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January 3, 2014

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUAHY , ,u ,4 Despite rising threats, Iron Dome manufacturer's CEO sleeps well By Josh Hasten JNS .org The security situation in Israel has grown increas- ingly tense of late, with a spike in terror attacks car- ried out on numerous fronts, and through various means, by both recognized terror groups and presumed "lone wolf" assailants. But such developments don't rattle VADM (ret.) Yedidia Yaari. "I sleep well because I know we (Israelis) have the capability to outsmart our enemies in every respect," says Yaari--president and CEO of Rafael Advanced De- fense Systems Ltd., Israel's second-largest government owned defense company--in an interview with Recent attacks on Israel include Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza last week, and a Dec. 29 barrage of Katyusha rockets fired at northern Israel from Lebanon. There were no injuries reported in either incident. The Israel Defense Forces responded in the south by targeting Hamas terror targets in Gaza, including a weapons- manufacturing facility and a weapons-storage facility. In the north, the IDF launched artillery shells targeting the source of the rocket fire. The IDF, fearing further escala- tion, .has also reportedly redeployed the Iron Dome system in several southern Israeli towns. Rafael--the Iron Dome's manufacturer--researches, develops, manufactures, and supplies a wide range of air, land, sea, and space application defense systems for domestic use and for IDF soldiers in the field. The com- pany's 2012 sales amounted to $1.8 billion, with a backlog of orders worth $4.2 billion. Since its deployment in April 2011, the Iron Dome has had a success rate of better than 90 percent, intercept- ing more than 500 short and medium range rockets and missiles fired at southern Israel within 100 kilometers from Gaza. In partnership with U.S.-based Raytheon Missile Systems, Rafael has also developed the David's Sling system to defend Israel against long-range artillery rockets, short-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and other traditional air-defense threats. In November, the sys- tem successfully completed its second interception test againstashort-range ballistic missile. Yaari is hopeful that David's Sling will be fully operational by 2015. Yaari has been in his current role at Rafael since December of 2004, after an illustrious 39-year career in Israel's Navy during which he served as commander in chief since 2000. The Iron Dome and David's Sling, he explains, are the first two components within Israel's "three-tiered umbrella de- fense system," which also includes the joint U.S.-Israel Arrow Weapons System, al- ready deployed to intercept long-range surface to surface ballistic missiles while they are still outside of the earth's atmosphere. But how is Rafael--a relatively small defense company when compared to other similar companies around the world, with just 6,500 employees--able to compete in the global mar- ketplace? Yaari tells, "Our secret to compete with the U.S., Russia, France, in this brutal competition is simply the skill set and excellent engineering corps developed here for the past 60 years in our R&D (re- search and development center. [With] our variety of technicians, their depth of knowledge, [and] such a variety of technologies, we are a unique company, and while we are small [we] can compete with these giants." Another advantage Ra- fael has is "the spirit of the people," according to Yaari. "Rafael has retained a special type of personal commitment from everyone who works here, which has enabled us to form a concen- trated effort," he says. Yaari says Rafael devel- oped the Iron Dome system in a way no one else has done--from scratch. "This was accomplished with hundreds of people working together around the clock for three years," he says. At one point while the Iron Dome was being developed, Yaari recalls that those working on the project took a breal and were bused down to the beleaguered Gaza- border town of Sderot, where thousands of rockets have fallen since the year 2000. "We went down to Sderot for a day, to meet with the residents and get anintimate feel of who we were working for. That visit made us push even stronger [to finish]," he says. Yaari explains that the Iron Dome--currently with six operational batteries available for deployment at short notice, based on threat assessment--is a relatively inexpensive, yet highly efficient, solution against different types of "mass rocket-based artillery that the opposition is using, including Qassam rockets as well as Grad and Fajr mis- siles, which is our current problem." He says the Iron Dome "exceeded all expecta- tions" during Israel's 12-day Operation Pillar of Defense mission against Gazan terror in November 2012. During that time, when more than 1,500 rockets were fired at Israel, Iron Dome batteries were strategically deployed and programmed only to shoot down rockets that were headed directly towards Israeli civilian population centers. The Iron Dome deemed two-thirds of the rockets fired at Israel during Pillar of Defense to be non- threatening, and the system intercepted 90 percent of the threatening rockets. Thanks to the Iron Dome, Israel was "still able to func- tion in the midst of a war" during Pillar of Defense, says Yaari. "The trains were