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Day 4: Rehovot & Jerusalem

day-4

 

Today we made our way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Our trip took us to the origin of Israel’s tech boom, Rehovot.  In the 1940s, Rehovot was one of the world’s largest producers of oranges.  Over the past 75 years Rehovot has become the original crown jewel in Israel’s renowned tech sector, which has earned the country the name “Start Up Nation.”

In Rehovot we visited two agri-tech companies that chose Missouri as their North American hubs,

NRGene and Evogene.  Both are currently focused on methods to increase farming productivity.  Their amazing successes over a short period of time provide a model for economic development.  We took advantage of the opportunity to have a frank exchange on what companies need from communities and governments to flourish in Missouri.

On our way to Jerusalem we stopped at the Israel Museum where we saw a scale model of Jerusalem as it existed in Roman times, around 70 AD/CE.  The museum also houses the Shrine of the Book, which contains many fragments from the famed Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran.  The exhibits provided valuable cultural and architectural context for our stay in Jerusalem, a city that has been inhabited by varying groups for almost 6,000 years.  By contrast, Tel Aviv, where we spent much of the first part of our trip, is a young city of only a little over a century.

In the evening we were joined by Dr. Ayal Kimchi from the Shoresh Institute who provided a thought provoking presentation on inequality and economic challenges in Israel.  We explored a range of issues in this engaging discussion, including the relationship between educational opportunity and economic growth.  After the presentation our group continued discussing, and at times debating, politics and our understanding of Israel.  This was a great way to cap another productive, yet exhausting day.

You can view pictures from the day here.

Trip Reflections

By Senator-Elect Denny Hoskins

denny

Today started off in Tel Aviv with an upbeat speaker talking about how Israel became a high tech country.  His point concerning high tech really hit home when we visited the companies NRGene and Evogene, although we were running late since Rep. Barnes forgot his vest at the hotel.

Both of these agricultural start-up companies have offices in St. Louis and we are thankful they have expanded to Missouri.

We ended the day in Jerusalem at dinner learning about the economy, unemployment, and education of Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews, and a late night visit to the Western Wall.  It seems as if each street corner and building in Jerusalem has a historically significant story that is hundreds or thousands of years old.  It is difficult to absorb the long history of Israel’s Capitol, Jerusalem, but it is indeed a magnificent city.

By Representative Holly Rehder

holly

Today, just like all previous days, held significance in many areas. Learning and understanding the successes of the Israeli people, thinking of ways to integrate some of these successes back home, and then finally, the very personal fulfillment of being in such a spiritual and historical place.

We started the day discussing and learning about how Israel is considered the “Start-Up Nation.”  The morning began with Assaf Luxembourg on the Israeli economy and “DNA” (I threw that in just for Andrew :)), then we visited the start-up NRGene and ended the business side of the day touring Evogene.  To me, there has been one reoccurring thought with regard to their start-up successes, they are not afraid to fail. I believe the negativity and shame we place on ourselves as Americans when we fail holds back many successes. I also believe the differences in our tort laws play a significant role as well. Not being afraid of failure, I would agree, is truly one of the major ingredients in their success.

The afternoon was filled with a trip to the Israel Museum to see the archaeological finds of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  To see with my own eyes words that were inspired by our Creator so many years ago when it was fresh in the writer’s mind and heart…well…I have not words to justly describe.  I will always cherish this opportunity.