Meet Israeli TEDx organizer Liran Michaeli & Hebrew TED Translator Tal Hemo

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For our first interview of the new year, we spoke with Hebrew-language TED Translators Liran Michaeli and Tal Hemo, both of whom hail from Israel and have been spearheading the growth of the burgeoning Hebrew translation community there. Read on to learn more about these dynamic translators and their current and upcoming projects.


Let’s start with the gathering that recently took place in Israel, which you both attended. How did the idea for it originally come about? What were the event’s goals?

Liran: Tal and I first met at TEDSummit 2019, and our introduction was one of the initial sparks for the event in Israel. Amid the amazing opportunity to meet many TED Translators from various other countries at the summit, I learned that Tal is a fellow Hebrew translator who, at the time, was translating TED Talks simply because of her passion for translation and sharing novel ideas; she wasn’t aware of the numerous TED gatherings frequently happening in Israel. As a TEDx organizer, I immediately realized that Tal would be a tremendous asset for both the Hebrew translation community and local TEDx events.

Our meeting also made me wonder how many other TED Translators like her there are in Israel—translators who contribute to and deeply value TED’s mission, but who aren’t aware that they can get involved with TED in tons of ways beyond translating. Thus our recent event, the goal of which was to reach out to active and potential members of Israel’s TED community and present them with various ways to further TED’s mission: translation, organizing TEDx events, introducing TED-Ed to schools.

Tal: As Liran said, he and I met at TEDSummit 2019, and that’s when I discovered how many other opportunities there are to contribute to TED in addition to translating. I also learned how huge and yet close-knit the global TED community is, so I made it my goal to essentially put faces to the names I interact with online every day; that’s a main reason why I participated in the gathering Liran recently helped organize.

What a wonderful connection to make! How many people were in attendance at the gathering? Has either of you planned any future meetups with new contacts yet?

Liran: More than 20 people attended. However, we expect the number of participants to grow as we put on more TEDx events and work to cultivate a larger community. I’ve personally made a lot of TED contacts thanks to gatherings like the one that just happened. Also, our language community now has a Facebook group that people are continually joining; there are almost 50 members so far. I’m confident that, with time, our community will not only grow, but we’ll better develop, clarify and accomplish our goals, too.

Tal: Several TEDx organizers approached me at the event in Israel, and we had a very fruitful discussion about TED Translators—how the program can bolster their gatherings and vice versa.

How can those TED Translators who’d like to join the Facebook group do so?

Liran: Just search for “TED in Israel Community” on Facebook and you’ll find us right away. Anybody can join, and I’ll approve your request to do so myself!

Can you tell us a bit about the Hebrew translation community? Is it largely centered in Israel? Are there active hubs, if you will, in other regions of the world?

Liran: Hebrew is mostly spoken in Israel and not very much outside of the country, so our translation community is, you could say, centered here. As of now, there are roughly two dozen active TED Translators in Israel; but as I said earlier, I expect that number to increase as we stage more events and continue to put TED and TED Translators on more peoples’ radars.

Tal: Israel has the largest population of Hebrew speakers in the world, so the Hebrew translation community is indeed centered here. The language was revived in the 19th century, and today there are only 5 million native speakers—which makes our task of preserving Hebrew all the more vital.

What upcoming events does the Hebrew translation community have planned?

Liran: I’m happy to report that I’m currently organizing multiple TED-related gatherings in Israel. These events are meant to be as inclusive as possible, so if anybody reading this interview would like to participate in one or all, please feel free to do so! There’s amazing potential for innovation at these gatherings.

And finally: Do you have any advice for new TED Translators?

Liran: Connect with TEDx organizers in your area. Since most usually aren’t aware of your translation work, I strongly recommend reaching out to them and offering to translate talks from their events. This can go a long way toward forging an ongoing working relationship between TED Translators and TEDx organizers, a collaboration that will undoubtedly yield benefits for everybody involved.

Tal: Reach out to other TED Translators. It’s easy to get stuck behind the computer and forget that translating TED Talks is a team effort. Try to find a fellow translator or translators with whom you can tackle translation difficulties together.