Where people choose unprescribed paths

Today I had the opportunity to give a talk to the students at Avratech, an organization that provides training for a career in high tech to members of the Ultra Orthodox community. When I arrived to the slightly dilapidated building behind the Bikur Cholim hospital in the heart of Jerusalem’s city center, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found that the building was undergoing some renovations to make room for the new offices of Ravtech, a company offering services in Mobile app development, Web development, QA, and more – staffed by graduates of the Avratech school.

I was greeted by Aaron Safrai, CEO of Avratech, who thanked me for coming and explained that the students were at the end of a packed day and I should go easy on them. I glanced at the schedule on the wall which was jam packed with lectures in English, Math, and Coding, and of course Mincha, the afternoon prayer, had a dedicated spot on the schedule.

The students weren’t sure why I was there, asking how I got there and if they’d be tested on the material I was coming to present. I started by explaining that I met Vered Mor, RavTech’s CEO at an event earlier and she told me about Avratech and Ravtech and their mission.

To summarize a very complex and nuanced social phenomenon, the Ultra Orthodox have mostly shunned secular education and careers instead focusing on a life of study of Jewish texts. Avratech and Ravtech are providing an opportunity for Ultra Orthodox men to study for a profession in High Tech and to work in the field in an environment that accommodates their lifestyle. Ravtech’s vision, according to its website,

“is to leverage the unique potential and capabilities of the Talmudical colleges’ graduates (high yeshivas and kollels) into delivering top quality software services. Ravtech enables the talented among the ultra-religious men to be trained and earn a proper livelihood, while keeping the essence of their religious way of life.”

I came to talk about my specialty, Cloud services. I explained in the lecture that Cloud services should be seen as a tool in their toolbox, and familiarity with those services will be an asset for them in their careers. I described some background about the history of Amazon Web Services and a few of its core services. After an hour of explaining on the whiteboard, doodling servers, databases, Availability Zones, and more, I opened up the Amazon console to briefly show what it looks like inside, and ended the lecture. I encouraged them to open their own free account and get their hands dirty.

I am thankful to Vered and Aaron for the opportunity to speak to the class, and mostly the students who are taking a different path than the one prescribed by their society. I hope I was able to add a few more tools to their tool box as they embark on their careers as engineers, and show them a new way of thinking and working.

(An earlier version of this piece was published via the author’s Linkedin account)

Max Rabin

Posted by Max Rabin

Max Rabin studied Software Engineering at the Jerusalem College of Technology. He builds software services using Cloud technologies. He's currently building a new way to shop for clothing online at Craze

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