Wednesday, 24 December 2014

"Manners" in Israel - Get Some For Yourself Too - For Free!

ברוכים הבאים - Beruchim HaBaim!!! Welcome to Israel! It's one of the really wonderful greetings you'll hear... when you arrive! As time goes by however, you might find yourself wondering if words like "please" and "thank you" were ever a part of the Oxford Dictionary...

Please... don't forget your manners when you live in this beautiful country. In case you're wondering just what they're all about, enjoy this video. One thing that's clear is that I do know that the lessons this young man teaches us here are infinitely important, endless and perhaps some of the most powerful teachings we can take with us in our day to day activities.

Enjoy - and do share this post with your friends!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

How to Purchase a Computer in Israel - Successfully

Technology is changing on a day to day basis. It seems that just moments after purchasing one of the new fancy-shmancy technological devices of today - that another fancier-shmancier item has just been introduced. The very way computers are set up in today's times is making it harder than ever to purchase a computer most suitable for anyone confined to a particular budget range. In such instances, one may well find oneself budgeting not just for the next computer - but for the next computer in the hope of it lasting some 3-5 years at least (hoping to make it last even longer!) It's not a short period of time to get through if one has purchased the wrong system. You don't want to go wrong!

From years gone by, I remember my own selling of computers, having qualified as an A+ Hardware/Software PC Technician. When selling a computer, I recall well phoning 3 or 4 suppliers to find out what was available, what the prices were like and the quality of the machines being purchased. Overall, I found my suppliers helpful - offering the best advice, and letting me know well that certain cheaper machines did mean a loss of quality. I knew where I stood. They always seemed to outline everything for me - even when I may have accidentally neglected to mention a particular component. They knew I was an important buyer (everyone is!) and that it was crucial that their next sale would not just be a sale - but that it would be the springboard for another sale - and another. It was worth it to them to tell me everything as it really was...

After years of living in Israel, things have changed a lot. One thing that is different is that I am now on the side of purchasing for myself as opposed to purchasing to re-sell the item to others. I share below a recent experience and where it left me and offer you - the potential buyer - the opportunity to learn from my own mistakes and consider what will be important for you when you find yourself needing to purchase a computer.

I offer some vital points to consider before sharing the "danger signs":
(Note: The points are directed to those looking to purchase a PC laptop - though many points can be considered for a desktop machine as well. Details regarding the Apple computer are not considered.)

1. Hard Drive: Consider how much hard drive space you'll need. You'll be surprised how fast the storage space is used. Finding yourself short of space in two years might well mean an early upgrade - something you had not bargained for. Yes, the extra cash spent upfront may be to your advantage. At the time of writing this, machines are being sold with 500MB or 1000MB - better known as 1TB. There's no question, the figure is only going upwards!

2. Memory: The computer's memory is what will help speed up your system - or better yet, keep it operating optimally when many activities are taking place. At the time of writing - the norm is 4GB, but many are opting for 8GB. Of course, if you're in need of many applications and especially for graphic work, the more the better. Paying that little extra for more memory is definitely worth it in the long run. You'll understand that statement only if you purchase less, and begin to realise in a short time, just how slow your computer has become!

3. Graphic Card Memory: If you're working seriously with graphic software, you'll want your computer to be able to tolerate the graphic images easily. Adding a 2GB card can make all the difference to allow images to load and be processed so much faster.

4. Size of Screen: There are a variety of sizes available. Of course, what suits you best is what is best for you. Be comfortable with it though - and don't let anyone tell you anything else! Using a 15.6" screen is actually a great start - though you can certainly get bigger if you are okay with lugging a larger computer around with you - if you travel a lot.

5. Operating System: The standard is Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 which actually has all the main updates already installed (there are always need updates!!!) It doesn't really matter what others say, Windows 8.1 is better because it includes the necessary updates. If the salesman is getting rid of his older machines with Windows 8, and trying to palm them off on you - it's because he wants to make the sale and not be stuck with the older computer himself (or having to sell it at even less in the future!) - not because he is actually interested in your best interests. Windows will be upgrading soon - but nobody really knows when! If you are in need of a machine now - and thinking of waiting to be on top of things when the new system comes out - don't think that waiting will be the best answer. While it may launch early in the new year (2015) - it may well launch only much later!! You'll be forced into waiting a long time when you could be far more productive right now! Microsoft apparently say that all Windows 8.1 users will be able to upgrade for free. Let's hope it will actually be so!


