Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Need Employment? Enjoy Photography? Become a Professional Stock Photographer

You may have noticed that our blog is all about helping new Olim in a variety of ways.

Most importantly we want to see every single Oleh with an appropriate and acceptable Parnassah (livelihood.) There is no reason whatsoever for any Jew to leave Israel on account of Parnassah problems. However, many people find it difficult to obtain a proper job or find work. They may forget that everybody is able to make a living by themselves even without a formal 7am-8pm job six and a half days a week. In fact, very often life in Israel demands that one begin to use one's personal skills in different ways to earn a living. Relying on a job situation - that often fails to pay one's salary for months on end can end up costing one a lot more than one might think.

For this reason, we are opening up the channels and offering Olim a unique course giving them the ability to earn a livelihood by themselves. The great thing is that if they enjoy photography - they'll also be able to enjoy making a living - be creative and have fun!

Here's our offer to you. If it measures up to what you may enjoy doing, we would be delighted to help give you the tools to become more involved in using photography as a way to earn a living in Israel - and all around the world:

Do you enjoy nature and people? Do you want to learn how to use your digital camera and use it to make money?! 

If you enjoy photography and are looking for the edge in being able to photograph a quality image and be able to actually make some money from it, you'll enjoy our forthcoming course!

Course includes:
  • An afternoon out in nature where you'll get to learn how to use your digital camera, become aware of composition, exposure, focus and light.
  • An evening together where we will be critiquing each other's images with a view to understanding what makes a quality stock (and other) image.
  • A few hours together learning about some basic photo editing techniques. How to make your image sparkle a little more after it's been taken.
  • A few hours devoted to understanding how the stock photo sites work, which are best for you, how you can submit your images, and actually earn income from them.
  • A few hours devoted to feedback as we get to understand why your images were accepted – or why they were not.

You can turn your hobby into a profession and limit your income only by the lack of your own initiative.

This is a professional course being offered to serious students only. Ideally suited for beginner and intermediate level photographers.

For further info on costs and dates, please contact Eliyahu of Shear Success Photographers.

The Heat in Israel. Drinking - and the Water of Israel

If you're living in Israel and have come from the place known as "Sunny South Africa" – you may find yourself in for a big surprise when it comes to the sun. While the general sun of Sunny South Africa is usually a pleasant warmth, the sun in Israel can often be extremely hot. The heat can in fact be a rather unusual one and carries with it certain features that are not common in normal heat. Often one is "blessed" with that heat-wave known as a Chamsin (meaning literally heat-wave.) 

Dehydration can be a common thing for those not paying attention to the need to drink. Not just to drink normally – but often a little abnormally too. One needs to make sure that there are plenty of fluids in the body in the heat of Israeli weather conditions.

Everyone knows about the importance of drinking in those conditions that necessitate it. But I'd like to highlight something additional in this post, and this concerns the water that is drunk in Israel.

In South Africa, it is quite normal to drink ordinary tap water. In Israel, there is a lot of additional "limescale" (see previous post, Household Tip – Cleaning Kettles.) In fact, this makes the water very harsh. The best way to find out just what real Israeli tap water looks like is to insert a tap filter around the tap itself and use the water this way. After about a month, take off the filter and look inside to see what has gathered there. Don't be shocked! Just realise that without a suitable (professional!) filter, you're going to be putting this into your body. Another way of seeing just how hard the water is, is by not cleaning your sink or bathtub very well. After just a short period of time, you'll notice your basins looking quite dirty. Don't worry – this is not actual dirt, it's the hardness of the water "eating" at the basin. You'll find that the toilet bowls begin to turn brown as well, and it takes much experience to know exactly how to clean them well.

As a side point, you may also find your kettle gathering heaps of additional lime at the bottom of the kettle after a number of uses. It actually becomes quite thick and you'll want to clean out your kettle regularly and appropriately to make sure that grime does not end up being a part of your daily coffee!

Back to the water, this hard water is difficult on the stomach of many, especially Olim Chadashim. If you're looking for a healthy water, like other Israelis you can choose to install a professional water filter system on your tap – which can cost quite a sum! If you're leasing your apartment, it won't be easy to do either, as you'll often end up leaving the entire filter system with the landlord when you leave (having now officially given him/her a parting gift!) – or incurring some expense to remove the filter and restore everything to its original condition.

