KFAR HARO’EH (VINnews) — There are very few people still alive who can be said to have had a crucial role in Israel’s war of independence. There are probably very few people who can claim to have blown the shofar for 82 years running. There is certainly only one person who can claim to have done both things and at the same time be the inventor of Shabbos elevators.
David Bannett, who will turn 99 in October, was born in New York and completed his first degree in maths and second degree in physics and became an expert on radar. In 1947, when he was working in an electronics company in New York, he was asked to help the Haganah learn how to use radar.
David left his lucrative job, first he taught the Haganah members the secrets of radar and then succeeded in smuggling to Israel the first radar system of the fledgling state as well as critical airplane parts. At one point he got a telephone call telling him that the FBI had gotten wind of the airplane parts and he should therefore leave America immediately. Bannet went to Paris and later to Israel where he later served as the IDF’s chief radar officer.
David’s love of electronics and Judaism led him to investigate how to fuse Halacha and technology and he invented a number of patents enabling religious people to keep mitzvot, including the Shabbos elevator which neutralizes certain automatic elevator functions and can help religious people live in high-risers. He also invented a patent allowing Kohanim to enter hospitals as well as a Shabbos telephone for hospitals and other important functions. David travelled voluntarily to many countries around the world to assist in implementing Shabbos elevators and other functions which he developed.
Amazingly, David never took out a patent on his inventions, preferring that they be used to help as many people as possible. As he modestly puts it, “Whatever I did was in honor of the Torah.”
Bannett, who was not born religious but became religious before his Bar Mitzvah, began blowing the shofar when he was 17 in 1938 and has continued ever since to blow. This Rosh Hashana will mark the 82nd time that he blows the shofar. (He says this might be a world record…). May he merit to greet the Moshiach with his shofar!