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Illustration Photo by Yael Bogen

 

In 2009, the life of Levi Felix, a young Jew of 25 and a graduate of the University of Santa Barbara, looked quite glamorous. He was the vice president of Causecast, a startup that helps not-for-profit organizations gain exposure and organize activities, he earned a handsome salary, had a fine apartment and was looking forward to seemingly limitless possibilities of advancement.

“I was one of the first employees in Causecast, which began as a small startup and grew fast into a company with a few hundred employees,” Felix told me during an interview in San Francisco. “I was in charge of the website’s design and content. Like everyone else, I worked around the clock and was connected to the Web at all times.”

If this were a more conventional success story, it would have ended like this: The company exits, Felix rakes in millions, starts his own company and lives happily ever after. But that’s not what happened.

“In 2009, on the way to the SXSW technology conference, I felt like I was about to pass out,” Felix relates. “I was working so hard that I had already become used to my body collapsing occasionally. I would go to the ER, ask for an IV and carry on. But this time, when I got to the hospital the doctors found that I was suffering from serious internal bleeding of the esophagus. If it hadn’t been discovered in time, I would have been dead within days. No one could say what had brought it on, but a few doctors said it was related to tension, improper nutrition and sleep deprivation. It’s usually said that ‘work kills you,’ but in my case I killed myself by leading a completely insane way of life.”

Brooke Dean, 30, who was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado, became Felix’s partner shortly after his hospitalization. She persuaded him to accompany her to the Burning Man Festival later that year. The thousands of participants in the event, held every year in the Nevada desert, build temporary structures and create art without the use of electricity or technology.

“We attended the festival five months after I got out of the hospital,” Felix recalls. “It was the first time I had ever felt free. Brooke and I then decided to travel around the world, and because I am from a traditional Jewish home and my brother was doing a residency in Israel, we decided to start the trip there.”

It’s amusing to think that a future history of the Slow Tech movement ? of which Felix and Dean are two unofficial representatives ? might state that it had its genesis in the Holy Land.

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source: haaretz.com /  Neta Alexander

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