As a young boy growing up, one of my favorite shows was “The Jetsons.” With a catchy theme song, fun characters and a silly plot every episode, it was a fun and easy way to spend 30 minutes. The storylines seemed incredibly futuristic—almost unimaginable—with flying cars, telephone watches and video phones. Who could have ever thought of these things?!
“The Jetsons” are important for a couple of reasons. The first is that George himself was born on July 31, 2022—a date that seemed incredibly far away when the show debuted in 1962. The show took place in 2062, George was 40 and with some minor digging, you can find out his birthday is indeed July 31. So, as we approach the birthday of George Jetson, we can also celebrate the fact that so many of the show’s far-away inventions are either already here or in the works. And much of that technology was created in the StartUp Nation itself—Israel.
When the “The Jetsons” debuted, the State of Israel was just 14 years old, and the country looked nothing like it does today and certainly nothing like the fancy metropolis of Orbit City—home of Jane and George Jetson and their children Judy and Elroy. However, Orbit City looks a lot more like Tel Aviv today than the Tel Aviv of 1962, when David Ben Gurion was Prime Minister.
Technology like the Sky Tran, Pill Cam, Glide App, Flexible Stent, USB Flash Drive, irrigation and water technology used in dry arid climates, MobilEye, Waze, David’s Sling, Iron Dome, as well as innumerable tech startups, have emanated from Israel. So many, in fact, that the term “Startup Nation” had to be coined.
Plato said: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In 1962, Israel had land in the middle of the desert, a population of less than a few million people and was barely two decades past the greatest tragedy the world has ever seen—the Holocaust. It had to be creative.
Israelis have proven from the very first day of their sovereignty that they have a knack for being resourceful. One day after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors. Without a true army or air force, Israel not only defended itself but did so with relative ease. From that day forward, it has continued to show its intelligence on all levels of society. The world would be a far different place without Israeli creativity and innovation.
I doubt George Jetson was Jewish. In fact, I think it’s fair to say he wasn’t. I don’t recall any talk of Israel, innovation or intelligence in any episode. I would also venture a guess that “The Jetsons” wasn’t aired in Israel back in the 1960s. But the Israelis had their own game plan to help make the world a smarter and more efficient place.
The juxtaposition is odd: We were watching “The Jetsons” on black-and-white televisions without cable or remote controls. Commercials were our only opportunity to grab a snack or run to the restroom. The Jetsons were living in a future that seemed so far away. However, thanks to Israeli technology, we are enjoying much of what we saw and could only laugh about back then. As we approach July 31, we can fondly recall an iconic television show as well as say happy actual birthday to George Jetson. For those of you old enough, I can hear you singing the theme song right now. “Meet George Jetson … ”
Steve Rosenberg is the principal at the GSD Group and current board chair of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.