running, people were going to work, the port at Ashdodwas open, everything became sustain- able," he says, adding that the Iron Dome's presence meant that the Israeli government's decisions during the war were made "in a controlled manner. "They didn't have to make hasty decisions, as the entire situation was manageable," Yaari says. Rafael's CEO feels deep gratitude to the U.S. govern- ment for providing Israel with the funding necessary to deploy an additional four Iron Dome batteries once the first two were in place. "We should be thank- ful to the United States and the president," Yaari says. "Whenever I travel to the U.S. and meet with Congress I say, 'Thank you.' It was really life-saving, and we all have to be grateful for that. It was a special gesture, and [for those who doubt the U.S. commitment to Israel], it is wrong to downplay the effect [U.S. support] has on our defense." Since the Iron Dome is specifically geared towards countering one type of threat, Yaari says the joint U.S.-Israel David's Sling system is necessary "to intercept the cruise mis- siles, and short to medium range ballistic missiles, which are becoming more and more relevant." He says that David's Sling also has the capability to defend against "UAV's (unmanned ariel vehicles, also known as drones), jetfighters, and helicopters--any flying ob- ject within the atmosphere." Shifting the focus of the conversation to the Iranian threat, Yaari says that the current challenges posed by the Islamic Republic-- not only for Israel, but also for other countries who might be targeted--are "Iran's unlimited funding, skill sets, manpower, and huge amounts of resources which for quite some time have been directed towards defense." Yaari describes a fierce and competitive race for technol- ogy, where in the coming years he says Israel "must distince itself" from Iran by making greater military advances. He believes Israel is up for that challenge. "I think it's feasible [for Israel to outpace Iran], I really do," Yaari says. "The real problem is what eventu- ally will be translated into practice on the battlefield. In other words, how much of [Iran's] potential capabilities will we have to confront. But I believe we are capable." Hadassah From page 1A and nationally. We are both also very active in the Central Florida Texas A&M club, and the Evans high school Old- timers," Schwebel said. In her "leisure" time she keeps busy sewing and cro- cheting for the children at the Arnold Palmer Hospital and the Shrine Hospital in Mexico City. She also enjoys reading and playing the piano and spending time with her granddaughters Lauren and Emma. Schwebel joined Hadassah in 1982. She became a Life Member in 2005, joining the 90 percent of other Chap- ter members who are also Life Members of Hadassah. She has also served as card chairwoman, chairwoman of Hadassah's ceder, decorations chairwoman, recording sec- retary, and fundraJsing vice president. Rita and George Slotnick also will receive the Myrtle Wreath Award. Rita was born and raised in Philadelphia. She attended school there, and upon graduation from high school, she attended Franklin School of Science and Arts where she was trained in life sciences. She-also attended Philadelphia Community College where she majored in medical records. While in Philadelphia, she was involved in the forma- tion of a local auxiliary of the American Heart Association of Southeastern Pennsyl- vania. She participated in raising funds for the chapter, which were used to purchase and donate heart-related medical equipment to local hospitals. She assisted in conferences presenting mar- keting, introduction of new products and product presen- tations while employed at a major life insurance company. After relocating to Arizona with her husband, she was employed by the Maricopa County Medical Center as an auditor of medical record for billing purposes. Here in Florida, she was instrumental in the forma- tion of Congregation Sinai's Sisterhood in Clermont, and served as its first president. Currently, Rita is maintain- ing the yahrzeit notifications and collection of yahrzeit memorials for Congregation Sinai. She has been a life member of Hadassah for manyyears, is a Hadassah Crown of Esther, and is one of the founders of the local Hadassah Ima group in Clermont that now has reached its seventh successful year with a current member- ship of 25 men and women. She facilitates the month- ly IMA meetings at which members present their own programs. Rita's husband, George Slotnick was born and raised in Newark, N.J. He attended the city schools there and went on to Rutgers University where he earned a bachelor's degree in accounting. After military service, he returned to Rutgers and earned a mas- ter's degree in accounting. Moving to Philadelphia after his marriage to Rita, George became involved in the computer industry. He spent the next 40-plus years in various positions that include computer programmingwith a federal government agency; marketing support for the Unisys and IBM companies; manager of programmers for Maricopa County, Ariz.; assistant for programming for the Philadelphia finance department; and director of systems information for "the Philadelphia police depart- ment. During his many years of work experience, he also taught computer subjects as an associate professor for a number of colleges and uni- versities in both Pennsylvania and Arizona. He was a 40-year