Sunday, 29 March 2015

Preparing for Pesach

This time of year is a very special time to be in Eretz Yisrael. As most Yidden are busily preparing for Pesach, there are details that need reminders.

1) Cleaning is to remove any Chometz. It is of course wonderful to clean away any dust and make sure your home is clean, neat and in order, but if you are pressurized for time, the rule of thumb is to make sure you have removed all Chometz. Any other cleaning is extra.If in doubt, check with your rabbi.

2) While clearing your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer etc, remember your medicine cabinet also needs checking. There are certain medications that are permissible for Pesach and some that are not. The Chief Rabbi's office puts out a list of those medications that are permissible for Pesach. If you have not seen the list, ask at your local pharmacy. If you have a need for certain ongoing chronic meds, make sure to prepare in advance. If necessary ask your doctor if there is a suitable alternative if the medication you require is not on the list or what s/he suggests for the 8 days of Pesach. 

On another note, the Matza that we eat on Pesach contains certain healing properties. May we all merit a complete Refuah on every level and to greet Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach THIS Year.

Happy cleaning everyone. May we all enjoy Chag Kasher Ve'Somayach

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Voting in Israel - Observing Contrasts

Yesterday was voting in Israel. Whether or not you agree with the politics currently happening in Israel, living here results in all kinds of experiences. Here are just two observations of the time leading up to and including voting day in Israel. It show the contrasts.

In several areas from a few days prior to voting, the streets became littered with flyers. This photograph was taken in Mea Shearim - Geulah area in Jerusalem. As you can see the road is an absolute mess.

What does this achieve?
 I really do not understand why anyone would throw a bunch of flyers on the street. Is anyone really going to bend down in the middle of a busy crossing and pick up a flyer to read why to vote for a given party? 

Aside from the impractical littering, who do they expect will clean this up and why should someone have to clear up someone else's mess like this?

In another area, many of the flyers had photographs of Talmudei Chachamim. I don't think it is Mechubad to walk on the face of a big rabbi which means that walking along the sidewalk or crossing the street is time consuming and complicated as one has to play dodge the flyer.

Contrast the mess to the Kivrei Tzaddikim. This image is taken where Rav Ovadya Yosef is buried. On voting day, many Jews turned to the Tzaddikim to intervene for good for Israel. Anticipating a large group to come to Rav Ovadya Yosef, a large canopy was erected to make sure there would be shade for those wanting to spend time Davening.

We hope and pray that the outcome of the election will bring us closer to Geulah, the final redemption and the coming of Moshiach, the only real leader for Am Yisrael. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

What Can One Do With Coins?

Someone asked what he can do with all the small change that builds up. Since we manage a Gemach and are at times given a bag or jar of coins, we have had a bit of fun finding out this answer.

Here are the responses we have been given.


You can prepare your coins into bags of e.g. ₪10 worth of 10 agarot coins and take them to deposit into your bank account or to be changed into larger denominations of coins. The bank has patience for ₪10 coins or possible 5's, but for 10 and 50 agarot coins we were informed that there is a service charge. How much will depend on your bank.

Post Offices:

You can pay off postage in coins at post offices but if you wish to change coins for larger denominations, there is a service charge. Make sure if you are paying for something in small coins to only do 1-3 Shekels worth at a time. If you try to do more, they mostly lose patience. Also, try to do this when there are not many other customers as they get impatient waiting while your coins are counted.

Money Changers:

If you have ₪10 worth of smaller coins to change provided some coins are 1 Shekels or 50 agarot coins, they might change it. But not if they are all 10 agarot coins. Mostly, they lose patience.


The pharmacy near us is almost always out of small change and very happy when we go in with pre-counted and packaged bags of coins. Check with them how much they will take at a time and only do this when there are no other customers as it takes time to count out.


Some stores are very happy to receive small change. Check with the stores in your area and find out what day of the week they would be happy to change your small change for larger money.

Bus tickets:

Bus drivers tend to be in a hurry. Mostly they don't have patience for someone paying with small money or with ₪200 note. If you use 10 agarot coins, use just 1 Shekel worth or less.

If you swap your small coins for larger money in a jar and keep using it, actually you will be surprised how easy it is to find 50 agarot worth of 10 agarot coins here, a Shekel worth there and so on.

IF you are really frustrated with your small change, many Gemachim will accept them. You are welcome to be in touch, with another Kallah coming to Chuppah, all donations are greatly appreciated even in small coins. 

What to do with 5 agarot coins is a topic we have already covered.

We hope this post has been beneficial for you. If you have further questions or have any thoughts, please post them below. 

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

Thursday, 12 March 2015

How Well Are You Integrating Into Life in Israel?

Do you ever stop to wonder if your Aliyah is successful? What kind of indicators do you have or have you thought of as to whether you have integrated into life in Israel?

For some it might be, did they manage to purchase a house. Well that is something pretty major. Yes, that could be a sign that you have made it living in Israel. However, there are some who manage to purchase an apartment or house in Israel and yet hardly ever live here. Hm, what else can we use as a measure as to whether you are integrating successfully into life in Israel?

