Fourteen Chosen to Light Beacons at Israel's April 22 Independence Day Gala

Developer of Iron Dome defense system, Waze app developer, Arab journalist among honorees.

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66th Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv, May 5, 2014.
66th Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv, May 5, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod

The 14 people who will light beacons at the April 22 ceremony that opens Israel’s Independence Day festivities were named yesterday, all chosen for the breakthroughs they’ve made in their various fields.

The beacon lighters, seven men and seven women, were approved Thursday by the Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies, chaired by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat. They are:

Danny Gold, developer of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. The committee noted that the system was more than 90 percent successful during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s seven-week summer 2014 war with Hamas.

Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer and one of the developers of the Waze navigation app. The application is used daily by millions of drivers in 120 countries.

Or Assouline, a high-school student and CEO of a development firm for young entrepreneurs, who is participating in a special biomedical engineering program. She is researching a method for delivering the active ingredients in drugs through the blood-brain barrier.

Rabbanit Malka Piotrkowsky, who teaches women Talmud, a field traditionally reserved for men. She lives in Tekoa, where secular and religious families live together. “She has exceptional knowledge and proficiency in halakhic issues, works to strengthen women’s status and to find solutions to the problems of women refused a religious divorce,” the committee noted.

Rami Levi, owner of a supermarket chain and cellphone network, was chosen because his “bold initiative forced Israel’s large supermarket chains to lower prices ... and compete in a way that benefits customers. He proved that it’s possible to combine a socially conscious world view and economic success,” the panel said.

Gabriel Idan, an engineer who developed tiny cameras that patients can swallow, easing the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal problems.

Marta Weinstock-Rosin, developer of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Last year she received the Israel Prize for Medicine for her work.

Avihu Medina was chosen for “his important contribution to Israeli culture and Hebrew song. His songs have become an inalienable part of Hebrew culture.”

Sima Shein has served as head of the Mossad’s research desk, the highest intelligence position ever held by a woman. Shein has also served in various posts on the National Security Council and head of the Iran desk in the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

Alice Miller was chosen for her struggle for gender equality in the Israel Defense Forces. After her application to join a pilot’s course was refused on grounds that women could not serve in combat positions, in 1994 she petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Defense Ministry and the IDF and won. As a result, the panel said, “Numerous training courses and combat options were opened to women.”

Lucy Aharish, a journalist and television presenter, is the only Arab beacon-lighter. Aharish, who drew up in Dimona and was educated in Jewish schools, “represents and advances social pluralism and positions calling for coexistence in our country,” the panel said.

Gal Lusky is the founder and manager of Israel Flying Aid, which works to save lives and provide humanitarian relief in regions plagued by war, epidemics, starvation and natural disasters worldwide.

Rafi Mehudar, a mechanical engineer and hydraulics expert, was a developer of drip irrigation, “an agricultural breakthrough in Israel and abroad,” said the committee.

Pvt. Dan Korkowsky is a member of the IDF’s Special Intelligence Unit 9900, known as Ro’im Rahok (“Seeing Far”), composed of soldiers who are on the autism spectrum. Korkowsky has rare intelligence-gathering abilities, and the committee wrote that his success led to the expansion of the unit.

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