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BEARS AND BUSINESS STUDENTS: On Wednesday, 20 Jewish university students from the U.S., in the country on a special 10-week Birthright trip called Taglit Excel, rang the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s opening bell. In addition to the usual Taglit tour itinerary, the high-achieving American students are interning with Israeli corporations like Amdocs and Tnuva. Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel said that the goal of the Taglit Excel program is to “foster Jewish leadership’s economic reserves and raise awareness of the value of philanthropic responsibility amongst the younger generation, not just in terms of giving money, but also in terms of taking real responsibility and community involvement.” On Sunday, Alderman Michael Bear, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, will also be paying a visit to Israel’s economic epicenter. Bear is visiting the country to promote business opportunities between London and Tel Aviv. ‏(David Sheen‏)

PENN IS MIGHTIER: The University of Pennsylvania won this year’s Penn Israel Regatta, the annual yacht race of local alumni from America’s Ivy League universities, which took place last Thursday in Herzliya Pituah. Co-skippered by neurosurgeon Harry Rappaport and solar energy executive Carmel Gerber, Penn’s team beat out Harvard and the Wharton Business School. Some 100 alumni from Columbia − which won the last regatta − Yale, Princeton, Cornell, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford ‏(which was also allowed to compete‏) also manned boats in the competition. “The other boats should have heeded Penn’s esteemed founder Benjamin Franklin’s warning in competing against us: large vessels can venture more, but small boats should stay near shore,” said Dov Hoch, the president of Penn Club of Israel, who also organized the race. After all boats had returned to the shore, the alumni, their spouses and friends gathered for festive sunset dinner at the Herzliya Marina. ‏(Raphael Ahren‏)

PEACE PRIZE: The co-directors of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, Amal Elsana Alh’jooj and Vivian Silver, last week received the Institute of International Education’s 2011 Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East. Alh’jooj and Silver − who was born in Winnipeg and moved to Israel nearly 40 years ago − were recognized for their efforts to promote peace and development within Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities. Co-hosted by the IIE and the U.S. embassy, the prize ceremony was attended by U.S. Consul General Andrew Parker, Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sehiban, IIE senior counselor Peggy Blumenthal and other dignitaries. At the event, Alh’jooj said this honor was particular significant for her because while she received prizes in the U.S. and Europe before, “this is the first time that I have the honor of having my work celebrated here, together with my family, friends and my people.” ‏(Raphael Ahren‏)“


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