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Ruthi Lichtenstein, age 32

Yozim Leshinuy

People are now saying to me, ‘Wow! Incredible! From the Gur community to an international competition!

Ruthi Lichtenstein, who grew up in the Gur Hasidic community and is a graduate of our Introduction to Computer Science course, recently won an international application design competition with more than 80,000 submissions!

My name is Ruthi Lichtenstein; I’m 32 years old and a former Gur Hasid. About two years ago, I joined the Introduction to Computer Science course offered by Out for Change in Tel Aviv. The patience of our teacher, Niv Danieli, our guide, and his clear explanations made me very enthusiastic about the whole field.  After the course, I enrolled in a programming course, but I soon realized this was not the right path for me.

Two more years passed in which I worked in an insanely demanding job that did not leave much time for myself or side projects. I moved up in my job and took on a role in design, and that’s where I discovered the field of product design! Design and aesthetics have been flowing in my blood for as long as I can remember. I invested months of work to develop a particular product and improve users’ learning process. I finally felt at home.

And then the pandemic started, and I lost my job. But after a short period of anxiety,  I recovered and decided to take advantage of the time suddenly given to me. I took two more courses on product design and entrepreneurship.

When I felt ready, I joined the IBM Call for Code hackathon, going full speed ahead and working 15- to 16-hour days, with minimum sleep and one meal a day in front of the computer while working. I introduced new branding, a fresh design, and a plan for how the product would work long term.

We won first place in Europe!

People are now saying to me, ‘Wow! Incredible! From the Gur community to an international competition!’ My answer is yes and no. Yes, because I did indeed come from there, and it’s crazy where I am now and hard to believe. But no, because it took a tremendous amount of work. But in the end, yes, it is possible; anyone can.

George Elliott wrote, “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”

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