On the other hand, you can do what many others do – and drink the spring waters which are easily available in the supermarkets (Makoliyot.) You can buy them in a variety of sizes. If you're looking to save money, you'll get them in packages of 6 bottles to a container. Each bottle usually contains 1.5-2 litres of water. If you look for the specials, you can end up saving a lot!

There is one important caution that must be pointed out here. There is actually a danger in becoming too used to these waters. In fact, drinking too much of them can cause you to… DEHYDRATE!

There's "the small print" on every bottle which subtly tells the buyer to beware – you can dehydrate drinking me! This is the sodium content which is in almost every case an absolute minimum. You'll notice the words "Dal Nitran" written on the bottle. Dal=Low, Nitran=Sodium. Those words are present for a good reason! They're actually a warning of what might be in store if you don't take precaution. It is this that causes the dehydration problem. Ask any GOOD doctor about this point, and they'll warn that drinking too much of this spring water can add to one become more thirsty, drinking more and dehydrating from the water! If you are prone to low blood pressure or blood sugar, this fact is especially important. (This point has been personally observed and proven together with the good doctor's advice!)

How does one overcome this drinking problem (a drinking problem all of its own!)? One must include a variety of drinks in one's diet throughout the day. Some good fruit juices, together with the water, and perhaps even with a little bubbly and gassy drink (cola or the like) can actually help in restoring the body to the condition it needs to be in, in order to counteract the extreme heat and dehydration problems.

We'll be talking more about "drinking-substitutes" in a later post.

Note: This post reflects the personal opinions of the author and does not necessarily indicate normative medicine or normal medical practice. Should you be faced with an issue of overheat and dehydration, please consult your personal doctor for appropriate advice. 

In addition, don't forget, you will need to find out how much you should be drinking for your system. You need a lot of liquid but too much is equally as dangerous.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

How to Fix Israeli Shutters (Trissim) - Part 1

If you're new to Israel – the word Tris will already be a familiar one. Plural – Trisim, refers to those "wonderful" Israeli shutters that come standard on every apartment. Granted, they may not look as fancy as those shown in the picture of this post, but they seem to do the job…

If you've lived in your apartment for more than six months, you'll also know that those shutters can start wearing out. In fact, there are many tenants that will be shouted at and insulted at the moment they break (a perfectly normal thing to happen!) For those not too "good with their hands" – you may find yourself with a headache on your hands!

This is how it all works, and what you need to know about Trisim:

Continue Reading...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Rachem, The Song - An Appeal to Hashem to Restore the Holy Temple

As we prepare for Shabbat, let us remember the Holy Temple. In the YouTube below we see an appeal to Hashem to have mercy on us and restore the Temple to it's rightful place.

This beautiful video shows unity of Jewish boys and men, davening and singing next to the Kotel.

Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael URGENTLY needs more tefillos, more Tehillim, unity. We are calling on Jewish women to unite each Shabbat from wherever you are during daylight hours through the reciting of Tehillim. Please follow this link to our website to sign up and join. Already we have over 120 Jewish women in Israel, USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia involved in this group. We are striving for 1000 Jewish women. Please help us reach this target and then go beyond so that ALL Jewish women will unite through reciting Tehilim for Am Yisrael.

May we enjoy the re-built Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash in all its glory, even before Shabbat. 

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

WIN: Your Chance to Win Free Advertising on This Blog!

If you are a South African who values the Land of Israel and values those South Africans who make the decision to live in Israel – then we have a special offer for you.

We are committed to sharing information via our blogs and web sites for the entire purpose of uniting South Africans who are thinking of making Aliyah or who have already made Aliyah.

Thousands have already benefited from reading the articles posted on our blogs, have made new contacts, new friends, received assistance and have gained in finding out invaluable information about living in Israel.

If these are the type of people you want to attract to your business, then do email Shoshanah or Eliyahu with a brief description of your business and any support that you may wish to offer Olim at this stage or in the future.

You'll notice a graphic image on the top right side of our Welcoming Olim Blog stating "Your Advert Here." We are offering the first FOUR lucky businesses replying to this, the opportunity to advertise in this space for one week free of charge! 

Businesses must:
  • Be owned by a South African Jew (living in SA or Israel)
  • Conform to Torah law
  • Supply own graphic with link to email / web site
  • Share a brief statement indicating their support to those taking the challenge to live in Israel
  • Share their impressions regarding the blog and networking Ning.
  • Be prepared to have these impressions posted as part of a blog post (whether they win or not)
  • Must be a member of the South Africans in Israel Ning
  • Must be a member of the South Africans in Israel Job Exchange Yahoo group
Best entry receives an additional week free advertising!

