Prize awarded to Imad Telhami, Chairman and Founder of Babcom Centers, for promoting the integration of minorities into Israel’s workforce
The 2019 Hugo Ramniceanu Prize in Economics was awarded to Imad Telhami, Chairman and Founder of Babcom Centers, a company that provides call center services to leading Israeli businesses as well as software development services. The company, which has 11 branches and is centered in northern Israel, employs 2,500 workers, of which 70% are from the Arab sector, and 80% women.
The Hugo Ramniceanu Prize honors the late Hugo Ramniceanu, a longtime President of the French Friends Association. It is awarded annually to distinguished personalities in the Israeli business world. The Prize was awarded in the presence of Hugo Ramniceanu’s daughter, Dr. Monique Barel, son, Gerard Ramniceanu, and members of the French Friends. The ceremony was moderated by Marc Haddad, Treasurer of the French Friends.
Telhami, a Christian Arab, was awarded the prize in recognition of his vision in founding a company that generates employment opportunities for minority groups and individuals in Israel’s socioeconomic and geographic periphery, and his civic leadership in promoting the democratic values of equality and inclusiveness as a central part of his business model.
Telhami has served in numerous civic posts and has participated in a number of projects with partners who share his commitment, including the Lautman Foundation, Appleseeds Academy and the University of Haifa. He is a member of the Board of Kav Mashve Kav, a non-profit organization which promotes equal employment opportunities for Arab university graduates within the Israeli business sector, as well as a member of the Advisory Committee for Economic Development in the Arab, Druze and Circassian sector in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Outgoing TAU President Joseph Klafter praised Imad Telhami for his entrepreneurial spirit in founding Babcom Centers and transforming it within a decade into an Israeli success story. “Both Babcom and Tel Aviv University depend on the top talent of Israel to push forward technological innovation. The difference is that Imad hires the talent, while TAU is training the talent,” said Prof. Klafter. He congratulated Telhami on his decision to donate his award money to scholarships for Arab women studying STEM fields. “It means a lot to our Arab students to receive support from a successful role model from their community,” said Prof. Klafter.
Dr. Monique Barel noted that this was the 4th decade of allocating the Ramniceanu Prize. “Nobody at that time identified Israel with economic development. Then came my father, an industrialist of Romanian origin, who recognized Israel’s potential in the economic sphere,” said Barel.
Chairman of the Board of Governors Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel said, “Hugo Ramniceanu would have been thrilled beyond words to see how successfully Israel is performing in the global economic arena. Long before the term ‘Startup Nation’ was born, Hugo put his faith in scientific and technological progress, seeing it as the prime factor for Israel’s strong competitive edge.” He congratulated Telhami and noted that one of the co-founders of Babcom was the late TAU benefactor and industrialist Dov Lautman, himself a Ramniceanu Prize winner.
An enterprise with a social mission
In his address to the gathering, Telhami said, “Unlike many of the recipients of this prestigious prize, my business is a small one. However, I see this as a prize that awards those who work hard to combine success with a social mission,” he said. “I am proud to receive this prize on behalf of small social entities serving the public interest and the Arab community on the periphery of Israeli society. I see the company I built as an opportunity to build bridges and an instrument to create a global entrepreneurial peace community. I thank all our customers who trusted us, our investors and partners and of course my family. “
The Hugo and Valerie Ramniceanu Scholarship in Economics was awarded to Alexander Zinchin, a student of economics and management.
Recent winners of the Prize include: Gett founder and CEO, Dave Weiser; CEO of Castro Etti and Gabi Rotter; Intel Israel CEO Maxine Fassberg; founders of Medinol, Kobi and Yehudit Richter; founders and developers of WAZE, Noam Baradin, Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar; founder of the Dr. Fischer complex, Dr. Eli Fischer; and Rami Levy, supermarket titan.
