On Thursday May 19th, KKL-JNF Italy held a fundraiser gala in Milan on the 31st floor of one of the most famous towers in the city. More than 200 guests turned out for the event, including businessmen, politicians and prominent figures of the local Jewish community. Andrew Viterbi was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at the event.
Mr. Viterbi is an Italian Jew who was born in Bergamo. At the age of four, he immigrated with his family to the United States, days before the outbreak of World War II. Many years later, Viterbi developed the "Viterbi Algorithm", one of the main components in cellular phone development and WI-FI technology. Mr. Viterbi is a philanthropist and a friend of Israel.
The event included a panel discussion with the participation of Mr. Viterbi along with Pier Luigi Vercesi, the editor of Corriere della Sera’s Sette magazine, and Fiorenzo Galli, President of the Science and Technology Museum of Milan. In addition, Mr. Naor Gilon, the Ambassador of Israel to Italy, spoke and lauded KKL-JNF for its great work in Italy.
Council Member Claudia Terzi, who made a working visit in Israel this year on behalf of KKL-JNF, represented Italy’s Lombardia region. Mrs. Terzi commended KKL-JNF for its extensive activities on behalf of people and their environment. The gala event was also attended by the President of KKL-JNF Italy, Rafi Sasson.
The fundraising event was dedicated to two projects in Israel: ALUT Kfar Saba and the Israeli Air Force Airbase in Tel Nof. At the event, a significant amount of money was raised to promote these two projects.
As part of its policy to aid special populations, KKL-JNF is responsible for landscape development in ALUT's "Home for Life" for people with autism in Kfar Saba. The development will create a green and pleasant environment for the home's residents and their families, friends and visitors.
The Israeli Air Force airbase in Tel Nof has approached KKL-JNF with a request to participate in developing a leisure area for the base teams. KKL-JNF accepted the request and is currently developing a garden in the open area near the squadron residence. Work includes landscape development, tree planting, construction of a wooden deck, seating places, signs, gazebo for shade and access paths.
The company Vertical Field, which erected the vertical wall at Expo 2015, and which was one of the sponsors of the current event in Milan, committed to erecting a vertical wall at the ALUT Kfar Saba project as a donation to KKL-JNF.
Participants at the event watched two videos: one described KKL-JNF's various areas of activity for the benefit of man and the environment, while the other presented KKL-JNF's work for the benefit of special populations. The videos evoked positive responses and contributed to the success of the event.
About Andrew Viterbi
When he was just 23 years old, Viterbi helped launch the first American satellite. At 30, Viterbi re-invented computer communications and at the age of 50 he founded the empire of smartphone chips: Qualcomm.
At the age of 80, Viterbi, who is a philanthropist, donated 50 million dollars to the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, where electric engineering students will study the Viterbi Algorithm, which is included in all computer science and electronic engineering study programs throughout the world.
"I am an electrical engineer. I entered this profession at the right time, I enjoyed it very much, and I managed to contribute something. What was my contribution? A method that helps to handle background noises when there are several transmitters and also in noisy environments. I worked on it for almost 40 years. Not always with the same intensity, but both in theory and also in practice." Viterbi noted in an interview to the Israeli economic newspaper Calcalist.
Viterbi was saved from the Holocaust when his family fled Italy to the United States, merely two weeks before the outbreak of World War II. Orna Pinchi, who would later become his wife, was hidden during the war years in a monastery in Switzerland.
Viterbi's cousin married Primo Levi, so Viterbi was fortunate to read a draft version of the book "If This Is a Man", the testimony from Auschwitz of the famous author and scientist.