Competition ends 23 June 2010.

Take a part in the next biggest venture in networking South Africans in Israel. Make your company a part of this project and show your support for Israel and for those courageous enough to make the move, settle the land and pave the way for future South African Jews to be able to make Aliyah with ease and success!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Purity with Dignity - Featured in "Living Jewish"

Nechama was recovering from a severe work-related injury that transformed ordinary activities into formidable challenges. The nature of the injury and precautions set up by doctors in the first few weeks prevented her from bending over, and minor errands were a huge undertaking. As she marked her calendar, Nechama viewed the special date with trepidation; how would she be able to prepare properly for her immersion in the mikveh while her body was frequently riddled with pain and constant dizzy spells? She did not want to faint in the water.

It is said that anyone who strives to purify herself is given assistance from Above. Nechama explained carefully her needs to her mikveh attendant, and they were like angels in disguise checking on her and helping wherever necessary. In addition to the attention and care she received with her preparations, Nechama discovered that someone had generously covered her mikveh fees. Since her temporary disability had rendered her unable to work, Nechama’s heart was warmed by such consideration and said she was grateful that her name didn’t have to be written in the mikveh ladies thick notebook of debts.

Rabbi Eliyahu Shear and Shoshana Shear with rabbinical approval and Hallachic guidance of Rabbi Fishel Jacobs started the organization “Purity with Dignity” to assist women who cannot pay their fees for the mikveh. While a mikveh fee might seem like a minor amount of money, the sad fact is that there are women who have to scrimp on food choices for their families to pay for their monthly trip to the mikveh, and their debts can quickly pile up. When the Shears raised the 800 shekel to cover one woman’s substantial debt, the mikveh lady confessed that Purity with Dignity had done a chesed not only for the woman, but for the mikveh lady, who felt a stabbing pain in her heart at the thought of reminding a poor woman that she had outstanding debts.

As a spin off of Purity with Dignity, the Shears started the organization “Bayit Chadash” providing basic items for needy Kallahs, along with a package of necessities for a woman’s first trip to the mikveh. Rabbi Jacobs commented; “The Shears are not only helping defray immersion related costs, they are literally making embarking into a life of marriage not something to dread. Rather into that special dream it is meant to be.” If you would like to make a contribution, please visit http://torahonline.weebly.com/baal-teshuva-mitzvah-fund.html
Miriam Metzinger, miriammetz@gmail.com

--- This article was published on Living Jewish

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Some Medication "Substitutes" in Israel – For Colds and Flu

Our previous post took a look at some food substitutes for those people coming from South Africa to Israel. Our focus was on chocolates. Adjusting to new products is not easy. Those making Aliyah may often be found the night before the "big trip" packing additional items they're used to, just so they'll have enough stock to keep going for a while. I think it has something to do with getting used to a particular brand. Then, even the taste of the country itself seems to stick and one imagines that they'll never be able to find anything similar anywhere else in the world. The truth of course, is that while there are some products that seem to have a unique attraction, if one looks around hard enough – one is bound to find something similar – no matter where one finds oneself in the entire world.

The Torah teaches that though there are non-Kosher animals which are forbidden to be eaten, G-d created everything with its exact counterpart. This means that though a Jew may not be permitted to eat certain animals, there are in fact other animals with the exact same taste as these forbidden ones. It may take some work in finding them – and presumably one would never know that they taste the same (because one probably never had them before!) but still, one should never feel that one has lost out, as there are indeed other animals that taste exactly the same.

So, it takes some getting used to – and a good friend who is already familiar with old brands and tastes and now knows the "newer" one's, is a great source to ask in order to find out everything one needs to about similar tasting products. We'll be talking more about further food products in coming posts. Today we're going to take a look at something more important. Medication!

Let me just say clearly that this post (as are most) is about my own personal findings. I'm not a doctor, and naturally if you find yourself in need of medication, please do not rely on these findings. They are simply things that I have tried with amazing success!


Let's begin with the general headache. In South Africa, I remember the famous Panado, a more general choice of tablet that helps alleviate the pain. If you're looking for the Israeli substitute, you may find it in a product known as Acamol.