congre- gation member and member of the board of directors of the Oxford Circle Jew- ish Community Center in Philadelphia. George is currently in- volved with his synagogue, Congregation Sinai, where he has served as an officer and board member for many years. He also serves as a mentor to the fifth grade students at the local elementary school. His involvement in Hadas- sah started when the Cler- mont IMA group was formed. He produces the monthly newsletter and also helps coordinate the IMA Group with Rita. The Slotnicks have two daughters and four grand- children. Marcia Wasserman will be present the Woman of the Year Award this year. Wasserman was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and she at- tended Penn State University, majoring in English. Her fam- ily moved to St. Louis, Mo, where she met and married Sid Wasserman, her husband of 54 years. They have two children, Tony and Amy and two granddughters, Jacque- lyn and Nicole. Volunteerism is in her genes, having learned it at an early age from her mother. Her love for music and dance, which she translated into figure skating, also came from her mother, an accom- plished violinist. Her love of sports was instilled in her by her father and to this day she is a devoted Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but her baseball allegiance lies solely with the St. Louis Cardinals. When her children were teenagers, she returned to col- lege for a degree in studio art. During the 47 years she lived in St. Louis, she was involved in the Temple Israel Sisterhood, giving her time to the sisterhood knit shop. She worked with the Girl Scouts as a leader and board member, was an active member of the St. Louis Figure Skating Club and The Junior League. She volunteered for The Council of Jewish Women and Ronald McDonald House through Coldwell Banker. She and her husband moved to Orlando from St. Louis in 2005. She was intro- duced to Hadassah by Sandra Moss and has been an active member ever since. As an ardent proponent of women's rights, and stem-cell research, a cause that Had- dassah embraces, she finds Hadassah to be the perfect fit. Since joining Hadassah, she has worked tirelessly to promote the Orlando Chapter. She held the office of trea- surer, and is now a program vice president, as well as the bulletin editor. "Wasserman, along with Chapter president, Emily Rotenberg, did a good deal of the work on the Chap- ter directory and is preparing to publish its replacement next year. Much of her artwork can be seen on the programs, posters and signs the Chapter has used over the past eight years. She also designed the Chapter logo, which appears on the cover of the directory as well as the chapter's Brick Certificate. Marcia Wasserman has worked hard to make the bul- letin an educational, as well as entertaining, publication, presenting material that high- lights the many wonderful projects Hadassah has made available to the world through the support of its members. Rita Weissmann will be presented Hadassah's special award "Love of a Lifetime." She was born with a love and concern for Jewish causes, especially Hadassah, which she claims is imprinted in her DNA. Weissmann's first exposure to Israel came as a teen-ager, in the mid 1940s, before the creation of Israel, when she was active in soliciting and delivering much needed sup- plies for shipment to the Jews who were striving to create the new Jewish homeland. After graduating from col- lege, Rita and her husband, Robert, moved to Westchester County, N.Y., where she spent the next decades raising a fam- ily, working successfully as a theatrical costume designer, and devoting substantial time to philanthropic activities. She and three friends were the founders of the Hartsdale Chapter of Hadassah, where, over the years she served in most executive positions. In addition, Rita became in- volved in regional activities and for some time, acted as a fundraiser for the Westchester County Region. She and her husband were founding members of West- chester County's first Recon- structionist Synagogue. She was also the organizer of a group of professional danc- ers who volunteered to work at the Lexington School for the Deaf, successfully teach- ing dance to profoundly deaf children. Since relocating to Or- lando, Rita has been able to devote even more of her time to her charitable interests. Soon after her arrival in 1994, she joined the Rishona Masada Group of Hadassah (now the Orlando Chapter of Hadassah), and has been involved in many of its activities. She has been a board member for most of the time since joining, has served as fundraising vice president, as president of tlae Group, and is a Gold Keeper of the Gates. Weissmann's other princi- pal charitable interest in Or- lando has been Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, where she has volunteered in a number of roles. She and Robert have been married for 62 years, and have four children (one deceased) and seven grandchildren. Rita, her daughters, daugh- ters-in-law and granddaugh- ters are all Life Members of Hadassah, and Robert is an associate member. The Chapter invites the whole community to the Awards Brunch to honor these five Hadassah members who have worked so many years for Israel, for their communities and for Hadassah. Reservations can be made by calling Sharyn Lazar (407) 402- 2153; or Edith Schulman (407) 699-6061. The covert is $36 per person.