Daniel Markowitz with Dr. Yevgeny Frishman, from the Department of Electrical an
Daniel Markowitz with Dr. Yevgeny Frishman, from the Department of Electrical an Courtesy of Jerusalem College of Technology

For the seventh time, the traditional religious high schools’ Olympiphysics competition was held last week at the Jerusalem College of Technology in Jerusalem. Approximately 200 juniors and seniors from a broad range of yeshiva High Schools and Ulpanot who are studying for five units of the psychometric exam in Physics participated. The participants were equally divided between programs on the men’s and women’s campuses.

The Olympiphysics, held in cooperation with the Religious Department of the Education Ministry and Jerusalem’s Science Museum, enabled students to visit exhibits where they saw displays of recent developments in electronics and imaging. The participants attended lectures on various subjects in physics given by Dr. Amir Ben Shalom and Yossi Antkolitz of the Science Museum. Additionally, Dr. Shimon Lerner, of JCT’s Electro-Optic Department spoke about the search for life in the universe and Rabbi Yonatan Oren lectured on the effect of the observer in physics and in the Torah.

Daniel Markovitz of “Tamar Ariel” school in Netanya won first place in the contest held at the men’s Lev Campus. Shira Klein, of Zviya Ulpana in Ma'ale Adumim won first place at the women’s Tal Campus. JCT president Prof. Chaim Sukenik and rector Prof. Kenneth Hochberg, awarded tuition scholarships to those individuals who secured the first three places.

Klein, could barely contain her excitement, saying “It was an amazing experience. The test was very difficult and I was truly surprised that I had won. I love physics. It is an incredible field that very much develops thinking, and allows us to absorb a little of the remarkable world that G-d created."

Etti Orlev, Deputy Head of the Religious Department of the Education Ministry stated, “The study of physics enables us to get acquainted with unique layers of creation. Nurturing the identity and world-view of the students is done not only through getting them to learn about their Jewish heritage, but also through studying sciences and understanding that they complement each other. I therefore see great importance in the Olympiphysics being held every year in an academic institution which combines high-level academic studies with religious studies in a beit-midrash environment."

Dr. Yevgeny Frishman of JCT’s Electronics Engineering Department and the Olympiphysics’ organizer explained: "Simple functions such as lighting a bulb or turning on a car motor are actions carried out according to the laws of physics. The cellular phone that everyone owns is full of technology based on physics, which touches every aspect of our lives. We should nurture the youth to learn to like this field so that we can provide the future leaders in areas which are so fundamentally important to Israel’s future."

Etti Stern (Tal Campus Head, and organizer of the Olympiphysics) maintained: "Physics is not traditionally considered a field for women, so it is quite exciting to see many girls who are so knowledgeable in the field. We at the Jerusalem College of Technology encourage women to take on technological professions and according to figures of the Council of Higher Education, 18% of all women who study Computer Science in Israel are enrolled in our institution."

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Hagit Moshe, greeted the young contestants: "Academic institutions tend to deal with their own business, but The Jerusalem College of Technology is different – it opens its doors to a young audience with the aim of encouraging the study of science. The Jerusalem Municipality is proud of the college and its standing as a premier academic and religious establishment. Nurturing the study of sciences among the younger generation is essential to the continued development of the city of Jerusalem and the State of Israel."

Prof. Sukenik, commented: "As a child I went to an elementary school in Miami, which put strong emphasis on both the study of Torah and of science. The values and knowledge that I received in these areas have inspired me ever since then. There is a very important interface between Torah and technology. It was the foundation for the establishment of this institution 50 years ago by Professor Ze'ev Lev, a unique individual who was both a Talmudic scholar and an Israel Prize laureate in Physics."

Director of the Tamar Ariel School in Netanya, Haya Rubinstein said, “Participation in the prestigious competition is part of our school’s aspiration to achieve excellence – in values and education. It is an additional platform for advancing students' achievements, which enables them to also encounter science outside the classroom’s boundaries. I am proud of our students and believe that we are providing them with the possibility of setting important goals and aspiring to fulfill them; to understand that if you aim high – even the sky is not the limit.”

Racheli Kaplan, director of Ulpanat Tzviya in Maale Adumim, acknowledged, "We were very excited and happy to hear about the success of our girls in the Olympiphysics contest. The success in the contest is the tip of the iceberg compared to the amount of work and effort invested by both the girls and their teacher, Shlomi Yerushalayim. It is clear that the way to succeed and attain such achievements is through hard work, study and perseverance. This is what we strive to teach our students in all fields – religious, social, and educational. We wish our students much success and hope that they will reap the sweet fruits of their labor. "