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Maxim Berent

Israel Pavilion Expo 2010

Whispering Garden

Hall of Innovation



by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng. with files from the Winnipeg Jewish Review July 26, 2010

Jewish student Maxim Berent, who is the chairperson of the Cultural Committee for the Israel Pavilion at Folklorama, will be incorporating  into our community's Folklorama Paviliion some of the innovative  ideas used for  the Israel Pavilion at World Expo 2010 which opened in Shanghai China this past May. World Expo 2010 is the first time that Israel has put together a national pavilion in many years.

Berent ,a 20 year old architecture student at University of Manitoba, who has also just become the  President for Hillel at U of M,  learned from his visit to the Israel Pavilion at World Expo 2010 how the country showcased its accomplishments in science, technology, medicine and architecture. As Berent told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that his intention was to return to Winnipeg full of ideas on "how to make the Israel Folklorama Pavilion in Winnipeg better than ever."

Berent's timing couldn't have been better. Not only did  Israel put  a significant amount of time and effort into its pavilion at Expo, but  this time and effort produced results. According to the magazine China Business International published in May 2010, Israel's Pavilion was ranked number one (out of  272 Pavilions) for being  the "Most Attractive Pavilion at 2010 World Expo Shanghai." These results were tabulated according to Sohu and the official Website of Expo 2010 Shanghai China. Israel was also ranked number one for the month of June 2010.

Berent, who is Israeli, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review  that  the Israel Pavilion at  Expo was very impressive.The pavilion looked like two clasped hands, or a "seashell." An Israeli who was involved in the planning of the Israel Pavilion told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that some Chinese people think the pavillion building symbolizes the 'Ying and the Yang." One side of the building  is made of authentic stone while the other is made from transparent glass. The design symbolizes Israeli innovation and technology as well as represents the dialogue between humanity and nature, the earth and the sky, as well as the past and the future.

Berent said, “For me the Israel pavilion was the only Middle Eastern one that felt different. It combined freshness and youth with history and culture. The soft background music and the smell of the orange trees alluded to a positive and safe environment. What becomes clearly evident is that beyond being a land of milk and honey, modern Israel is a highly technological and medically advanced society.”

One of the reasons the Israel Pavilion is considered so attractive is that it is virtually the only pavilion that has a covered garden, the Whispering Garden, which enables the visitor to rest and find shade before entering the building. The Whispering Garden is an orchard that greets visitors. About 50 orange trees have been planted, and technology makes the trees "whisper" in English and Chinese when visitors walk close to them.

Inside the Israel Pavilion in Shanghai is the Hall of Innovations, symbolizing links with the earth and history, and the recycling of natural resources. As the centerpiece of the pavilion, the Hall of Innovations presents an audiovisual show which  allows  visitors to hear from Israeli children, scientists, doctors and inventors via hundreds of screens. Each light sphere represents innovation and technical breakthrough in such fields as agriculture, food, pharmacology, solar and green energy, science, music, literature, high-tech, telecommunication and security.

Berent gave the Winnipeg Jewish Review a preview of  Winnipeg's  Israel Folklorama Pavilion -Shalom Square,explaining how he has incorporated elements of the Israel Pavilion in Shanghai into it. 

“The theme of our pavilion this year is Israel’s contribution to the world.  We will showcase Israel’s contributions to the world in the 21st century which were presented in the Hall of Innovations at the Israel Pavilion in Shanghai. Visitors in Shanghai and in Winnipeg will realize that Israel is a model for innovation, technological advancements and has the vision for a better, more efficient quality of life,”  Berent said.

The Israel Pavilion will run from August 8 to August 14 at the Asper Jewish Community Campus.

Berent  added, “We will host over 10,000 visitors at the Israel Pavilion at Folklorama. Our mission is to acquaint people with accurate facts and fascinating information about Israel.”

In addition to experiencing Expo, Berent also met with the Jewish community in Shanghai. “During my visit I  went for a Shabbat dinner at the one of the historical synagogues in China. Ohel Rachel synagogue was built in 1917 and was the center for Jewish people for many years until it was converted to a warehouse by the Chinese government. During World Expo 2010, the synagogue is open to the Jewish community for Shabbat services 2 days a week. Hopefully, this is just the beginning,” Berent said. 

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