Fetured image: Ramniceanu Prize winner Imad Telhami. Photo: Israel Hadari
This year’s Honorary Degrees will be awarded to illustrious individuals in the areas of research, business, banking, social activism and philanthropy
The ceremony will take place on 16 May 2019 at the Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium on the Tel Aviv University campus as part of the 2019 international Board of Governors Meeting.
The George S. Wise Medal:
Dr. Axel A. Weber, Germany
Dr. Axel Weber has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS, a Swiss bank and the world’s largest global wealth manager, since 2012. Previously, he served as a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, President of the German Bundesbank, and as a member of the German Council of Economic Experts. He was a professor at the University of Cologne (2001-2004), Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main (1998-2001) and University of Bonn (1994-1998), and a Visiting Professor at the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago (2011-2012). A leading financial expert, Dr. Weber serves in a diverse range of advisory and trustee roles, including as Chairman of the Board of the Institute of International Finance, member of the Group of Thirty, and board member of the Swiss Bankers Association. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Siegen, Germany.
Mr. Sylvan Adams, Israel/Canada
Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-born businessman, philanthropist and amateur cycling champion, made Aliyah in 2016. He previously served as CEO of the Montreal-based real estate firm Iberville Developments, and was the sole shareholder of Summit International Bank. Upon immigrating to Israel, Adams quickly integrated and devoted himself to serving his country; his calling card reads: “Self-appointed Ambassador at large for the State of Israel.” Adams supports an array of causes, most notably in education, health sciences, Jewish continuity, and sport, continuing the philanthropic legacy of his parents, Marcel and Annie, and the family tradition to make a positive contribution to society. Adams holds an MBA from the University of Toronto. He is a Governor and Vice-Chair of Tel Aviv University’s Board of Governors, and a member of the cabinet of TAU’s Global Campaign.
Prof. Adrian R. Krainer, USA/Uruguay
Adrian Krainer is the St. Giles Foundation Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Long Island, NY). He grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, the child and grandchild of Jewish Romanian and Hungarian immigrants. He received his BSc and PhD degrees in biochemistry from Columbia University and Harvard University, respectively. Prof. Krainer focuses his research on RNA splicing, and invented the RNA-targeted antisense therapeutic Spinraza, the first approved drug to treat the neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy. Prof. Krainer has published widely and holds 7 US patents and 83 foreign patents that have been licensed or sublicensed to 3 companies. He is the recipient of the 2019 Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize and the 2019 RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Prof. Krainer is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors (USA), and the Royal Society of Medicine (UK).
Dr. Shlomo Markel, Israel
Dr. Shlomo Markel has been Vice President, Office of the Chief Technical Officer, at Broadcom since 2001. Dr. Markel also oversees both the operations in Israel, where Broadcom has acquired 13 companies in the last decade, and academic collaboration with all the major Israeli universities; and promotes STEM education in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. In 1999, he retired at the rank of Rear Admiral from the Israeli Navy as Chief of Material Command, where he headed R&D, logistics, programs and technology. The holder of several US and international patents, Dr. Markel has received numerous accolades, including the Navy CNO Citation for Creative Thinking, Israel’s R&D Ministry of Defense Ingenuity Award and, in 2013, national recognition from the President of Israel for his and Broadcom’s contribution to the Israeli economy. Dr. Markel holds a BSc, MSc and DSc in electrical engineering from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria
Economist, international development expert and anti-corruption warrior, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the first woman to serve as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006). Previously, she served for 25 years at the World Bank, rising to the number two position of Managing Director, where she oversaw an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, Asia and Europe. Among a host of leadership and advisory roles, she currently chairs the boards of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the Africa Risk Capacity. She co-chairs the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and is a member of the Standard Chartered Bank PLC and Twitter Boards, among others. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala holds a degree in economics from Harvard (1976) and a PhD in regional economics and development from MIT (1981). She was named by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015, and by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful women for five consecutive years.