And here is where I now pause as I share with you two more crucial areas of computer purchasing and another vital issue that you - as the consumer in Israel must be aware of:

*** SUPPORT ***

When purchasing in Israel, it is vital to be aware of what type of support you will receive after purchasing your computer. Sure, the computer looks all nice and clean when you open it up (and the sales person will still be smiling all the time - so long as your computer is neatly packed away without you having any acces to it!) but... are you - for example, aware of what the screen actually looks like? Are you aware of the type of keyboard you'll be getting? 

Sadly, many people purchase their machines without even having seen them. What is worse - is that the owner of the store has not seen them either! In fact, he may know absolutely nothing about the machine, other than the info provided as in points 1-5 above. Asking him if the keyboard is good will be met with a laugh - because how bad can a keyboard actually be?! Asking him regarding the quality of the screen may well not meet with a better reaction - after all, how different can a screen be?!

In fact, keyboards differ widely. If you are serious about the system you are purchasing, you may want to actually get a feel for it in the store before purchasing it. Sadly, there are not many stores that have a selection of computers available for easy try-before-you-buy use. As a result, you may end up with a system with a play-play keyboard (in my language.) The keyboard has soft rubbery types of keys, making it hard to type on. The keys often don't strike properly and one must go back and strike them with force to get them to print. If you're serious about typing, you may want to look for a machine that has keys that are springy and easy to press.

If you're buying from a friend - who knows you and believes can sell you what's best for you and you trust, you may well fall for a decision he makes. Remember, after opening your computer, the chances are you will lose all possibility of returning it for a refund. Complaining then about the quality of the computer will not help. In fact, if anything, it will only change the expression of the smile on the sales person's face...


Dealers and Authorised Sellers: There's a difference. A dealer is someone who runs a store and makes a profit for having purchased a computer from one person and then sells it on to you. An authorised seller is someone who actually takes responsibility for their sale!!! Practically this means the following: If you are purchasing from a dealer, remember, if something is not right, he can do nothing about it. His role in the sale is nothing more than making a profit from buying from one and selling to another. He offers you no support whatsoever. In fact, the company whose computer he has sold will not support you either from his side. Once you tell the company you have purchased from a dealer, they will refuse to interact with you and you will be left on your own!

The Screen: We've discussed keyboards. What about the quality of the screen. Did you know there is an ordinary screen and another with various names including the "TrueLife Display"? While an ordinary screen (Matte) will be soft on your eyes, a TrueLife Display will be beautiful for videos, but absolutely awful for text! The text appears blurry and the screen produces such a glare that it can often cause headaches and further eye problems while you are staring at it. Of course - this is a personal opinion, but do yourself a favour and search on the Internet for more information about what this screen actually is - and find out more about it yourself - before you make your purchase. Become an informed buyer - and know more than the store owner - because he is already subjective in making a sale - and not necessarily at all interested in what is actually best for you! (See this link - Matte vs Glossy Screens for a comparison. Here is a great video: Glossy vs Matte Screen Comparison.) 

Dealers do not know the ins and outs of the quality of screens or keyboards - because they do not ever try out the machines they sell! In fact, they very often do not even know who will support you when things go wrong - nor do they know where these people are located!

Our Story - and how this post came about:

After using a great computer for some 7 years, we realised we just could not continue with the slow speed (and the fact that the keys of the keyboard had come off - and we now use an external keyboard.) 

We approached a computer support technician who we had dealt with before - and were quite happy with his service. He did not only offer support but also sold computers. We asked his advice, and gave him the specs we needed. I had not even considered the quality of the screen and neglected to mention that we needed a screen with a sharp clear appearance which would not aid in giving further headaches. Within a few short moments, he had recommended a beautiful Dell laptop which seemed to have everything we could hope for.

