Thursday, 18 February 2010

Hachnasat Kallah - Helping a Needy Bride

Your assistance is urgently required to help a Kallah.

A security guard in Yerushalayim is, thank G-d, in the process of making a wedding for one of her daughters. Her husband is not well and is unable to work and bring in a parnassa. They have 10 children that they are raising on the wife's salary. She works very hard from morning to night, assisting her fellow Jew in Yerushalayim, Israel.

They are NIS 6000 short of necessary funds to make their daughters wedding, G-d willing on 9th March 2010. Please make a donation to help off-set these expenses and enable the daughter to go to Chuppah with peace of mind, simcha and dignity.

As Rabbi Fishel Jacobs writes on the end of his letter of Approbation to our Bayit Chadash Project, "it is a great merit to sponsor Bayit Chadash. The merit to such contributions is unfathomable."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Helping Our Fellow Jew in Israel - THIS Purim

About a week ago, we posted about our desire to turn the food items donated for our Bayit Chadash Project into Purim Packages to help needy families in Israel. In this post, you can see the progress and the need.

The image above shows a package almost complete. It contains a beautiful turquoise bowl filled with a bottle of grape juice, a packet of roasted pasta, a packet of pasta shells, a packet of dried beans, a tin of mixed vegetables, a tin of apple puree, 2 tins of tuna, a packet of barley, a tub of raisins and some igloos (ice lollies). The bowl has been wrapped in clear plastic and tied with a bow of ribbon. We hope to still add some butterflies or other decorations for fun and if we obtain sufficient donations, to include an envelope with Dmei Purim - Matanot le'Evyonim (money to be distributed to the poor on Purim).

The image above shows a Purim Package that is not yet wrapped. It contains a bottle of grape juice, a packet of toasted pasta, a packet of pasta, a packet of potato floor, 2 packets of dried beans, a tin of sliced olives, a tin of peas and carrots, 2 tins of tuna, a container of quality sugar coated peels, some igloos (ice lollies). We still need to wrap this bowl of treats, to decorate it and once more, if possible to add a gift for the family who obtains this (ie Dmei Purim as explained above)

These two attractive bowls are still in need of a bottle of grape juice in order to complete the Purim Package and then wrap it attractively.

The food items are predominantly of the Badatz Eida Chareidi Heksher. A few items have been donated that are of another recognized Badatz Heksher. All food items have been donated specifically for helping other Jews in Israel. The bowls, bottles of grape juice and packaging have been purchased from money donated for this purpose.

We have been notified of at least 20 new couples or families in Jerusalem or surrounding area who are in need of such packages. Please help us to assist our fellow Jew this Purim by making a donation towards this cause. Bli neder, we will continue to post images of new Purim Packages in the various stages of completion as further donations come in.

For those who have friends or family in Jerusalem and surrounding areas that would like to order a Mishloach Manos to be delivered to them on Purim / Shushan Purim, we provide this service too. Please visit our website for details, ideas and to place your order.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Know How to Answer an Israeli

Adjusting to a new country is never easy. Getting to know new people is part of the process that can at times be very challenging. There are some questions that you need to learn how to answer.

Israelis love to ask how much rent you pay or how much you paid for X or what your salary is and yet if you turn the question back to them, the answer seems to be the Mechutanim paid for it. The truth is that no one has the right to ask what you earn, how much rent you pay or any other financial question. OK, one exception would be a lawyer for a specific reason or an accountant. Other than that, no-one, certainly not someone who you do not yet know, has the right to ask such personal information.

How should you answer? Good question. Some like to change the subject, some say they do not want to answer. You can simply say that such information is private. You have every right to keep the information to yourself. Unless of course they are offering to pay your rent for 6 months or a year or more, then certainly let them know how to give this gift in the easiest way possible.

Another question I hear quite often is "why did you come here Bechlal?" Bechlal being Hebrew for at all, but in context it has a strong accent on the sentence. Every Jew can come up with all manner of reasons as to why they came to Israel. The truth is that every Jew belongs in Israel and does not need any other reason for having come here. If you are a Jew, you have every right to live in Israel and to enjoy your life in Israel. The correct response from others should be "Welcome, it is wonderful that you have come, how can we help you to settle in more easily and effectively" If you are not receiving this answer then take it as having been given through this blog. If you need to hear the welcome again, come back and re-read this post or any other one. Or you are welcome to post a message or even send an email, we would love to hear from you and to hear how you are progressing with your life here in Israel.

There are several other questions that sometimes irritate me. Right now, I cant think of them, but the message is the same. Every Jew who is hallachically Jewish has every right to live in Israel and to be respected. That includes your privacy. If you don't want to provide personal information, don't. Keep it to yourself and enjoy your self-respect. Am Yisrael is all one big family but you don't even have to tell your closest family everything. You are entitled to keep information quiet. That includes whether you are getting married and when, whether you are having a baby and when, how old you are, how much you earn, who you are dating, or any other personal information.

