Friday, 29 January 2010

Tu B'Shvat in Israel

This Shabbat will be Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for the trees. It is a special festival in Israel, usually marked by plating of new trees and eating new fruits. Since this year, Tu B'Shvat falls on Shabbat, we will not be able to plant trees or other new plants on the day itself.

Some may plant today, prior to Shabbat, others may delay and plant young trees on Sunday.

You may wonder why the supermarkets, makoliot (corner cafe's) and the markets have an increase of fruits and dried fruits. Tu B'Shvat will be the reason. Some have the custom for a specific seder enjoying the new fruits for spring and 4 cups of wine, others just enjoy the fruits, either way it is generally a happy time and a productive one.

Enjoy. Chag Somayach and Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Benefit of Being in Eretz Yisrael

Yesterday I had the merit to visit Hevron and the resting place of our Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzkah and Yaakov, our Matriarchs Sarah, Rivka, and Leah. One of the most special aspects of making aliya is to be right here, walking the same ground as all those in the Chumash. Visiting the same places they did and being able to connect with them in a very real way.

Did you know that you can have a Bris Millah at Maharas HaMachpela, right next to Avraham Avinu the first Jew to fulfill this mitzvah? All the details including arranging the Mohel, minyan if you need, seuda can be arranged for you through very special Yidden who live in Hebron.

It is easy to get caught up with the frustration of the bureaucracy, but if you take a little time out, an hour or two or a day, you can have the opportunity to re-charge by visiting the Holiest places in the world.

If you are unable to get to Maharas HaMachpela but would like some tefillos offered there on your behalf, please be in touch. Did you know that all Tefillos ascend to Heaven via the Cave of Machpela?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Bituach Leumi - the outcomes of applying for help.

If you are a Jew who is eager to work or his or her middos, then Israel is certainly the place for you.

If your challenge is patience, faith and Ahavas Yisrael (loving your fellow Jew), you will do very well with trying out Bituach Leumi.

Have you ever seen what happens to a ball of wool, all neatly rolled up and placed in a basket, then along comes a cat and decides to play. The ball of wool somehow changes its form. You might come back, eager to begin knitting or crocheting or some other creative pursuit with your beautiful ball of wool and suddenly, woops, the cat decided a different design was in order.

Going through the Bituach Leumi system is rather like that. You might have in mind that you will bring in your documents, carefully complete whatever forms they require, hand it in, receive your answer or money or whatever and everyone is happy. But, Bituach Leumi usually has a different plan.

When I worked in a hospital and was part of the process to evaluate whether a disability grant was indicated or perhaps work rehabilitation would be a better option; perhaps some compensation while work rehabilitation is taking place. There was a system. There were forms to complete, evaluations to carry out, everything worked well when all those in the process did their job correctly. It is really quite straight forward and should not take too long either.

But computers are funny objects, somehow they require a human being to enter information and one hopes that the information will be entered correctly and remain as it was given.

For some reason that I don't understand, the process seems quite straight forward, but, if you find yourself in a place of needing some help from Bituach Leumi, prepare yourself for a road that is neatly set out to test your middos. Be ready to complete the same forms over and over and over again. Be ready to keep your cool, remain patient and go through the process when they suddenly come back with your work history becoming your husbands and vise versa.

On our guest posts you will see the legal side of how things SHOULD take place. Take a deep breath, daven (pray) really hard every moment, give some tzeddakah or maybe a lot and if you get through the process with the result you intended, know that it was a miracle. I would even say an open miracle, an absolute Gift from G-d.

Israel runs on miracles. The best advice we can give is take every situation as an opportunity to improve who you are and notice every achievement as the Hand of G-d coming down to help you directly.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Reducing the Numbers of Car Accidents

Car accidents – And how you can help reduce the number of accidents

The wheel is in your hands

This post has been prepared for you by Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law

In the Israeli police, there is a special unit in charge of informing families that their relative – father, child, mother, or sibling – has died in a car accident. Sometimes, the right sentence is: “They were killed in an accident”.

This special unit is formed by only six policeman and they are never “off duty”.

We all can and should help to reduce the number of accidents.

The legal aspect and the most recent changes in the traffic law court is dealt with in this post.

In the last few years, especially in the last three years, judges in the traffic law courts have started a slow – but very active – process of changing punishment criteria.

The meaning of this change is that convicted defendants can be kept in prison for long periods of time, even when the victims are members of their own family.

Think about of how tragic it can be for a parent that, besides killing their own child, they must also serve time in prison!

Car and accident insurance:
Until now, there have not been changes in car insurance policy[1]. These policies cover in case of an accident even a driver who is under the effect of alcohol, but it does not cover the driver under the influence of drugs like marihuana, cocaine, ecstasy and other similar narcotics.

The mandatory insurance (Bituach Chova) is one of the best in the world and I advise you to never (1) go out with your car or even turn on the engine[2] without this insurance. The law is clear on this matter and every vehicle must be covered with this mandatory insurance, which must be valid and kept in the driver’s possession.

Some tips

One of the best media advertisements was produced by an insurance company named “ASNE” (which doesn’t exist anymore). The slogan said: On the road, do not be right, be smart. Just a tip: leave your pride on the side and remember that you have a family waiting for you at home.

Many times I (or my motorcycle) hope to make it to the office and back home alive.

Let the other drivers turn on the high beam in your face or on your back. Let them honk, swear, drive past you... It is not worth it to get all worked up about it. Think about your family waiting at home. Think about your friends and about the wonderful life that awaits you!