Last night I had an inkling into what being accepted here is about. For a while now I have wanted to have a group of women in my home learning together, reciting Brachot and Amen together, giving each other some Chizuk. On two occassions, I did manage to invite some kids in the area on a Shabbat day to recite Tehillim and them some Brachot. But it's not quite the same as women your age with whom you can interact. I had tried inviting English speakers and somehow it did not quite happen.

Then a few days ago I was speaking to a neighbour a few buildings away and she offered to bring some of her friends around. Here we had the start of what I wanted, not with English speakers though but with Hebrew speakers.

The time arrived, I had prepared what was necessary and the women slowly arrived. While those who arrived early and I sat waiting, we chatted a bit to get to know each other. Suddenly I pinched myself. Here I was with 6 other women of my age, chatting away and planning the evening together all in Hebrew. They had accepted me enough to chat like a friend and I was understanding what they said and answering sometimes in a manner like an Israel, such as the way I answered "כן, כן" as in "yes, certainly."

If you would like one tip as to how to make your integration into living in Israel successful it would be learn Hebrew and get to know the Israeli's. While it is good to interact with English speakers, get to know your Israeli neighbours. When you can chat with a group of Israeli's in Hebrew just as easily as you would with English speakers, then you have mastered something great.

For some reason they say, "when in Rome do as the Romans do!" Well, I say when in Israel, speak Hebrew with the Israeli's. 

What do you do to help your integration to be successful? Have you taken time to learn Hebrew? Have you met your neighbours? Have you invited them over for tea, coffee or any other time to chat and have some nosh?

Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised as to how friendly and welcoming they can be.

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

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Amusing Sight in Israel

You never know what you are going to see when sitting on a bus and especially when the bus is stopped at a traffic light. A few days ago I was on a bus traveling towards Rehov Jaffo in Jerusalem when I noticed this building. It is still under construction and it is not the first time I have seen this building. What caught my attention was the flags. I wonder if the building constructor is a Chabadnik or if he has Chabad backing this venture or if the project is for Chabad or if he had a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe? Whatever the reason, this is one of those only in Israel moments. I doubt I would see such a sight / site in South Africa, for example. I cannot speak for other countries as I don't know them as well.

I stand to be corrected but felt this is something that is special about being in Israel.

Actually, thinking about it a little more, I am noticing lots of banners going up. This one supports Gimmel, that one supports another party. Hm, I wonder if the ones building this new building are voting for Moshiach? Now that would be an awesome plan. 

Anyone else ready for Moshiach to guide us instead of people who keep making mistakes?

What are your thoughts? Do let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Getting into the Spirit of Purim 2015

Aside from preparing Mishloach Manot, the streets of Israel are lots of fun with kids dressed up in fancy dress. Every so often one sees adults or teens dressed up too.

At the local Mall, someone came with battery operated little cars, here a Kallah (bride) and a little boy (can't see from behind how he is dressed up) are preparing for their 10 minutes of fun in these cute little cars.

One little "fireman" is very busy playing with his friend, both are in fancy dress.

 In the aisle at the supermarket, a 'chef' is waiting her turn.

Never too early to become an astronaut!!

So many little girls just love to dress up as a bride. This one is joining her family shopping probably for the Purim Seuda.

It's a lot of fun to be in Israel for Purim time.

What are you doing for Purim? Are you dressing up too?

Have you put aside your Matanot Le'Evyonim? Don't forget to help the needy while you are busily enjoying the fun aspects of the day.

Have a very joyous Purim!

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Preparing for Purim in Jerusalem 2015

In two days time it will be Purim and this is one of those special times of the year when being in Israel is THE BEST place for a Jew. You just need to take a walk down the road and you will find all kinds of stores filled with costumes and gifts.

 Whether it is the entrance of a store that sells an array of accessories..

 The corner kiosk that usually sells snacks, drinks and flowers.

A sweet store or a stationery / hobby shop..

Everyone is involved in the theme of preparing for Purim.

There are all kinds of baskets, pretty bags and containers, nosh, treats and more..

With all the excitement, one of the very special central themes of Purim is to take care of those in need. This is done by giving Matanot Le'Evyonim, which in English is gifts to the poor. These gifts are not the pretty gifts with chocolates, drinks and other nosh. These gifts are monetary ones to help those less fortunate or in need for whatever reason to have the finances to pay for their expenses.

We hope you have enjoyed the photo's that illustrate the atmosphere of Israel and invite you to join us in giving Matanot Le'Evyonim.

Please visit our website or be in touch. Purim is JUST two days away to time is of the essence.

We look forward to hearing from you

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Purchasing a New Washing Machine in Israel

It's a given - clothes get dirty! In the old days - before washing machines - clothes were cleaned with one's own hands and a basin (or the like.) Today, it's automatically assumed that every household owns a washing machine (and probably a fridge and stove/oven too!) We can take it all for granted - as in the assumption, and presume it's just always there when we need it. 

