Avi Jorisch is the author of the newly published “Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World,” which presents 15 stories showing how Israelis of different religions are “making life better for billions of people around the world” and “helping to feed the hungry, cure the sick and provide shelter for the homeless.”

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Avi Jorisch

Jorisch chose these 15 stories because they display a mix of innovations in medicine, high-tech, low-tech, water consumption and agriculture, all of which affect people everywhere. Because there are so many innovations in Israel, he found it difficult to choose, so he included Israel’s 50 greatest contributions to the world in an appendix. Even that, however, didn’t fully capture Israel’s impact. “I could have easily kept going,” he notes, but he chose to highlight the 15 stories because “they spoke to me in a moving and definitive way” and were “rays of light.”  

Jorisch placed United Hatzalah first in the book because it “humanizes Israel in a very deep way, and therefore sets the tone for the entire book.” He loves the organization “because it is not a Jewish organization, or a Christian or Muslim organization,” but “a lifesaving organization. He adds: “I am in awe of the lifesaving army that United Hatzalah has created” using “a highly advanced geospatial phone application that calls on trained medical personnel to respond to medical emergencies in their vicinity.” This app, along with the ambulance-motorcycle hybrid known as the ambucycle, gets first responders to “medical emergencies quickly, thereby cutting down response times and helping save lives.”

According to Jorisch, “When people think about the Middle East, they often think about conflict and terrorism. Most people aren’t even aware of United Hatzalah, or that it is marshaling human resources and technology to save lives.” The volunteers — Jewish, Christian or Muslim — “rush to other people’s aid and treat them like their own mothers and fathers.”

Jorisch quipped that “my own children have told me many times that want to ride ambucycles, and they are five and seven years old.”

When asked why he believes Israel has had such an impact in creating innovations that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, Jorisch replied: “For 3,000 years, the children of Israel have repeated on a daily basis their desire to feed the hungry, cure the sick, provide shelter for the homeless and repair the world. We believe we have a partnership with God and have a responsibility to spread morality and social justice. All of this has deeply impacted the cultural DNA of Jewish people and the State of Israel. We aren’t a nation of saints — but we have been seeking higher meaning for the last three millennia.”

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Thou Shalt Innovate: Cover Photo

When asked why he wrote the book, Jorisch responded by saying: “There is no single narrative that defines the Jewish people, but there is no denying that the country has extraordinary innovators who are bound together not by religion, stature or money, but by a desire to make the world a better place and save lives. I feel this is an often-neglected part of the Israeli story that I wanted others to see.”

Jorisch began working on his book shortly after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when he and his family were going into and out of bomb shelters. “My family, like the rest of Israel, took great comfort in the Iron Dome,” says Jorisch, “but I also learned that it wasn’t the only lifesaving innovation that Israel has created, and I knew I needed to write about the others. Israeli innovations are positively impacting the lives of billions of people around the world.”

Jorisch expressed real hope for Israel’s future and its role in a resource-starved planet. “Take, for example, Egypt and Iran, both of which are about to experience severe water shortages in the next few decades. Do you think that these countries will choose not to turn towards the one country in the world that has declared a water independence from the weather and its neighbors? And it doesn’t end there. Israel has solutions when it comes to agricultural, medical and defense challenges that will continue to afflict planet earth in the years to come.”

“Thou Shalt Innovate” can be purchased on Amazon, and starting at the end of the month, it will also be available at Steimatzky’s bookstores in Israel.