Mr. Dilip Shanghvi, India
Dilip Shanghvi is an Indian entrepreneur who founded Sun Pharmaceutical Industries in 1983. The company is the 5th largest global specialty generic pharma company with revenues of $4 billion. Mr. Shanghvi is currently the Managing Director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, and Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company, which is engaged in R&D of drugs and delivery systems. Mr. Shanghvi is the former President of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. In 2018, he was appointed to the central board committee of the Reserve Bank of India, and in 2017 he was made a trustee of the Rhodes Scholarship Program at Oxford University. He is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. For his accomplishments, the Indian government awarded Mr. Shanghvi the Padma Shri civilian award in 2016.
The Hon. Laura Wolfson Townsley, UK
The Honorable Laura Wolfson Townsley is Chair of the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust and a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation, both of which have a long tradition of funding excellence in higher education across the UK and Israel. She is the granddaughter of Sir Isaac Wolfson and the daughter of Lord Wolfson of Marylebone, the charities’ founders. In 2010, the Wolfson family was awarded the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy and, in 2013, the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Mrs. Wolfson Townsley has received numerous honors for her charitable endeavors, including an honorary fellowship from Birkbeck, University of London and the Rambam Award for 2011, and she is a Tel Aviv University Governor. The Wolfson family has supported an extensive range of projects at Tel Aviv University over four decades, including buildings, research grants, prizes, scholarships and chairs in fields ranging from engineering to Jewish studies and theoretical physics.
Dr. Janet L. Yellen, USA
Dr. Janet Yellen is an economist who served as Chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System from 2014-18, and as Vice-Chair from 2010-2014. She is a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. Among her prior roles, she was Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton, and President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Dr. Yellen has been a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley since 1980, where she was the Eugene and Catherine Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has written on a wide range of macroeconomic issues, with an emphasis on the causes, mechanisms and implications of unemployment. She received her PhD in economics from Yale University in 1971, the only woman in a class of 24.
Mr. Richard Sincere, USA
Richard Sincere is founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Sincere & Co., a third-party marketing and distribution firm in the financial investment industry. He previously worked at the Fidelity Investment Advisor Group as a Senior Vice President and in management positions at National Westminster Bank and Citicorp/Citibank. He has been a Director of the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards since 2010 and also serves on the mutual fund board of Roge Partners Fund. Mr. Sincere writes a bimonthly column for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors publication, and serves on the advisory boards of The Journal of Wealth Management and Inside Money. At Tel Aviv University, he is a member of the international Board of Governors and of the board of the Coller School of Management, as well as outgoing National Chairman of the American Friends Board of Directors. His connection with TAU began when he spent a study year abroad in its overseas program in 1974.
Appleseeds Academy, Israel
Appleseeds Academy is an Israeli non-profit founded in 2000 with the aim of bridging between Israel’s startup sector and marginalized communities from Israel’s social and geographic periphery. An initiative of Mr. Leon Recanati, who serves as its Honorary President, Appleseeds promotes digital equality in Israel by developing and implementing programs in the areas of technology, employment and life skills. Through its team of 250 professional instructors, Appleseeds works in dozens of sites across Israel, from Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south, reaching some 80,000 beneficiaries annually. Its overarching mission is to level the playing field for underprivileged groups by equipping them with technological and life skills that will help them integrate into Israel’s mainstream employment market, economy and society.
TAU President’s Award:
SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. The $100 million project was founded by three young engineers in response to the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge and made possible by several private donors. SpaceIL’s launch of ‘Beresheet’ took place in February 2019 and while, its moon landing was unsuccessful, it made Israel the seventh country to orbit the Moon and is the first privately funded spacecraft to achieve this milestone.
Yariv Bash: Bash is a TAU electrical & electronic engineering alumnus, and CEO and co-founder of Flytrex Aviation, which provides autonomous drone delivery solutions.
Yonatan Winetraub: A TAU master’s alumnus in electrical engineering and a graduate of the NASA International Space University, Winetraub gained experience in space technologies as a satellite system engineer for Israeli Aerospace Industries.
