On the eve of the Sukkot festival, Michael Eisenberg, a partner at Israeli-based venture capital firm Aleph VC, took a look at how Israel’s economy has changed over the past 3,000 years through the perspective of Sukkot. He posted it on Facebook and it’s worth reposting here on Jewish Techs blog.
By Michael Eisenberg
As we get ready for the holiday of Sukkot, I was thinking about the changing dynamics of Israel’s Economy over the last 3+ millennia. On Sukkot, we take the 4 species: the Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava. They are, of course, symbolic of the sources of water that powered the agrarian economy of Israel and the world for over 3,000 years. The Lulav grows near underground water reserves. The Etrog must we watered by man. The Hadas grows from the rain and the Arava grows along the river banks. Water of all types was lifeblood of the Israeli economy. Without it, there was starvation and poverty. On Sukkot, the holiday of the gathering, symbolizing the end of the harvest season, we gather to give thanks to God for having helped provide the water that powered our economy.
Times have changed for most of us and the miracle of the Israeli economy is powered by innovation and technology. We still need rainwater so we can drink in Israel so on this holiday I will give thanks for the water as well. But I am also thankful for the the innovative spirit of Israel’s entrepreneurs. I am thankful to God for the lack of natural resources that forced us to innovate as a country. I am thankful that our innovation economy enables us to live in security in our own country after years of wandering.
This reflection caused me also to think about a mission statement for Israel as we build an economy based on innovation. The farmer of old, upon bringing his first fruits to the Temple, would recount his family history having left Egypt and now having the privilege to till his own land. He thanked God on the festivals for that privilege. We now have the privilege to improve our own lot and the plight of humanity through innovation. For that we should all be thankful to God and to the founding fathers of the modern state of Israel and the innovation economy. We must also redouble our efforts to put this privilege to work for others.
So I humbly suggest the following mission statement as we enter this Sukkot Holiday:
Our goal as a country is to move innovation into every aspect of Israel’s economy to enable everyone to live with dignity and to extend innovative solutions to every corner of the world to improve living conditions and life quality for humanity.
Michael Eisenberg has been a key figure in Internet and software investing in Israel since 1995, playing a central role in the development of many of Israel’s leading companies and startups. In 2013, Michael launched Aleph, a $140MM early stage venture fund together with Equal Partner Eden Shochat. Aleph focuses on building big companies out of Israel and servicing the hell out of entrepreneurs. Michael previously served on the board of Snunit, Israel’s foremost nonprofit organization, specializing in integrating technology and the Internet into Israelss elementary schools. Michael also lectures frequently on the topics of venture capital and entrepreneurship at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He holds a BA in Political Science from Yeshiva University in New York.