For new Olim as well as old, purchasing a washing machine for their homes can be an exercise in itself. How much are they? Which brand should I purchase? How long will it last for? There are a bunch of questions. Of course for the new Oleh - it's about trying to understand pricing first and then dealing with brands and future life expectancy. But for the old Oleh whose machine is beginning to sound like it's about to take off as it bangs and crashes across the entire Mirpeset Sheirut (מרפסת שירות) - the "service balcony" often used to keep things like washing machines on them - knowing when to buy can make all the difference in wasting one's money or doing things properly.

For those with wealth, the decision is an easy one. Throw the old machine away and get a new one! For those struggling financially and watching with tears in their eyes as their machine gives in, the only option can be to bring in a technician to fix it and hope it will work for another good few years. But it's not so simple - and here's why;

While for some reason the minimum wage in Israel is just about some ₪24 per hour (currently), those working privately can charge practically anything - and usually do. Here then is the reality. When your machine begins to give in, you may feel calling in Mr Fix It will be your best decision. However, do not forget that he may well charge some ₪200 just for his evaluation call out. He may find something wrong and attempt to fix it - or he may tell you it's not fixable. It will still cost you that call out fee. If he does find a way to fix it - you'll have done well! If not, he may well leave you with your old broken machine - and another ₪200 out of your pocket. You could of course call in someone else to take a look. But it may cost another ₪200. If he doesn't get it right - you may feel you'd like to try just one more person... Do the math for yourself.

Consider a new machine. It may cost ₪1000 for a simple - yet decent machine. You'll order it, have it in a couple of weeks and your washing will be clean again! Although it may cost more money-wise, there's a lot of aggravation you may avoid and you will actually be getting your ₪1000 worth of working machine! Don't forget, that if you'll be using the Mr Fix It approach, you may also find yourself for a couple of months without a machine as he attempts to consider different ways of repairing the machine - often turning around to tell you that he simply can't. You will need to do your washing by hand until he tells you this.

If you choose to purchase a new machine - which you may find easier to deal with in the long run than have to consider the expenses and time involved for the trying-to-fix the other one approach, you'll need to choose something reliable. There are two types you can go for.

There is the top loader which allows you to put your washing into the machine from the top. There is also the front loader which allows you to put your washing in from the front. One advantage of this machine is that you can also put something else on top of the machine - which you will never be able to do with the top loader. Having asked others and searched the Internet for more info, I have heard people say that top loaders are better - though nobody has been able to substantiate this is in any way whatsoever. Did you know that many of the front loaders have a feature called "economy" wash? What this means is that you will save money on electricity if you use the economy mode. A disadvantage - which is rather strange - is that the washing will take at least two to three times as long as an ordinary wash!

When you order your new machine, you'll have to consider how to get the old machine out of your home and what to do with it - especially if it really doesn't work right any longer! I have heard of there being people who assist, but have mostly met unsuccessfully with such people - who can charge up to ₪200 to remove the old machine. If of course you're into weight lifting, you can always put the machine on your own shoulders or maybe just tuck it under your arms and carry it down the six flights of floors you may live on! Legally - I cannot comment on the problems involved in just leaving a machine next to the garbage bins! So make sure you do your homework before getting into any trouble!

Here's the really exciting news now. Once your machine is delivered, you may not connect it yourself. If you do this, you will automatically lose your guarantee for it! For some reason, Israel has set up a law that requires the company to remove the few pins that are in the machine during travel and thereafter plug the cord into the electricity and feed the pipe into the hole made for this purpose. You will need to call the person up (telephone number provided by the store you purchase the machine in.) Incidentally, an additional worker is needed for this job - and in certain instances will charge for this skilled service! In Israel, one really can get job doing practically anything and also find a way to charge for it!

From the time your machine is delivered, it can take up to two weeks to have someone come through to do the connecting - depending on where you live, so be prepared for an additional two weeks without a machine.

The issue of buying the new machine or trying to fix the old one is an individual one. Do remember though that in addition to spending money for fixing purposes - which may well be wasted - there will also be a greater time delay in being able to have your washing clean via a machine. What you choose to do is your own choice. The post is here to highlight some important points that you should keep in mind just about the time you see your machine hopping on the balcony, smashing into the wall, sounding like an aircraft about to take off - or showing any strange signs such as not opening, spinning forever, not releasing the water inside it and just about anything else!

Eliyahu Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Monday, 2 March 2015

Purim, Mishloach Manot and Matanot LeEvyonim

Can you believe it is Purim time again? The stores are filled with all kinds of goodies and reduced prices with attractive baskets to give as gifts of Mishloach Manot. 

Kids are selecting their costume to dress up and many adults join in the fun too. 

This year, sadly we did not have drivers to deliver our Mishloach Manos, but we still have a Mitzvah that you can join us in carrying out. 

That would of course be Matanot Le'Evyonim. In this case we are specifically assisting needy orphans in Jerusalem. If you have any Maaser or Tzeddakah money set aside for the purpose of giving Matanot Le'Evyonim, please support our campaign and help us to help those in need THIS Purim.

Why should YOU assist? Because together, we can change the world through Kindness.


Who is considered as poor? Here is a thought provoking blog post that will give you some ideas to think over.

Thank you for your assistance

Purim Somayach to Everyone.

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet


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