A team of dancing Bukharan robots brought home honors from the 2007 RoboCup competition upon their return to Israel last month, prompting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to publicly congratulate their three teenage creators as shining examples of the country's technological superiority.

Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov, all students of the Or Avner Yeshiva High School supported in a large part by international diamond magnate Lev Leviev, won the Best Original Performance and Best Super Team awards in the Dance Challenge category of the annual international robotics competition, held this year in Atlanta.

Their robots, dressed in traditional Bukharan attire, performed to Bukharan music and participated in a choreographed wedding with teams from the U.S. and Japan.


Upon watching a demonstration of their creations' abilities, Olmert praised the students and said that "our younger generation is leading in the fields of technology and robots."

For their part, the teenagers expressed the hope to continue in their study of robotics and Artificial Intelligence technology, and to one day use their skills in the service of the Israeli Defense Force.

Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov show off one of their dancing Bukharan robots.
Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov show off one of their dancing Bukharan robots.

The Dancing Robot

The award-winning team began with Yisraelov, a 12th-grade student who created the first robot as part of a school project. It became something of an attraction among students and parents at the school's end-of-year gathering.

Or Avner's staff, applying guidance of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, who encouraged the use of technology for distinctly Jewish purposes, assisted Yisraelov and his two friends in finding a way to synthesize Judaism and their robotic creations.

Since the first robot could dance, the three came up with the idea of having it perform traditional Bukharan dance steps to Jewish music. They wanted the robot and its iterations to express a Jews' yearning for a world of peace and goodness, said the students.

Their skill and purpose so impressed the judges of this year's ORT competition in Israel, that they won the chance to compete in Atlanta.