Acamol is good for general aches as above, but what about when one has a cold and needs something a little stronger? Acamol make a product called "Acamol Tsinun" (or "Acamol Cold"). It comes in a couple of versions. The most well known is a box of 21 tablets broken up into 14 "day" pills and 7 "night" pills. I've always been used to taking Degoran to help through those fluey days. Having spoken to a few doctors about it, they have looked at me like I was crazy. I've even shown them the box and they're quite amazed to see the possibility of such a medication (often thinking I'd been having them on!)

When I started getting colds in Israel I didn't know where to turn to. Fortunately someone along the way introduced me to Acamol Tzinun, and I've never looked back. One takes the day pills 2-3 times per day and a night pill to help one sleep better. I've found them a great source of help.


Sore throat? You can get the well known Strepsils in Israel – though I've found them quite expensive! One wonders why nobody ever suggests the easily available "Ricola" lozenges which one can get hold of directly from the average Makolet (grocery store.) They come in a variety of flavours, cost a third of the price of Strepsils (at about 10-12 shekels a box) and tend to last long enough to make it through the healing of one cold. One flavour comes with vitamin C as well (though I would not consider it nearly enough!) These lozenges contain a Rabbanut Hechsher as well and seem quite popular with many.

Stay tuned as we continue with suggestions on substitutes in further posts. Let us know if you've tried something that's worked for you. Many "newbies" find themselves at a loss when it comes to finding products suited to them and they're afraid to even begin asking for what they want. If you've met with success with something, share it with us so that we can share it with everyone else too!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Product Substitutes in Israel - Chocolate Substitutes for SA Chocolate

Coming from South Africa to Israel, as I'm sure is the case with arriving from any other country – one encounters a variety of new products that one is not used to. In South Africa for example (especially as the Beit Din permit milk which is not Chalav Yisrael), the variety of chocolates available is phenomenal! One can truly get used to the wonderful tastes out there! But it's not just chocolates that change. One has to get used to new chips and new condiments. Medications are different (though they perform the exact same function!) Meats and meat cuts (though the animals are the same) are packaged differently and even have different names!

Where does one turn to for help on choosing those products that have some sort of similarity – or better yet – are even better?! Of course, the best way is one's own personal trials. Sometimes you'll find yourself up against the "secret sects of Israel." These are people who, though they know the different substitutes, will not reveal the full truths – leaving you back to square one, working your way through trial and error at finding those products that have similar tastes that you were once used to.

I'd like to share my own impressions of some wonderful products I've come across in Israel. In all honesty, I've found many of these to be at the very least as good as the South African counterparts, and at best – even better! You're welcome to give them a try on your own and make your own comparisons. I do hope though that by sharing these, it will help you to see that by living in Israel, so long as one keeps one's eyes and ears open – one can find that there are indeed quality substitutes. Again, some of these are even better!

Let's look at my favourite! Chocolate! We need sweet things to help us through those moments when things just don't seem to be moving as they should. 

Here are some chocolates I remember back in SA, and the substitutes I've found. You're welcome to send me your own feedback and your own comparisons.

Tex: Don't feel bad, you can get Psak Zman (Time-Out) here! Recently they came out with a 60% cocoa version which I must say more than makes up for any taste of Tex I could ever remember!

Kit Kat: Memories! In Israel you can enjoy Kif Keif (Fun-Fun). It looks almost identical and really tastes good enough to make one forget the good old times!

Flake: Now here's a product those who've eaten it can't forget! In Israel you can get Mekupelet (Folded Over.) It looks the same, has a "similar" taste though it lacks the crumble effect the original Flake has!

Did you know that in Israel you can get some of the most wonderful tasting Swiss chocolates – with some of the best Hechsheirim in the world?! If you're looking for quality chocolates, you won't go hungry in Israel with the variety of Rosemary flavours available. They're not cheap (at around 10 shekel a slab) – but purchasing these same products in SA at Pesach time can cost more than R30 a slab! You've got a big win here!

Then of course there's Torino. I don't know how one compares the taste of this chocolate, but being another Swiss chocolate, you won't be disappointed!

Incidentally, all the above chocolates are Chalav Yisroel – meaning that the milking was supervised by a Jew and obtained the highest standards of Kashrut!

One of the really great things in Israel is the availability of Parev chocolates – those that do not contain milk – which means you'll be able to always enjoy a sweet taste after your meals. I remember at one stage that Beacon in SA came out with a special Pesach edition of Parev chocolates which was terrific! In Israel you won't lose out on Parev chocolates with the assortment of tasty chocolates available. Elite produce a pretty good slab, and have recently introduced a 60% cocoa version which is simply irresistible!

