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Israeli high schoolers' FIRST robotics victory shows hope for the Jewish state

Updated: Jun 19

The Orbit 1690 team.

David Grossman is arguably one of Israel’s greatest living writers. He wrote a wrenching New York Times op-ed on March 1 titled “Israel Is Falling into an Abyss.” In it, he wrote about “the fear, the shock, the fury, the grief and humiliation and vengefulness,” all flowing into the open wound of October 7.


A funny thing happened to me on my way to writing a more hopeful response. I encountered some of the very best of Israel – its youth – and discovered firsthand not an abyss into which Israel is falling but a steep challenging mountain that young Israelis are ascending with energy, courage, and brilliance. I spoke with some of the youth who will build and rebuild our country’s future. 


On April 18, a group of young Israelis from Cramim Binyamina High School boarded a British Airways plane on their way to Houston, Texas. It was only four days after Iran sent some 300 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic rockets at Israel, at midnight Saturday, between April 13 and 14, 190 days after October 7.


With many airlines canceling flights, it was not certain they and other participants would make it to Houston. A few never did. 


The group – sophomores, juniors, and seniors – were headed to Texas to compete in the global four-day FIRST robotics competition. With them came their little robots. In all, some 550 youth and adults comprising 14 Israeli teams traveled to Houston, competing in several events. 


A few days later, the Orbit 1690 team from Cramim was on its way home as world champions. Their team built robots that outclassed the field. Israeli youth – Israel: population almost 10 million – had competed with, and cooperated with, teams from the US (population 330 million) and China (1.4 billion). And emerged champions. (See box: Winning team members).




The group – sophomores, juniors, and seniors – were headed to Texas to compete in the global four-day FIRST robotics competition. With them came their little robots. In all, some 550 youth and adults comprising 14 Israeli teams traveled to Houston, competing in several events. The group – sophomores, juniors, and seniors – were headed to Texas to compete in the global four-day FIRST robotics competition. With them came their little robots. In all, some 550 youth and adults comprising 14 Israeli teams traveled to Houston, competing in several events. 





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