the CEO and most of the staff is made up of religious men and the company’s offices are in Jerusalem.

Humaney (humaney.com) is a search engine that combines social networking and the search for information, by bringing information and people together. Humaney offers an innovative web browsing experience that lets you engage with other people who are interested in similar information. The project was founded by Udi Herschler, who learned at Ponevezh Yeshiva, who put together a fantastic mixed haredi-secular team.

Worry that you forgot to lock your front door? Want to unlock your home for your kids while you’re still at work? Jasper Technologies (jasper.co.il) has the perfect solution – unlock or lock your door using your smartphone. CEO and founder Benjamin Parto, a haredi entrepreneur from Bnei Brak, partnered with successful business people in the Israeli security and hi-tech industries to create this innovative startup.

Another Israeli technology (which hasn’t been officially named yet) run by Yehezkel Spiro is in the field of home automation. It allows people to control the lighting and electricity in their homes and saves energy (and therefore money, too). All you have to do is click a button on your smartphone and sensors will pick up the signal and carry out the action.

Five free apps for Hanukka My Hanukkah (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-hanukkah/ id481627767?ls=1&mt=8) is a basic app for iPhone and iPad that has an interactive Hanukkia that sings songs and shows the correct number of candles for each night.

Want to play dreidel with friends this Hanukka? Download (https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id=com.diogines.dreidel) on your Android smartphone and play spin the dreidel with up to three friends. You can see and hear lyrics to traditional Hanukka songs and read a recipe for making doughnuts.

Want to create your own musical greeting card video? Download this cute app on your iPhone or iPad (https://itunes.apple.com/il/app/syr-wty-hnwkh/ id460855082?mt=8) and record yourself singing in a fun video that you can send to friends. The recording can be used as a ringtone, too.

If you want to have your own private karaoke on your Android phone, download this great app: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.adambunim.menorah). You’ll have all the lyrics and music for your favorite Hanukka songs at your fingertips when the latkes are all ready and the candles are lit.

And the best part – you’ll automatically receive updates with songs for the next holiday.

And in case you forgot how many candles you’re supposed to be lighting on one of the nights, with just one tap on your iPhone or iPad screen this app (https://itunes.apple.com/il/app/ihanukkahcandles/ id475230702?mt=8) will light the correct number of candles and play either Sephardi or Ashkenazi Hanukka music. And if you’d like, you can set the app to remind you when it’s time to light the candles.

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