Living in Israel can be a challenge on many levels and one of the greatest is the lesson that we really need to master Pirkei Avos just to know how to survive the culture here. Some have the attitude to just tell what they want to hear, or just go with the flow or just pack it in and leave or just accept that in Israel you get paid late or ..... None of these are the Torah way. There is a way to talk to others and the correct Jewish approach is in keeping with Pirkei Avos. There is a way to behave in business and there is even a way to treat new comers.

We are taught that every day we should remember that we were slaves in Egypt. That does not mean in order to treat all new comers like slaves, it means to make their lives a little easier.

We do hope you are benefiting from these posts. Please do send us feedback and let us know how you are progressing.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Spring and Life in a Small Village

This Guest Post together with these beautiful photographs were prepared for you by Cec Cohen, an Olah of 30 years. Please take a moment to visit her website, she has some beautiful glass art which she both sells and teaches others to make too.

As new immigrants, perhaps you are naturally drawn to the center of Israel when looking for a new home and job. And certainly the central areas – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba – are well known and have much to offer. Good schools, good roads, lots of shopping centers… but I’m writing to ask you, before you rent your next home, to consider an alternative.

My name is Cecilia Cohen and I’m an “olah vatika” – an established immigrant. I’ve been in Israel for 30 years. Today I live in a small village in the south of Israel. So small that many Israelis have never heard of it. So small that Facebook doesn’t recognize it and keeps adjusting my location to another town by the same name in Afghanistan! After 30 years of experience living in big cities, small towns and smaller villages, I am convinced that true quality of life is to be found in Israeli villages like mine.

The south of Israel is fairly empty, and very beautiful. It offers hundreds of small villages and agricultural collectives called moshavim where you can buy or rent a home. There are also kibbutzim, another kind of agricultural collective that often rents homes to non-members. Most are within driving distance of large cities, fairly independent, and very community-oriented. Livna, my home, is tucked into the Yatir forest. We are in the foothills of the Hebron Hills, where the weather is cooler in the summer than in the flatlands, warmer in winter than on the mountain tops. Houses are cheaper here – which is how we found it. The view is outrageously inspiring. The people who live in our community are warm, friendly and honest, which is why we love living here.

The area is overflowing with natural beauty, orchards and vineyards; we see herds of native deer almost every day, fox, rabbits, badgers and porcupines. My husband and I were blessed to see a pair of wolves the first year we lived here. Raptors circle over the forest on lazy afternoons. The air is clean and fresh. If archaeology calls to you, you would love the many places to visit near Livna – Tel Arad, the Krayot, Anim ruins, Susyia. If it’s culture and shopping you wish for, we’re less than an hour from Beer Sheva or Jerusalem, 20 minutes from Arad and 30 minutes from a train to Tel Aviv.

Life in a town like ours moves at a slower pace. We’re only 110 families, so when the library has a special event, we all attend. We organize the right kinds of activities to keep our kids busy and happy every afternoon. We have a community pool, share holiday celebrations (as I write this I hear a large owl calling as it flies over my yard…). Many of us volunteer in civic positions. In our area, Hevel Yatir (also known as Drom Har Hevron) some communities practice a religious lifestyle, and others don’t.

Israel is rich with villages like ours – from the north to the south, from the coast to the eastern border, it’s a unique way of life that is gaining popularity. If you like this lifestyle, it’s worth spending a few days with a map and a car, and checking out opportunities. You might prefer the smallest, most off-the-beaten track places, where people are likely to welcome you , houses are still cheap and, like our region, nature is still very much in evidence. If being near shopping areas or cultural happenings is a priority, stay closer to the big cities.

What you need to know: In Israel, many small communities require that you go through an acceptance process. Before you sign a rental or purchase contract, you must speak with the community’s office to ask if you need to go through this process. This is a legal process and scooting around it can cause a lot of headaches, no matter what the home owner tells you ahead of time. Most communities have pre-schools, and some have elementary schools, but most often children will be bussed to school. You might have to commute to work – Israelis consider all commutes over-long and ill-advised, but if driving for an hour or more doesn’t bother you, don’t let distance stop you from finding the perfect place to live. Some of the communities have poor access to public transportation; not all communities have grocery stores or local health clinics; some communities require all members to take part in guard duty periodically; most communities charge monthly fees per family to cover costs of swimming pools or services offered; many have access to public, mobile vet services for your pets; many offer built-in summer and vacation camps for the community’s kids; most homes have their own gardens. Communities might have a religious, a secular or a blended lifestyle. If any or all of these things matter to you, the community’s head office is a good place to ask questions. Often a volunteer is available to speak with people interested in the community.

Wishing you good luck and a good life in Israel!



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