Monday, 29 June 2015

A Moment's Stock Check

A moment's stock check:

 A few days ago we spent some time doing a little video towards our next crowd fundraiser. We have a big job ahead of us, but doing the video I had to take note. We began all we do with ideas, skills and the space we have. We had no budget, no backing and many, many telling us to give it up and just do minimum wage work or go back to SA or go to Canada or UK. We are not yet where we want to be, but the video proves just how very far we have come.

So, even though we have not yet reached our goal, we'd like to say thank you! Thank you too all of you who have helped us get as far as we have. And to all those who say "I can't", we beg to differ. We invite you to take a look at the progress we have made as Olim with nothing and no connection and we say, well "Yes you can". How? Think of what you would really love, set yourself a goal, start where you are and take each step one at a time and each day one at a time and remember to do regular stock checks to notice the progress along the way.

I do admit that I have used my skills as an occupational therapist to begin working towards a lifelong dream. I realize that not everyone is trained as an OT and so I invite those of you who need a little help to be in touch. I do offer a service using my OT skills to help Olim to set realistic goals, to identify their dreams and to map out a path to help you to reach your dreams.  Do be in touch to schedule an appointment. If I could manage to be in Israel for over 12 years and to be working to reach my goals and dreams, so can you.

Have a blessed day everyone.

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Will Young Couples (and Others Without Their Own Homes) Ever Be Able to Own Their Own Homes in Israel? (Guest Post)

F.N.B - a friend on Facebook had the following to share regarding a new law that has just gone into effect in Israel. The law stipulates an increase in the purchase tax for real estate investors to 8%. Here's what F.N.B had to say:

Real estate purchase taxes for investors were supposed to go up to 8-10% on July 1st - but then suddenly two days ago the treasury dept changed the effective date to today causing havoc in the real estate market.

This whole tax increase thing is such BS because many of the apartments the treasury is trying to save for young couples are still not affordable to young couples making 10-15,000 ILS a month between two people.

If the goal is to help young people afford an apt then isolate apartments that suit younger people and offer incentives like 0% VAT on new projects and 0% Purchase Tax on first homes up to a reasonable threshold like 2,000,000 Shekel - better yet the government can release land for development at discounted prices and regulate the price a developer can charge on those specific projects.

Real estate is huge business for the government - 18% VAT on every new apartment sold plus 18% VAT on the cost of materials and services to build the buildings and on consulting fees like attorneys, agents, mortgages etc - plus Purchase Taxes and who pays the most in Purchase Taxes? INVESTORS - I highly doubt they think this will solve the housing crisis as much as they're hoping to gain higher tax revenues from investors.

At the end of the day - this change hurts everyone - especially young couples who can't afford to buy an apt on a 10,000-15,000 ILS a month household income - it's not enough to pay for life and save money for a 30% down payment plus expenses - and now that they still can't buy apartments, investors will pay more for these apartments and charge higher rents or not buy at all causing a rental crisis.

The winner in this game is the tax collector because once the dust settles, investors will buy and the taxes will be paid and rents will go up and nothing will change for the young people desperately trying to make ends meet.

The full article regarding the new tax can be read here: Treasury seeks instant investment property tax hike.

Welcoming Olim: Indeed, the housing crisis has become impossible to deal with for those earning minimum wage amounts, coming to Israel with no money at all, and for those just trying to get any start of life in Israel

Taxes areon the rise. Service providers (for real estate) are on the rise. Those selling are asking for more and are being able to invest further, however those who cannot make the start are left stranded. When will changes be made to assist those who have committed themselves to living in Israel and trying to make a start with limited funds? Are we encouraging others to come to Israel for the sake of convenience (everyone is doing it - you'll be okay - come on!) or are we serious enough to assist those in need of proper absorption? Where will help come from if not from those who have the ability to make real positive changes?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Genuine Creative Jewelry - Interview With a Professional Goldsmith in Israel

Welcoming Olim had the privilege of interviewing Lawrence Menachemson of Liors Fusion. Lawrence is a professional jeweler - and his work is stunning!

Welcoming Olim: Hi Lawrence! We've seen a little of your beautiful work! Can you share with us how you decided to become a jeweler?

Lawrence: I always wanted to be in the field of something creative. When I was still at school I had a friend who was studying jewelry design and manufacture. He would come and show the family what he was making. His father had passed away, and my father took it upon himself to put him through school. As a result of this, he was always coming over showing us his work.