We've taken a look at some chocolate substitutes for today. It should be enough to keep you excited about the availability of sweet things in Israel – and to know that you won't be losing out in the world of sweets!

Do you love Swiss chocolates? Did you know that they're easily available in Israel too? If you've had difficulty finding them, contact us directly, and we'll point you in the right direction!

In further posts, we'll take a look at medications, condiments, juices, chips, beverages, coffees, biscuits, meats (and cuts) and much more! So stay tuned. If you're wondering about the substitutes of a product you are used to in SA, do email us and ask about it. We would love to work on finding out more as to what is most similar – if not better – and to let you know that there are some great products in Israel.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Citizens vs. the Cell Phone Companies

The question is not: CAN you fight the system? Rather: Do you HAVE to fight it? The answer: Absolutely NOT! Join them instead.

I know how difficult it is for an Israeli native to understand what these companies “really offer” and how impossible it is for an English speaking native (as a new immigrant) to do so. I know how hard it is to understand the contract with its dozens of complicated clauses. Let me clarify this point: I do not know a single lawyer who was not personally involved in writing these contracts and who can explain what is actually in them.

The only people who know the system, and therefore the contract, are those very few lawyers working with the company, assisted by the very best specialists from the cell phone companies. My very simple advice: Don’t even try to understand.

There is another way. The next time you decide to join a new cell phone company, follow these very simple guidelines:

1. Ask the representative to answer any questions you may have in his own handwriting. Yes, he will write down the price of the phone if you purchase one, and any other information you need or ask, therefore: Ask lots of questions.

2. Don’t ask him to sign – this will set off an alarm inside him. When you have finished, write his full name on the page he has written on as well as when and where you met him. Keep this document in a safe place - just in case.

3. Don’t be tempted! Never buy a phone from a cell phone company. You can buy them abroad and “open” them here for a very small fee. You can buy them here privately with no need for a “plan”. Use your own phone and resist the temptation to accept “a free phone”!

4. Remember: A plan is a long term commitment! Take your time, go home and think about it. That`s right: Go home - don’t make any decisions under pressure.

5. Check and double check the numbers they have given you. When the company offers something for free, beware!! Red lights should be flashing in your head. There are no “free meals”.

6. If you are told it is “not possible”, this should also place you on alert. Everything is possible. Ask the representative to check with his superior. Tell him what you have asked is a critically important issue to you, and that they will need to reconsider their response if they want your business. Please don’t get me wrong here: Everything is possible when it makes “good business sense for both parties”.

7. Never take seriously any promises of “future reimbursement”. These are very “tricky”. Watch out! Whatever they give you is for now only. If you get promised anything in the future, make sure they give you the promise on the spot and in writing!

8. When a technical representative tells you that the hands free telephone installed in your car by the old company will work with the new one, make sure you check that it really does. Frequently there are compatibility issues and they do not automatically work. Make sure you negotiate that any changes required to your existing car installation are handled free of charge by your new supplier and get them to confirm this in writing.

9. If offered an extra “SIM card” you don’t need it. Never – that`s right, never take one. If it gets lost at any time in the future you will be held responsible for the bills. These bills are generally for thousands of dollars. If the card is stolen or lost it will find its way very fast to the territories and they will use it and abuse it – and you will end up having to pay the bill.

10. Try not to “join any kind of group” even if it’s tempting to do so because the rates are cheaper.

11. If you are self employed ask to be a “lakuach iski” – a “business client”. These types of clients have a few more advantages, such as faster service, etc.

12. The so called “no plan” cards: big talk or “talkman” are very inexpensive and there is no need to buy a phone or a plan. Although the phone calls are outrageously expensive, they still may be the best for you. If you don’t make many phone calls and you mainly receive phone calls, it may be better to consider this kind of “no plan” card.

13. If you have any doubt about the quality of signal you may have where you live, ask about the specific area. If the answer is not perfectly clear, please reconsider buying from this company. There are areas in which this or that company may have a very weak signal. Don’t buy from them because it doesn’t matter what they offer; after you start having problems, it will be difficult to resolve the issue.

Should you find yourself in a situation in which you feel you were misguided, wrongly informed and the price you are paying is not even near what they told you: Fight them with the document (bearing the sales representative`s name) you have.