The driver is on duty – who will it be today?

One of the greatest solutions today that works very well is the famous “HANAHAG HATORAN”: the driver on duty.

I always ask my son, who is 22 years old; 6’ tall, weighs 210 lbs, and was a member of an elite unit in the army, who he is going out with and who is bringing the car back. So what? It is still the father or the mother who commands the car wheel. If the answers are not good enough, there are no car keys! I tell him to take a cab!

Tell your child, tenderly and firmly, that, if they drink, their father or mother will pay for the cab ride or will pick them up. Make it very clear that it is no inconvenience.

Tell them that they can call you anytime, even late at night. Make your children be sure that you will always be there to help them, whenever and wherever, and that this will not be a reason for you to be upset or for them to be punished.

Footnote by Shoshanah Shear: We would like to thank Tzvi Szajnbrum for preparing this article both to outline the law and to indicate the important role of parents and the responsibility of drivers. Working as an Occupational Therapist both in Rehabilitation and in Medico-Legal work, one message that hit home was, an accident happens in a split second. Afterwards we think of all the things we could have done to prevent it. Please, listen to Tzvi Szajnbrum. Think of your family before something happens. Afterwards is already too late.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Charedi Housing Crisis

Charedi Housing Crisis may indicate Larger Trend: If there's anyone wondering about the difficulties the religious communities are experiencing in terms of being able to purchase their own home in Israel... they may wish to think again as the problem is simply indicative of a much larger problem that could affect those... who are not religious as well: Visit this link on for more information.

We need to start sticking together truly helping each other out, rather than turning a blind eye... We're all in the same boat together. The hole being drilled under "that person's" seat on this mighty yacht called Earth, is not just affecting them, it's affecting us all.

Working In Israel

The topic of work is actually part of my profession as an Occupational Therapist. In amongst working to set up a Pre-vocational Rehabilitation Program at a leading Teaching Hospital, I have completed a Junior Management course and two courses for Small Business Basics. Yet, nothing I learned prepared me for life in Israel.

I did everything correctly. The Pilot Trip, planning, preparing, knowing how to convert my degree to be recognized in Israel, learning Hebrew, residency .... I had it all worked out, then I came to Israel and everything changed.

I never expected to work in a paid job and not get paid. I never expected to be elligible for Sal Klita (the absorption basket - a regular stipend to assist an Olah while doing their ulpan) and not receive it, or to receive NIS 64 for a month and have a surprised counselor wonder why that is not enough to cover a months expenses.

I just got off the telephone from a colleague in the health profession who affirmed it is normal to have to wait a few months to be paid ones salary if you work for any of the health companies. My question was, "how is anyone to live while waiting for their salary?"

Her answer was: "I don't know!" Many are forced to take out loans and loans and loans. I am told this is Israel.

No, that attitude is not Israel, it is very very foreign to the life of a Jew. The Torah provides us with laws of business including paying ones workers on time. Once again, I am reminded that the name Israel is the same name given to Yaakov Avinu (our Father) after he successfully won a battle with the angel of Eisav. Yaakov is a man of truth and honesty means paying ones workers what is required on time.

I am told it takes time to process ones information in order to receive a salary. If it is so difficult, why is it that other countries manage? Why is it that when I worked as a locum therapist in UK, one of hundreds of therapists around the UK who worked as such, I got paid every week, on time, in full and a good pay. Why is it when I worked in USA as a contract therapist, again one of many who worked for the company who headhunted me, once again I was paid in full from the first month. No problems, directly into my bank account.

The answer is because it IS possible. It takes a person fulfilling the correct process of entering the information into a computer, pressing the enter key and there is a file with all the data.

Why do I put this up? Not to scare you. Not to say give up your profession and just clean houses or pack shelves as I was told. No, come, with your morals and values and western standards and help to build Israel into the country it is supposed to be. A country of truth. A country of morals and values and caring. A country where we can all go to sleep with peace of mind that everyone was paid on time.

How do we do that? I dont have the answer, but I do know one thing, there is power in unity and numbers, so why not start by joining our Tehillim group. We have a campaign on the go at the moment to have 1000 Jewish women reciting Tehillim every Shabbat during daylight hours. Join our group. Let the power of the Tehillim and the group help to open doors.

If you have any ideas, we would love to hear them. Israel IS where Jews belong. Israel can have top quality health care in a manner that every health professional is paid on time a decent living wage. It is up to us to make that happen. If we have nothing else to do and no ideas, then our next option is really our first option, daven. Lots of it. And resolve to take jobs that do pay correctly and, whenever you are in a position to employ a Jew, make sure to pay them on time.

The words of a song come to mind: "Make this world a better place, its yours and its mine, so now is the time...."

Friday, 1 January 2010

Welcome to this Weeks New Olim

This past week was an eventful one here in Israel. Our week began with a fast day. A few days later on 29th December 2009 there was a group flight from UK, France and South Africa of new Olim to Israel.

We want to make a special welcome to these Olim Chadashim. May this first Shabbat as Olim be a very special one and fill you with the spiritual resources for a successful Absorption.

For those coming from South Africa, we do have a network group on the go for South African Olim. Please send us an email to be included or send a message or comment to this post. We look forward to getting to know you and all Olim.

If you have questions or discover topics you would like addressed on this blog, please be in touch.

Hatzlachah (much success) and Shabbat Shalom


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