We picked up the machine from the store and opened it at home (at once losing any chance of returning it for any reason.) Indeed, once one purchases an item in Israel and opens it, one is at the sole mercy of the original producer of the machine, and it seems that legally, the seller (AKA profit maker) is exempt of all responsibility. Since the industry is so big - it becomes an almost impossible task to now talk to any of the "big boys" who actually "offer support."

The glare on the screen was (is) uncomfortable - to say the least. We changed the resolution, the brightness / darkness of the screen and whatever we could - trying our best to make it at least as comfortable as the 7 year old machine, but it seems we never quite got to the quality of old-faithful.

We called the seller the next day informing him of the problem, but were not met with a positive response. We were on our own. We contacted the Dell main office in the USA but were clearly told they offer no support for clients in Israel, but that it was indeed the responsibility of the seller to refund us - or at the very least to replace the machine if we were not happy with it.

We tried contacting Dell Israel with no success. They are situated in Hertzlia - and the distance of travelling in and out for us is not easy. To have to do this and not know where we would stand without at least some phone support first - would be beyond irresponsible for us.

Over the past 14 days, we have tried emailing the seller explaining our problem, but it seems, we are not going anywhere positive. 

After contacting Dell (USA) another few times, they told us that in fact because we had taken the route of purchasing from a dealer instead of an authorised seller, we had also lost any privilege chances of replacing the machine or getting our money back.

It hasn't been a happy experience. In summary, we offer you a summary of our own mistakes - and hope it will help you in purchasing your next machine with confidence:

1. Purchase from an authorised dealer only

2. If you can - you must spend enough time with the machine in person to know if it's the right one for you

3. Pay particular attention to the quality of the monitor and the keyboard. They are your most vital interactive pieces of equipment you will use when working on your computer.

4. If you're buying Dell, do find ways of connecting with them first, to see if they do offer any support. You'll get an idea fast enough - that if there isn't much response now, chances are, that's about the same support you will receive after your purchase!

Happy computer buying!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Transitions and Decisions in Making Aliyah

Making Aliyah is a tremendous change. There are many transitions that have to be made and much work in order to ensure a successful integration into your new home and community. Where does one begin? How do you know if Israel is right for you?

With most things in life, the best place to begin is by sitting down and deciding what your life goals are. Do you have goals for your life? Have you considered how to set about achieving them?

What are some factors that might help you decide whether moving to Israel would help you to achieve your goals or be moving in a totally different direction?

That would depend in part on what your goals are, if you have set them yet and where you are in the life cycle. If you are single, your goals and needs will be different to whether you are newly married, which will differ to whether you have children and what their ages are or whether you are older than that and nearing retirement.

Do you have responsibilities? This is another big question to ask.

If you are in need of assistance in identifying your life goals or in deciding whether Israel will be a land that helps you meet your life goals, Chessed Ve'Emet can assist you to identify each of these and devise a plan to meet your goals and ease the transition.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Shabbat Shalom UMevorah

What are your thoughts for today? Some think of it as Friday while some think more of tomorrow, i.e. Shabbat. Either way, it's time to say:

 It's quite a special Shabbat this week.

This week is Shabbat of Chanukah and a time to remember the miracle of the oil that remained burning for 8 days while new oil was prepared to light the Menorah. It's also Shabbat Mevorach meaning the last Shabbat of the month of Kislev and the time to recite a prayer to bless the coming month. Next month will be the month of Tevet.

The image above of the Holy Temple is a reminder of this special time and what Chanukah represents. It's also a reminder that when the Temple stands in it's proper place, there is blessing that flows from there to the rest of the world. Just like on the last Shabbat of the month we pray for peace, blessings and good things for the month ahead, so too, the prayers and holy services that takes place in the Temple is all aimed at bring peace and blessing from Jerusalem out to the rest of the world. What a very special concept. 

Shabbat in Jerusalem is starting to come in a tiny bit later again. Candle lighting this week is 16h03 (in Jerusalem - if you live elsewhere in Israel, please check the correct candle lighting time for you). Remember to light your Chanukah candles before lighting your Shabbat candles leaving enough time for all the blessings and songs if you sing them. Approximately 5 minutes is needed to complete the Chanukah candle lighting and be ready to light your Shabbat candles. 

Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach and Chanukah Somayach to all. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tashlumim (Installment Payments) in Israel: Friend or Foe?

While owing a credit card can be of assistance to many - when used correctly, they can become a source of tremendous problems when used incorrectly. Not all countries are equal however...

While all countries will allow you to debit your card with a payment when you wish to purchase something, a country like Israel has an additional credit option over and above this regular facility.

Let's get this clear from the beginning - anyone using a card irresponsibly will find himself in serious trouble within just one month. It's not the plastic that makes the purchase. It's the money in the account that comes off the account when the credit card is due for payment - something many forget! Of course if you find yourself in need of carrying this piece of plastic with you because for any number of reasons, carrying another payment type (cash or cheque) is uncomfortable, but actually do have the money in your account, then your credit card can assist you when you find you just don't have the cash on you. Purchasing items on the Internet (responsibly) can be done using your card. Not having the card may mean you lose out on a book you may be able to obtain from overseas (or any other item you may need at the time.) But again, if you forget that - while the payment goes through, it has not actually gone through until some other date during the month when the bank account is actually debited - avoid this piece of plastic in every way you can!

In Israel, there's an additional payment method made to "help" you when money is tight. It's called "Tashlumim" (תשלומים). The word Tashlum means payment, though the correct translation in this case would be "installment". In other words, you go to the sports store and notice a wonderful fitness machine that you simply must have! It will set you back ₪4000 - but when it comes to being fit - it's worth it (you say to yourself!) You ask the store owner (perhaps) if he can give you a discount. He replies that he cannot, but not to worry, you can purchase the item in Tashlumim. In fact, you probably won't even feel the money being paid - he may convince you. He tells you that in Israel you can often get up to 24 months of Tashlumim - so your ₪4000 super-powered aerboic swimming/cycling/flying machine will cost you just ₪167.67 per month. Now isn't that affordable - he asks? He's convinced you. Your account has convinced you. Your card has convinced you and you go ahead and make the purchase. The item is delivered and for a week (for a start) you're a fitness freak! Slowly it starts to settle in though that though the item is in your home - you still have another 23 payments to make.

The salesman will also convince you that your Tashlumim are free. What's "great" about this Tashlum business is that you'll be sure to meet another Tashlum fanatic at your next grocery purchase. You'll meet another one selling your electricity. Another selling you some other widget-gadget and so it goes on. Each of these salesman will also convince you that purchasing through Tashlumim is the way to go! In fact, when you check out from the superstore, you may encounter a smiling teller ask you "Tashlumim or Ragil"? He's asking if you want the payment to be made over a series of months or if it should come off in one go. In fact, the way he says it clearly points to Tashlumim being the way to go. You may even choose it!

Fine! So you have your super-aerobic machine now on Tashlumim, and you've even bought your groceries on Tashlumim. You've paid for you electricity on Tashlumim and a whole bunch of other things which all seemed to be just ₪150 every month. But you've forgotten the biggest thing. After ten such purchases - that month alone - you'll be obligating yourself for ₪1500 a month for 24 months! But that's not all, because once the next month comes around, you'll find yourself doing the same thing. You'll now be adding your original ten Tashlumim with another 10! Before long, you'll find yourself in tremdendous debt - making use of a completely "useful" and "helpful" Israeli payment system. Essentially, you've now turned your credit card into a doubled-credit card! It seems like you can get more out of it. But you can't.

What's more - the point they never tell you - you'll be paying a fee of around 50 aggarot per "pushed off" installment payment. In other words, if you "sign up" for the ten Tashlumim offer, you'll be forking out another 5 Shekel each month for the hidden costs of those payments. It never sounds like much when you think of "just" ₪5, but that's the point they all want you to think - until of course you realise just how much these "small" amounts add up to!