Go to the small claims court. The judge will be very sympathetic to your cause based on the guidelines I`ve provided on this site on how to write a simple claim. Don’t try to explain the contract and the contradictions in it. Remember that the honorable judge is very probably another frustrated client of one of these companies.

Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law
Tzvi Szajnbrum can be reached via his website

FREE Wedding, Chalukah, & Barmitzvah Portrait Photography

You've asked for it – and now you've got it!

Shear Success Photographers – leaders in Simcha and nature photography are offering a ten day special, starting TODAY and ending Sunday 19 June:

Bring yourself, your family or your friends to a beautiful park in Beitar Illit with any special props you'd like with you, and we will photograph a series of quality portrait images for you to take home on a CD (provided by yourself.) Images will not be printed, but you will have your CD for life (or until you lose it!)

We also offer photographs at a location convenient to you. Free offer will apply to the shooting of the images, but not for transport and call-out costs. For unique specials on Simcha photography, Shear Success also offers images at cost price (terms & conditions apply together with a compulsory meeting in person.)

For more information and to book your FREE session contact Eliyahu 052-767-7073 / Shoshanah 052-767-7074 (between 9am-5pm every day excluding Erev Shabbat when calls are not taken.)

Preview some of our sample albums.

Do you have a service
and are willing to give it over to other Olim at a discounted rate?
Let us know and we will feature you on our blog.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Household Tip - Cleaning the Kettle from Limescale

The water in Israel is said to be hard to very hard. A strange concept for a liquid. I am not sure how a fluid equals hard but there you have it. Actually the water does contain certain minerals including calcium and magnesium, it also has certain chemicals added to it. 

Calcium crystallizes into hard stone (calcite) at temperatures above 57º C, and is better known as limescale. Why is this fact important to Olim?

The effects of limescale are of practical importance.

Have you ever noticed that the sinks if left develop a brownish tinge? A negel vasser (washing cup) if not cleaned regularly develops a grey to brown ugly look to it. The inside of a kettle develops a sediment that does not taste pleasant and if you pour the end of the water from the kettle, the result is white flakes in your cup of tea / coffee or other hot drink. Other pipes, washing machines, faucetes even our washing becomes affected by the hard water, especially the limescale.

To assist with much of this problem, many will install a filter to their pipes, under the sink. I am not an expert on water filters. However, I would like to share here a useful tip regarding your kettle.

Check the inside of your kettle regularly. When you notice a sediment forming, place a tea spoon of "evental" אבנטל into hot to nearly boiling water and the sediment will fizzle and dissolve. You can then pour out the water and start a fresh with a nice clean kettle.

This product is great and a must for any Israeli kitchen. It can also be used to clean irons, washing machines and dishwashers. It is inexpensive and found in a regular supermarket.

Networking - Making it Happen for Yourself

Coming from South Africa, my posts may tend to be biased in the direction of helping SA Olim, though I believe that the principles involved are the same for everyone. Personally, I am always happy to hear from other Olim wanting to learn the ropes a little better – and if they feel that a service we are offering to South Africans can benefit them as well, we can certainly talk about accommodating their needs too. There are of course major organisations helping those from the USA and Canada etc.  It's just that the personal touch never hurt anyone!

We have three amazing platforms set up for South Africans who have already made Aliyah. These platforms are available to those who have not yet made Aliyah as well, and they are welcome to get started with all of them. They include this blog, a Yahoo group and a much fuller network platform to express themselves on much more further.

But so what?! There are many who are seeking some assistance. Much like a person drowning in the sea and the lifeguard throws a lifejacket into the water and the person continues to shout out for help. Of course, if he's not prepared to grab the lifejacket in front of him, he's not going to be saved, no matter how much he shouts out about his difficult predicament.

Making it happen is about the real effort necessary by each one of us in reaching out to where that lifejacket is located at that point of time. Each of us is in fact a lifejacket for another in some way or another. That is the greatest advantage of networking. There are plumbers and electricians, doctors, lawyers and accountants. There are millions of skills available to each of us. When we see what we can offer others – and let them know about it, and when we reach out letting others know what we need – we stand a greater chance of getting what will help us both in the end.

