Fair will bring a few slices of Israeli innovation to

Showcasing the Jewish state’s technological and humanitarian advances, the Israel Innovations Fair at the David Brower Center in Berkeley next week will serve as both a job fair and an opportunity to bolster Israel’s profile in sometimes unfriendly territory.

Israel’s fashion technology — in the form of a startup that designs modular shoes — will be featured along with cutting-edge water conservation technology, solar energy and medical advances, and high-tech mobile apps. In addition, the exhibit of the nonprofit Innovation: Africa will highlight its work bringing Israeli innovations — including light, clean water, food and medical care —to rural areas of eastern and central Africa.

“We are trying not only to present the greatness of the Israeli intellect, but to combine that with demonstrations of the nobility of Israeli hearts to apply these technologies” to humanitarian causes, explained fair co-chair Eliott Lavey.

Israeli nonprofit Innovation: Africa is helping deliver solar power to a school in a mountainous region of Uganda with no electricity. photo/innovation: africa

The Aug. 30 event will include 22 exhibitions and speakers from Israel, according to Lavey, who expects an attendance of around 500.  The event was the brainchild of Lavey and co-chair Tzipora Garbi, with backing from the advocacy group Bridges to Israel–Berkeley.

Organizing committee member Elaine Zhang, a Christian Zionist, sees the fair as a way to help combat media bias against Israel.

“Largely people do not know about all these high-tech innovations in Israel,” Zhang said. “This is an opportunity for people to learn about the Israeli contributions to mankind, because largely — especially on campus — Israel is portrayed as a giant killer.”

One of the scheduled speakers, Mohammed Atwa, is a Gaza-born Palestinian who has studied at the Arava Institute in southern Israel and now advocates Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. Companies will include Voiceitt, which created an app to help those with speech disabilities better communicate; Palm and Olive, which manufactures stitch-free leather products; and Keepy.me, which helps people create personal archives.

Lavey said he is not worried about anti-Israel protesters showing up, adding that he hasn’t heard from any activists thus far.

“The reception has been very positive,” Lavey said. “With Israelis and Palestinians speaking [at the fair], I think anyone with an open mind would enjoy the event.”

Israel Innovations Fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley. Free. www.IsraelInnovationsFair.com

Arno Rosenfeld
Arno Rosenfeld

Arno Rosenfeld is a reporter at the Forward. He is a former J. intern and has worked as a correspondent for JTA and The Times of Israel.