CJN Article: "Searching for the next Einstein"

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Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU) are hoping their contest will bring out Canadians’ inner Albert Einstein.

Rami Kleinmann“We’re living in a world where people are sometimes too hesitant to express their ideas or points of view,” said Rami Kleinmann, president and CEO of CFHU. “We want to create the environment for people to not be too concerned or shy or afraid to let their mind flourish.”

That’s the concept behind their new contest, Searching for the Next Einstein, in which participants will submit 300-word outlines of their best idea to improve the world.

The competition comes with a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to present the idea in June at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. The conference, created by Israeli President Shimon Peres, brings together experts in various fields from around the world, including this year’s guests, former American president Bill Clinton and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Kleinmann said he felt the Einstein contest was a natural fit for a conference that honours great thinkers and leaders.

Contest entries are not limited to ideas in the field of science. Albert Einstein, who was one of Hebrew University’s founders, was a great thinker in so many aspects of life, such as arts and philosophy, so the idea can improve any aspect of the world.

Submissions will be posted online for a popular vote, and they will also go through a panel of judges. The entry with the highest points from both the online voting and the judges will be the winner.

The panel of judges consists of experts in a variety of fields, which will allow them to consider entries from these various areas of study. Nobel laureate Robert Kornberg is the chairman of the judging panel, which consists of seven judges all of whom have a connection to Hebrew University, either as alumni, scholars or scientists.

The fact that so many major corporations are sponsoring the contest means it could reach 25 million people, said Miriam Pilc- Levine, national director of communications and marketing for CFHU. She believes it may be the largest outreach campaign ever done on behalf of a Jewish organization.

“It’s exactly symbolizing that when you come up with a good project and exciting message, you can get a support even if there’s a big Israeli stamp on it,” Kleinmann said, explaining that most of the sponsors are not specifically Jewish or Israel-focused. “We get support from everybody.”

The contest ends on April 22, which is also Earth Day. Kleinmann said this date was picked because they wanted to counter the fact that so many people spend the days outlining the negativity and problems of the world.

Instead, they hope to give a positive spin to the environment-awareness day, to show how people love the world and want to improve it, Kleinmann said.

Anybody can enter the contest, since a brilliant idea can hit a person at any point in his or her life, he added.

The fact that so much innovation has come out of Israel, despite it being surrounded by enemies and facing years of war, is something that should encourage people, he said.

“If Israel can reach all the achievements in [so many] fields, there’s no reason the individual... can’t make a substantial contribution to
the world.”

For more information about the contest, visit http://www.searchingforeinstein.org.

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CFHU is dedicated to supporting IMRIC through direct funding and by developing key collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada
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