Aside from this, I also come from a family where my father and grandfather were always making things and loved working with their hands. With all this, I made my decision to make jewelery.

Welcoming Olim: Thank you for sharing. That is very moving. Can you share a little of your training in the field?

Lawrence: I spent three years studying at technical college followed by doing my apprenticeship with three different companies over the next four years. This resulted in seven years total of study, after which I qualified as a goldsmith (a trade certificate.)

I'm not sure where my inspiration comes from, but I can say that nothing pleases me more than to take what G-d has supplied us as a natural resource and make something beautiful for someone to wear. It gives me happiness to know that a little bit of me is carried around the world for everyone to see!

Welcoming Olim: What inspired you to make Aliyah?

Lawrence: I made Aliyah in 2009. I had never left the comforts of what was home - South Africa - and the first time I left SA was to come live in Israel. I had in fact never been here before, but felt like it was my duty to come live among my people. So I left my home to come home, even though all my family and friends where still in South Africa. 

From the day I landed I felt like this was home and I finally had come home. As an aside, my late great grandfather was Israeli.

It turns out six years later I'm still here even after many years of struggling and yes, I still do struggle. Israel is not an easy place to live. It's extremely expensive and every day there is a new challenge, whether it's financial or something else; for some reason I'm still here. There are days when I think I've had enough and want to just pack it all up and go back to my family where it is more comfortable and way easier to survive, but something keeps me here. Israel is a magical place filled with a sense of belonging ...

Welcoming Olim: Did you need to learn any specific Hebrew to help you succeed in your work here in Israel? Did you need to learn terms or language that one might not learn in a regular Ulpan?

Lawrence: Hebrew is another challenge for me! I have never been a language person and even though I did Ulpan I still did not grasp the language. Six years later, and I still don't really speak Hebrew. I worked at a company for my first four years here, and learned the basic work Hebrew for my industry; but luckily for me most of my customers speak almost fluent English. I've also found that most of Tel Aviv speaks English so I have managed to get though surviving here on what little Hebrew I know.

Welcoming Olim: You mentioned you are very careful about setting honest prices. Can you tell the reader something about the pricing process and what they are getting from you? What is your experience and talent etc.? Is there something special you have designed that received award or recognition?

Lawrence: I was brought up to be a gentleman! Honest and loyal! So I use this unique quality when it comes to working with my customers. I truly believe that what comes around goes around and therefore refuse to do any wrong with customers. My prices are always based on the difficulty of the job and how long it takes me to do the job. I might be a little more expensive than some but my customers soon realize it's not the gold weight they pay for, it's a little piece of my soul they get which includes the skill, the quality, the uniqueness... When I say unique I mean it! I was born with facial palsy. The left side of my face is paralyzed. I was born like this and there is no fixing it. It is what it is. So first-impressions-people are not exactly sure how to react to me, but after a few minutes they realize I am not only different on the outside but I wear my heart on my sleeve, and inside I am warm and fuzzy!

I have 20 years of work behind me working at the bench with my hands and my mind together as one.

Welcoming Olim: Can you tell us about the school or class you are starting?

Lawrence: I have trained many students before and what usually has taken others five years to enable a student to become a goldsmith I have succeeded in three years. I've had examiners turn around to my students and tell them they best come thank me as most could not teach as well as I have taught them. Most of my apprentices have gone on to open their own jewellery businesses.

Teaching is another skill that has been passed down from my family. My mother, cousins and aunties are teachers at schools - so yet another skill I was blessed with.

Even though I was brought into this world different, Hashem gave me something most people have to work hard to get - talent, compassion, ability to take nothing and make something so beautiful and creative that people are willing to actually spend their hard earned money on. This pleases me, as I know something I created will outlive so many of us and will get passed down from generation to generation.

Welcoming Olim: Thanks Lawrence. It's really wonderful to see how much you enjoy what you do. We wish you the best of success in Israel and hope your work schedule is always full with satisfied and paying clients!

Please visit Lawrence's website and FaceBook page

If jewelry design is of interest to you, Lawrence is accepting students! The course is once a week, from 5pm - 9pm. This is a basic course for three months. For more information, please check out the schools page.

This interview is courtesy of Chessed Ve'Emet - Torah Learning Online and Acts of Kindness. Welcoming Olim is a subsection of Chessed Ve'Emet's activities.

Below are some of the stunning samples of Lawrence's work:


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