There is only one way to get a hold on these things once you realise what is happening. Avoid this form of payment wherever you can. It should clearly only be used by a responsible person in a very responsible and needed urgent situation. Relying on it - just because it seems to be the done thing, with everyone offering it can be the start of tremendous financial problems. 

Think of it this way... Instead of the ten Tashlum each month that cost ₪1500, see if you can purchase a super powered aerobic swimming/cycling/flying machine at that price outright and buying it straight out if you can. This way you'll have a great working machine that will be yours from the start - and not having to worry about the payments every single month. Likewise - consider managing all your purchases in this way. As each month goes by - rather put the money you would be putting into Tashlumim - into one item that you know you can pay for right away. If you can't - consider very well the real cost and time involved when making that Tashlum purchase!

Credit card debt is so easy to get into. In Israel, there's just one more way for helping you get into it even faster. Tashlumim. Be aware of what it is, and what it can actually end up costing you in the long run!

For more assistance on understanding some of the lifestyle in Israel and how you can get a better grasp of succeeding to live here, do contact us for a one on one life skills consultation.

** This post is offered to provide information to help the reader consider the points discussed for his own situation in order to help make an informed decision for himself. For professional financial or other advice, always contact someone you feel is best suited to assist you.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

How Well Do You Know Your Cellphone Contract and Its Costs (in Israel)?

You may be aware that the cellphone industry in Israel is currently experiencing its most competitive times ever. There is at least one new provider entering the market - adding to the huge competition between Orange, Cellcom, Rami Levy, Golan and Pelephone. There are various deals - each claiming to be better than the next. But do you really know what is going on and what you'll end up paying for your monthly contract?!

A few months ago we were highly encouraged to join Golan. Golan offer a fantastic deal where for one price - you are able to call to 55 international countries and get yourself up to 6GB of Internet roaming data. What's more, if you sign up for two lines at once, you end up getting your second contract at less than half the price of the first - all for a one year period. Sounds too good to be true? It probably is! Not because of what it looks like - but because of what it could actually cost - as time goes by!

When we approached the Golan stand in Malcha Mall a few months ago, we ourselves were conned with their fancy sales-pitch talk. Indeed, the laptop of the salesman is open displaying how many hundreds of thousands of clients are currently joining Golan, with the counter increasing on at least a one minute basis! The deal was also clearly visible - as you'll see it on their site For ₪59 you'll get a line that gives you free calls to landlines and mobile lines within Israel as well as 55 international countries (mostly landlines only) as well as free SMS's - and everything else the line has including 6GB Internet roaming. In the small print - you'll see you can get another line for just ₪26 with the same package apparently all for a year - at least that's what we saw and what we were told by the physical salesman standing in front of us. But that's probably why it's in the small print!

After signing up for the contract, it was clear on the salesman's laptop that the second line would only last for 5 months - not an entire year - after which we would need to pay ₪99 a month for that second line - an amount we were never prepared to pay (and had clearly told him.) The competition is steep and it was not necessary to have to pay this amount for what we needed. We were however quite happy with the year offer as presented to us.

When we mentioned this to the salesman he explained to us that only those who are not prepared to work at their contact regularly pay more(!) When asked for an explanation, he told us that all we needed to do was to call them at the 5 month period and set up a new contract and we would be back on track with the cheaper contract - no additional or hidden costs. As long as you keep track and watch that you don't fall into a new contract with a new amount - but instead phone to update and let the company know you are not prepared for the ₪99 deal - they will restructure the contract to reflect the smaller amount again.

5 months later, we did indeed make the call, only to be told that we were lied to. In fact, we could indeed change the contract to a cheaper one (and not lose out on having to pay for the ₪99 line) but that it would also cost us an extra ₪49 because we had reneged on the original contract! When I told the saleslady on the phone that this is not what the original salesman had said, she apologised, but kept to her word. At the end of the day, it was clear, the contract that had been accepted was by far not what had been told or sold to us.

While I have enjoyed using the Golan contract overall, the recent behaviour and the show of fibs and secrecy of the real contract has sadly made me question them as an honest company I wish to continue with. The competition is steep - and there's no reason to have to be stuck with a company not prepared to be honest - at least at the outset.

