Berlin conference challenges Jewish entrepreneurs


BERLIN (JTA) – Israel can become the third nation ever to land on the moon, Israeli entrepreneur Yanki Margalit said at a conference in Berlin for Jewish entrepreneurs.

An unmanned Israeli spaceship will land there by 2016, predicted Margalit, a businessman and chair of SpaceIL, a nonprofit space technology organization that is participating in the Google Lunar X Prize challenge.

“You will open up your TV and it will make big news,” he said Thursday in an address titled “The Future of the Future.”

His talk about dreaming big was part of the two-day “Fly Berlin” conference on innovation and inspiration that brought together some 260 business leaders and young professionals from Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. Many Israelis living in Berlin also took part, organizers said.

The event, which featured numerous workshops and networking opportunities, was sponsored by Leadel, a European Jewish Congress project sponsored by the European Jewish Fund. The Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs also supported the Berlin event.

Tamar Shchory, executive director of Leadel, said the event aimed to “inspire the participants through hearing about success stories of Jewish innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Margalit, who started Aladdin Knowledge Systems, told JTA he wanted to inspire Jewish youth to study science. He said he was inspired by three young Israeli engineers who started the spaceship project.

Other speakers included Israeli Knesset Member Ronen Hoffman, Israeli singer Ivri Lider and Jeff Pulver, an American Internet entrepreneur.

Topics included “Tel Aviv as a Start-Up City,” “Global and Israeli Social Innovation” and “Innovation and Judaism.”

“This was the ‘Start-Up Nation’ meeting Europe,” said Moshe Kantor, head of the European Jewish Congress and the European Jewish Fund, referring to the 2009 book on the Israeli economy.

Kantor said he hoped the event would help participants “connect to being Jewish through business innovation and success.”

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