CIJR’s Wednesday, April 29, 2015 all-day Conference on “Israel’s High Tech Miracle & Canada: Innovation for Humanity”, a unique event held for the first time in Canada, was a superb success. A total of over 250 fascinated people, paying rapt attention, heard and discussed dynamic Conference an evening Gala by the leading Israeli and Canadian practitioners of high-tech innovation, venture-capital formation, investment opportunities, and university-private sector research cooperation.
Powerful Keynote speakers at the Conference were Prof. Izhak Ben Israel, head of Israel’s Space Agency and National Research Council, and Israel Ambassador to Canada Rafael Barak. Pierre Boivin, CEO of Claridge, Inc., spoke on Israel investment opportunities, Rafael Hochstein (MARs Innovation) and Haim Rousso (of Israeli defense company Elbit) elaborated on technological innovation, and the academic world was ably represented by Ferridun Hadullahpur (Waterloo), Guy Breton (U. de Montréal), and Graham Carr (Dean of Research, Concordia U.).
Matthew Price-Gallagher (Watercluster Scientitic) described private-governmental nanotechnology-based water innovation, Dan Vilenski (former head of Applied Materials [Israel] spoke on technological issues, and McGill U. was brilliantly represented by Prof. Nahum Sonenberg, who, emphasizing the role of pure science, presented on Israeli Nobel Prize winners in organic biochemistry, at the evening Gala.
At the 27th Anniversary Gala, Stockwell Day, one of the founders, and initial Cabinet Ministers, of the Conservative Party and of its clear and principled pro-Israel foreign policy, saved the day. Filling in on very short notice for the two scheduled Keynoters, each of whom had to drop out at the very last moment, Stock arrived from Vancouver on the “red-eye” flight, to deliver a dynamic, wide-ranging and eloquent address on democratic Jewish Israel’s incredible achievements and contributions to mankind, which brought the large audience to its feet.
More–before speaking, he also volunteered to auction off–quite comically and successfully!–two donated round-trip El Al tickets to Israel. Drawing on his pre-political business experience as an auctioneer he charmed the crowd and handily and well sold the tickets!
Finally, the evening was truly sweet for yours truly, who was honored—along with—deservedly, no CIJR without her!–my wife Lenore, also known as “Prof. K” [she art history, me history]. Wonderfully introduced by Barbara Kay, of National Post fame, who presented me with a beautiful Italian fountain pen, for my personal collection!), the honorific plaque was conferred, with a fine speech, by my 18-year-old grandson Stuart, a surprise visitor (with his dad Stefan; my eldest son Ian, with his daughter Sara, were also surprise visitors, up from Philadelphia—daughter Lise, and youngest son Adam, in Washington, DC, couldn’t get away but sent congratulatory messages).
Stu, fluent in Hebrew and a Tamid Fellowship winner (a two-months Economics internship with leading firms in Israel this summer) from the University of Maryland, charmed the audience with a strong talk on the need for on-campus Israel advocacy and, to the delight of his grandparents, stole the show!
(And, as a Concordia U. faculty member for over 40 years—History and the unique Liberal Arts College–it was also gratifying that my outstanding public University, which bore the initial brunt years ago of the anti-Israel campus delegitimation movement, took a table this year at the Gala—personal thanks to President Alan Shepard and Board Chairman Jonathan Wener.)
All in all, academically, personally, and in advocacy terms, it was a remarkable, enlightening, and invigorating day, summed up at the Gala by a wonderful video in which “Theodor Herzl” compares modern-day Israel favourably with the utopia he had envisioned in his Altneuland (Old-New Land) book (1902).
My colleague and friend Jack Kincler, our fine Board Chairman–to whom we largely owe the High-Tech Conference–was suitably honored, and special thanks are due to major backers Board members Herbie Feifer, Evelyn Schachter, Aaron Remer, David Sherman (Toronto), and Sabina Citron (in Jerusalem). Our dear colleague, Research Chairman, and resident tzaddik, 95-year-old Baruch Cohen, with me from the beginning of CIJR and still at his desk every day, was also duly recognized.
This ambitions all-day undertaking was made possible by our small but dedicated staff, outstanding volunteers like the superb videographer Abigail Hirsch, and CIJR’s fine student Interns. The Conference-Gala is solid proof of the now-international reputation and powerful Israel advocacy of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. Many of those present strongly urged us to make the Conference an annual event—on verra.
And very importantly, any of the hoped-for additional funds issuing from my honoring will go to an Endowment Fund, finally, after 27 years, to assure permanence and continuity for CIJR’s important pro-Israel, and pro-community, work. (So if you haven’t yet made your tax-free contribution, please do so now!)
(Frederick Krantz, a Professor of History at Liberal Arts College, Concordia U., has been Director, and is now President, of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research since its founding in 1988. He is also editor of its Daily Isranet Bulletin, Israfax journal, and Communiqué Isranet.)