While this behaviour was unexpected from Golan - we had experienced similar behaviour from Cellcom after being told that the phones we received together with the contract (many years ago when such things were possible when signing up for a three year contract) - would be free! It was again salesman talk - and it was only when we received our first bill that we realised that not only was there a charge for the cellphones - but the charge far exceeded anything we had expected for a phone of the quality we had received!

Is there corruption within the cellphone market in Israel in general? Why is there a need for the dishonesty presented?

Do you know what your contract is actually costing you? Are you aware of the additional, hidden costs that crop up every now and again when you least expect it?

Have you had good service from your cellphone company and happy with your contract? Please write to us and let us know. Good service should well be rewarded, and we'd be delighted to share the good work of good and honest companies in Israel. We definitely need to promote and support those who are upfront and honest - from the start!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Winter in Israel: The Dangers of Using a Hot Water Bottle! (Video Included)

You'll know that winter in Israel is a very cold time for us all! There are a variety of ways you can choose to stay warm - including appropriate clothing, gloves, a scarf and maybe even a good quality head covering. When you're outdoors - that's basically what will keep you warm. You'll also need a good quality coat. Make sure to do a look-around before buying in a hurry! There are a variety of good quality jackets and coats around and they can cost a lot. Make sure to try on your clothing and see that you feel comfortable in it. Garments shouldn't feel too tight (you need to breath!) and likewise should not be too lose (they'll be falling off all the time and not seal in the warmth!) Make sure to choose a good store and find a sales person who will listen to you and your needs.

When you get in to your apartment and especially during the cold evenings, you're going to be considering a variety of warming facilities. We'll try to explore options in a later post. Having heard so many people being excited by using a hot water bottle, I really just wanted to share this video with everybody. Yes, a hot water bottle will set you back just ₪15 or so, and takes just a kettle of boiled water to make you feel snug - hot water bottles are dangerous. Everybody needs to educate themselves about the dangers of this innocent looking piece of equipment - before making use of it.

Suggested guidelines for using the bottle (if you feel you simply cannot do without it!) include:
  • Never fill it entirely to the top
  • Fill it no more than half way - and preferably even less than that (a third decreases the risk of danger.)
  • Make sure to squeeze out any additional air that exists between the water and the lid of the bottle. Avoid all air bubbles inside the bottle!
  • Never fill it with the water that has just been boiled from the kettle, but waiti until it has cooled down (making you wonder if it will actually keep you warm!)
  • Never rest your head upon it
  • Never sleep with it hugged on your body

At best, place the bottle in your bed to warm the bed slightly before getting in - and then remove the bottle before sleeping. You may wish to consider purchasing a sheepskin under-sheet for real warmth. It is an amazing source of warmth!

Ideally - in fact, avoid using the bottle for warming purposes. The dangers far outweigh the advantages. The video below clarifies just how dangerous the bottle can be. If you're cold - consider some other options such as using an additional blanket wrapped around you or a good quality heater - which must also be treated with respect. We'll try to look at these options (and their costs) in another post.

Yes - just ₪15 - but with the dangers involved - ask yourself if it's really worth it!

Do forward this post to friends you know who may stand to gain by understanding the dangers of the hot water bottle.

Monday, 1 December 2014

PepperSpray for Civilians

Everyone reacts differently when tragedy hits. Some read every news article that comes out, share and comment on each article. Some turn to prayer. Some encourages others to increase in prayer or acts of loving kindness. One former lone soldier come up with a practical solution to help to save as many as possible. 

The day after the attack in Har Nof, he began a Crowd Fundraising campaign to provide Pepper Spray to civilians in Israel. So far he has succeeded in completing two orders, and is hoping to do a third order and more if the donations allow it.

With a goal of distributing pepper spray to 1000 civilians. Of course, there are many many more who need this than just 1000. Please help him to go far beyond his goal.How about making this so successful that every civilian can have his or her own pepper spray. Why not, since he has been kind enough to begin this campaign, please show your support and help it to succeed.

Please visit the campaign and help to both spread the word and make donations. 

Thank you for caring about civilians in Israel.  


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