In Moldova, Jewish Values in Action for All

The Jewish community of Kishinev, Moldova has experienced a renaissance in recent years, and they are now using that resurgence in Jewish life and reconnection to Jewish identity to spread Jewish values locally and globally.

With a stand-out Jewish volunteer organization and social service platform that has been recognized by the Moldovan government, they were well positioned for this next effort: participating in the community’s first TOM Makeathon.

Brought in by the local Jewish community – with support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which helps revitalize Jewish life and aid needy Jews in the country – the TOM Makeathon is part of a global movement that unites “makers” – designers, inventors, developers, engineers, programmers – with “need-knowers” – people from vulnerable groups – to create solutions for people with various physical restrictions or health conditions. It is part of TOM Israel, a start-up from the Reut Group, an innovative policy and strategy group working to positively impact the lives of people worldwide.

“Being the first Jewish community in the FSU to organize a TOM Makeathon, we were so excited to join its global efforts and be at the forefront of innovation for helping the most vulnerable,” said Alla Bolbochanu, JDC’s representative in Moldova. “For us, Jewish identity is in the doing, the actions we take every day to help our fellow Jews, build our community, and reach out to our neighbors in need.”

Two teams, one Jewish and one non-sectarian, came together for the event. One of the teams, made up of Jewish high school students, developed a smart t-shirt for those in need of constant health monitoring. The device measures and sends information about a person’s vitals including body temperature, body position (if the person is on his feet or fell down), and can track a person`s location. The t-shirt is connected with a mobile app and a website, which were also created by the teens. The other team created a robo-prothesis for someone with amputated upper limbs.

“Participating in this event was such a wonderful experience and gave me new insights into what it means to be Jewish. It was so amazing to work on something that not only excites me personally, but also has the potential to really make a difference in the world,” said Sandu Chirita, an event participant from the local Jewish school. “We are very grateful to everyone who helped organize this Makeathon, I am already looking forward to participating in the next TOM event.”

Both teams received a grant to finalize the prototypes of the devices, after which the solutions will be made available and free for use around the globe through tom’s open makers market.

The program was set up with the help of partner organizations including JDC’s RVC volunteer center, JCC Kedem, Fablab Chisinau & Tekwill