Kfir Damari: An entrepreneur, engineer, researcher and lecturer, is a communication systems engineering graduate of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and is co-founder of Tabookey, a cyber security startup.
Mordechai Akiva Friedman wins high national honour for Geniza work
The 2019 Israel Prize in the category of Jewish History was awarded to TAU Prof. (emer.) Mordechai Akiva Friedman, Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology. He was recognized by the Prize committee as “the greatest Geniza scholar of our generation, whose work has shed light on the history of the Jewish people in the Middle Ages in the East, including in North Africa, the Land of Israel and beyond to India, and on Jewish-Muslim relations.”
Born in the USA, Prof. Friedman gained his BA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a Rabbinical Degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He joined the TAU faculty in 1973, served recurrently as Chairman of the Talmud Department, and was incumbent of the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Chair in Jewish Culture in Muslim Lands and Cairo Geniza Studies.
Prof. Friedman is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Ben Zvi Institute Awards for Research of the Land of Israel and Jewish Communities in the East, among others. In 2001, he was elected Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He has authored 12 books and edited 20 and has published ca. 160 articles in professional journals.
Dr. Sefy Hendler received the highest decoration awarded by the French Ministry of Culture
Dr. Sefy Hendler, head of the Department of Art History at Tel Aviv University, has been named Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of the highest decorations awarded by the French Ministry of Culture. The title was given to him for “his commitment to the service of French culture”.
He received the decoration from the hands of the French Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Hélène Le Gal, during a ceremony that took place on February 18, at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I think that in our country, fed by American culture, there is room for other voices,” he said. “The French voice, according to which I have been educated for many years, is among the most important, especially because it is different, and I wish that my students, as well as the other people who come to the University, will be exposed to this aspect of culture “.
Personalities who received this award in the past include British poet and playwright T. S. Eliot, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, American writer Paul Auster, actress Sharon Stone, as well as Israeli authors Amos Oz, David Grossman, Ohad Naharin, Haim Gouri et Zeruya Shalev.
Prof. Amnon Yariv honored for decades of breakthrough research in optoelectronics
In recognition of his indelible mark in the field of integrated optics technology, Tel Aviv University awarded an honorary doctorate to Prof. Amnon Yariv, the Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). The conferment ceremony was held at the Raya and Joseph Jaglom Auditorium in the George S. Wise Senate Building. Prof. Yariv is a member of and visiting lecturer at TAU’s Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies.
With a plethora of awards and honors, including the prestigious National Medal of Science presented by President Barak Obama in 2010, Prof. Yariv is widely credited with transforming the optical communications industry. His research group, which focuses on the theoretical and technological underpinning of optical communication, has generated numerous technologies, not the least of which was the invention of the semiconductor distributed feedback laser. This device enabled the transmission of mass data via phone, video, cable and the Internet, which has profoundly influenced society and culture across the globe.
Israeli-born Prof. Yariv fought in Israel’s War of Independence from 1948-1950, before leaving for the US. He completed his BSc, MSc and PhD in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, taking on his first role as Research Associate there in 1958. He then spent five years on the technical staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories, before returning to academia in 1964 as a professor of electrical engineering at CalTech, where he remains today.
In his tribute to Prof. Yariv, TAU Rector Yaron Oz spoke of how TAU awards honorary doctorates to those who are visionaries in their field — to those who create new realities instead of merely improving on what exists. “The ability to set a vision far beyond imagination and bridge the gap between vision and reality, this is the paths of excellence that led you here today,” said Prof. Oz.
Presenting the award along with Prof. Oz was TAU Vice President Raanan Rein. Among the guests in attendance were: Prof. Yossi Rosenwaks, Dean of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering; Prof. Avraham Gover, Head, Israeli Free Electron Laser Knowledge Center for Radiation Sources and Applications, Faculty of Engineering; and Prof. (Emeritus) Emanuel Marom, former Dean of Engineering.
Featured image: From left: Prof. Yaron Oz, Prof. Amnon Yariv and Prof. Raanan Rein Photo: Yehonatan Zur