Our Ning is growing – thank G-d! And our Yahoo group is moving forwards too. If you are a South African and you're still struggling to settle in Israel – is there something you are missing? Something that can make the difference of you making it here? Do you have a skill to offer that others don't yet know about? Do you need a loan or some other assistance? Perhaps you need a car?! Do you need help with Bitach Leumi or your Kupat Cholim? Are you having a difficulty with some aspect of the law? If you are, and you have not yet taken a part in our networking opportunities – then you're missing out.

These platforms are there as lifejackets for us all. There's no need to feel shy. For those who feel they can't bring themselves to let others know about their personal situations, we would be happy to undertake to act as a go-between in letting others know of your difficulty – with the hope of finding a caring soul out there who can help. Of course, everything comes from G-d… but being in touch with people who will formally hand over the help we actually need in a natural way is what is going to make things actually happen in this physical world.

This blog is just as much your platform as it is ours. If you have a story to share to inspire others, or it's a story that explains your struggle, use it as a way to let others know the truth and what is needed. Already one person has shared his own story and struggle in Israel. In it he teaches us that there is a lack of mutual assistance. We learn that things don't simply flow in Israel. But he also teaches us that it's worth living here because the blessings far outweigh these difficulties. Nevertheless, there's no need to finding oneself in a suffering situation – or a situation that makes one consider returning to one's "home country". Indeed Israel should always be the home country – home base, and nothing should have to interfere or stop one living here – ever.

So, what do you have to offer – and are you prepared to?! Are you really prepared to give of yourself in helping someone else? If so, don't waste another moment – tell us about it! Are you prepared to make yourself a little vulnerable if it means the chances of success will be that much greater? There's never a need for embarrassment – and this is to be avoided at all costs. But what we do need is the lively and creative interaction of all those wanting to benefit their fellow Jew in Israel.

What can you offer? What do you still need?

We want to hear from you. We want to share this with others. We want to reach out to those who care enough to help us all make a success of our Klita (absorption) into Israel.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Meets Rav Mordechai Eliyahu + Video Clip

Today - 25 Sivan 5770, the Tzaddik and Kabbalist, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu was Niftar. He was born in 1929 and appointed as the youngest Dayan (judge) in Israel ever - at the age of just 31 years! His mother was a grandchild of the great Tzaddik and Kabbalist, the Ben Ish Chai - Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, and his father, Rabbi Salman Eliyahu was a known Mekaven (someone who practises the intentions - Kavannot - during prayers) and Kabbalist - though he died when Rav Mordechai was a young boy. He was Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1983-1993. He paid attention to helping secular Jews, was strong in promoting the important values of a proper Jewish education, observing Shabbat, Family Purity, fighting assimilation, and making Aliyah.

His relationship with the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a most special one indeed! In the short video clip below, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu can be seen speaking with the Rebbe. This clip is especially beautiful as it points to an important concept of helping Jews in need physically, of providing them with their necessary food and drink simply to live (after all, "if there is no flour, there is no Torah.") Rav Eliyahu listens, clarifies, and accepts the Rebbe's stance on the matter. (Now it's time for us all to understand these beautiful words too.)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

My Aliyah Story - So Far...

By Mike Diamond

I arrived in Israel on the 31st December 2008 from Cape Town. We were all taken to a special area and given our money and ID book – except me – but being so tired and excited I decided to wait until I got to my hotel in Jerusalem.

Regarding the ID book, I approached an organisation associated with helping South Africans, in the hope that they could help, and asked them for assistance. There were promises, but nothing happened. I went to the various administration departments on my own, and finally managed to find the right person. To my disbelief, the lady I spoke to said that I had lived in Israel for the last 20 years so I should have already been given an ID book. I gave them my reference letters from my last companies and the various letters I had stamped in court. Finally, they accepted my version and gave me my book. I then went to the office for my Sal Klita (absorption basket) money and sorted everything out with them.

We were then taken to our hotel and settled in. I then went down for supper and met all the other South Africans, which was great – as we spoke about our dreams and what we would like to do for our future.

Two necessary processes are necessary when coming to Israel – choosing the right bank for one and joining a Kupat Cholim (a health fund). I did not know who to talk to about finding the appropriate places to join up with that would be suited for me. Fortunately, I already knew about the banks and Kupat Cholim from the last time I was in Israel, so I knew exactly what I wanted. The next day we all went to the seminar and opened up our accounts for the bank and medical aid and cell phone. Afterwards we were taken to our coaches and were driven to our next residence the Merkaz Klita (absorption centre) in Raanana. I went to my room and met my room‑mate.

