newsIsrael at War

Israeli startups step in to fill wartime gaps

In cooperation with the Tel Aviv Municipality, CODA has imported and delivered to 300 deaf individuals customized smart watches that vibrate whenever a siren goes off. 

Shani Bibi shows two deaf Israelis how to use a smart watch to learn about rocket alerts. Photo: Shlomi Yosef.
Shani Bibi shows two deaf Israelis how to use a smart watch to learn about rocket alerts. Photo: Shlomi Yosef.

Imagine being unable to hear sirens warning of an incoming rocket. Enter CODA, which sprang to action in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre to provide Israel’s deaf community with the means to stay safe. 

In cooperation with the Tel Aviv Municipality, CODA has imported and delivered to 300 deaf individuals customized smart watches that vibrate whenever a siren goes off. 

“After the Oct. 7 attacks, I decided to move in with my parents to make sure they were aware of the sirens and sought safety consistently,” CODA co-founder Shani Bibi, whose parents are deaf, told JNS.

“After a week, it became impractical. I had to leave everything behind—my job, my family and my own responsibilities to take care of them. I needed a long-term solution,” she explained.

Bibi is currently working with additional Israeli municipalities to expand her effort to other cities, including Holon, Givat Shmuel and Kiryat Ekron. 

“When you need to sacrifice your nights to make sure your parents are safe, you understand the importance of finding a permanent solution suitable for each member of the deaf community, especially those who live alone,” said Bibi.

Hamas’s murderous Oct. 7 assault killed 1,200 Israelis, wounded thousands more and shook the country to its core. It also deprived hundreds of thousands of Israelis of the most basic services and comforts of modern life, including education. 

Origametria is a start-up that created an innovative ed-tech platform to teach children math and geometry using Origami.

In partnership with the Israeli Education Ministry, the company is currently providing open access to its platform to schools, teachers and even parents. 

“It’s more than a learning tool,” Origametria founder Miri Golan told JNS. “When people fold [paper], their emotions unfold.” 

Golan explained that as schools operate remotely during the war against Hamas, they must find new and compelling ways to teach children, many of whom have been traumatized. 

“When you and I hear a siren, we understand that there are defense systems to intercept the threat, which probably isn’t close to us. For children, the threat is immediate and the level of fear they experience is overwhelming,” said Golan.

Since Oct. 7, she has visited displaced families from the southern Israeli communities of Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim who sought innovative solutions to resume their children’s education. 

“I taught them how to use Origametria, which is also available in Arabic. Israeli Arabs are also suffering in this crisis like any other Israeli. Education is a right for all,” added Golan.

Children using Origametria to learn Geometry. Photo courtesy of Origametria.

The agricultural sector, which already lacked 20,000 workers before the war, has also been severely impacted, with laborers close to the border with Gaza unable work to because of the danger. Many foreign workers also fled the country after the outbreak of the conflict.

Israeli tech company SunDo developed an application that connects farmers to urban and rural communities.

“We created a filter that displays a security level for each geographical area,” Batel Asulin, founder of SunDo, told JNS. “We also created a geographic selection filter to allow people to volunteer close to home when possible and choose their preferred age group. We’ve recorded over 70,000 signups to our platform and 5,000 in the past week,” said Asulin. 

Asulin says matching the needs and expectations of both farmers and volunteers isn’t an easy task. 

“Some farmers don’t work on Shabbat, some do but can’t always offer kosher food or aren’t really interested in working with kids,” she explained. “Like during the COVID pandemic, a lot of Israelis are seeking ways to change their scenery while being productive.”

Some restaurants and bars remained closed in the days after Hamas’s attacks, due to their employees being called for military reserve duty, being evacuated or just not showing up for work.

Leonardo Marcovitz, founder of MoreFoods, which created a meat alternative protein made of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, donated 500 kilos of his product to restaurants in the aftermath of Oct. 7.

A MoreFoods protein delivery to Aroma restaurant. Photo courtesy of Eyal Shahar.

This was part of a general volunteer effort to feed terror victims and soldiers on the frontlines including companies like Aroma, Cafe Xoho, Haachim, J-17 and Stollero. 

“As an Israeli, when terror hits your people, you help those in need. Our motivation was to help feed as many people as possible,” Marcovitz told JNS. 

Eyal Shahar, product and sales manager at MoreFoods, explained to JNS that “some soldiers are vegan or vegetarian. They need nutritious meals to sustain heavy fighting. Our product contains 27% protein. It’s a wonderful alternative for them at this time.”

All four of these startups are alumni of MassChallenge’s 2023 Early Stage Accelerator Program.

Molly Livingstone, ecosystem manager at Mass Challenge, told JNS that both CODA and Origametria were also selected to participate in an all-expenses paid investor roadshow in Boston and New York that was postponed due to the war.

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