I selected Raanana as my base-point, because I have a few friends here and people have raved about the Ulpan here and so I decided to move into the Merkaz Klita. Also I only paid 300 Shekel per month for rent. At first it was quite amazing at the Merkaz because of the assortment of different people from all over the world and to hear their point of views about life in Israel.

I stayed at the Merkaz for six months and then moved to my own flat. But first I must tell you about my work I started doing in Raanana. The same day I arrived at the Merkaz I went to the supermarket with my room-mate and while standing in the line to the cashier, I said to my friend that I needed a job and a woman standing behind me said she owned a house cleaning company and offered me a job, where I am still working to this day.

I must be honest, I have not found any organisation that has bothered or cared enough to help me as far as I am concerned. There seems to be big talk, though that is all. Nevertheless, I am old enough to help myself. The truth is that I am still looking for a job, but still need help in networking with the right people who can see the skills I do have to offer and who will be able to help me give of my best in Israel. I believe it will be a win-win situation. Those who can aid me in finding the most suitable work for me will not only be helping me to settle in Israel, but they too will gain from the skills I have to offer.

As for now, doing cleaning is hard. Ironically, I earn the same as a teacher, bank clerk or nurse, so I cannot complain. It is not what I wanted, but I believe one should not sit and sulk. At least I am doing an honest day's work. Hopefully the near future will bring with it a new job with the network system Shoshanah is starting together with a fantastic Yahoo group aimed at allowing SA's to interact, share news and help each other in finding appropriate jobs etc. I believe this is more than any other organisation is doing to help the new South African Olim and they have been very helpful the short time I have been a member.

Although I do not have the job of my dreams here, I still love this country, warts and all and will never leave no matter what. My feelings for others experiencing difficulties here, are to just fight on and you will succeed.

Just to close, Shoshanah has a great chat club, and I believe this will also help new or future Olim to find either jobs or places to stay.

Mike Diamond can be contacted directly at mike1diamond@yahoo.com. If you would like to offer assistance or find out more about his skills and talents, please be in touch with him directly. He is looking for work in an English environment - and would be happy to share necessary information about himself.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Har HaMenuchot

After a week with distressing news, it is time to re-focus and visit the graves of Tzaddikim. This particular trip we went to HarHaMenhuchot in Jerusalem. This particular cemetery is situated just beyond Givat Shaul.

The name means Har (Mount or Mountain) HaMenuchot (of resting - Menucha is rest), the "ot" at the end of the word represents plural, ie many are resting.

In the image above one can see why it might have such a name. With beautiful trees surrounding the graves, this really is a place of rest. In this image one sees the view of Har Nof in the distance. From the other side one can look towards the hills of Ramot direction.

As we came out of the "house" or tomb over the grave of the Chida, one meets this view. The stop sign is presumably to give direction to drivers in cars. However it has been rotated slightly, giving a powerful message. It almost tells us "Stop! Enough!! - Choose Life"

Coming out of the building that "houses" Rav Ashlag's grave, I noticed the image seen above. It caught my attention. With graves and graves going up the hills and on the top - Eitz Chaim or is it leading to Gan Eden seen with the few trees. Either way the light provided an interesting addition to this powerful message.

Aside from connecting with the Tzaddikim and davening in their merit for goodness and peace for Am Yisrael, visiting a cemetery or graveside is supposed to humble a person. It helps us to remember that we came from but a drop and will return to dust and worms. It helps us remember what is important in life. The words on the top of this gravestone perhaps sum it up.
"Happy is the man who fears Hashem, he desires His commandments"

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Job Opportunity - Graphic Design

We are looking for a South African Oleh / Olah who is a professional graphic designer, able to put together an attractive booklet for a day event. The brochure / booklet will include a collection of adverts, biographies, itinerary, maybe some Torah thoughts. We will provide the information and ads but require someone to design the layout from beginning to end and have it printed for us.

We are looking at a brochure of approximately 10 - 16 pages, A5 size. Quantity 50 - 100. We need a quote for the graphic design and the cost of printing.

This is a one off opportunity that we are offering someone employment. However, if we are happy with your work, there is potential for futher work.

This is our third event that we are planning. Should you wish to see our previous event, please visit Torah Online

If you are able to do this, please send a comment to this post or email Shoshanah with a quote and to discuss further.
South African Olim or potential Olim, interested in networking with other South African Olim, please be in touch to join our network forums.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


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