Monday, 29 June 2015

A Moment's Stock Check

A moment's stock check:

 A few days ago we spent some time doing a little video towards our next crowd fundraiser. We have a big job ahead of us, but doing the video I had to take note. We began all we do with ideas, skills and the space we have. We had no budget, no backing and many, many telling us to give it up and just do minimum wage work or go back to SA or go to Canada or UK. We are not yet where we want to be, but the video proves just how very far we have come.

So, even though we have not yet reached our goal, we'd like to say thank you! Thank you too all of you who have helped us get as far as we have. And to all those who say "I can't", we beg to differ. We invite you to take a look at the progress we have made as Olim with nothing and no connection and we say, well "Yes you can". How? Think of what you would really love, set yourself a goal, start where you are and take each step one at a time and each day one at a time and remember to do regular stock checks to notice the progress along the way.

I do admit that I have used my skills as an occupational therapist to begin working towards a lifelong dream. I realize that not everyone is trained as an OT and so I invite those of you who need a little help to be in touch. I do offer a service using my OT skills to help Olim to set realistic goals, to identify their dreams and to map out a path to help you to reach your dreams.  Do be in touch to schedule an appointment. If I could manage to be in Israel for over 12 years and to be working to reach my goals and dreams, so can you.

Have a blessed day everyone.

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Will Young Couples (and Others Without Their Own Homes) Ever Be Able to Own Their Own Homes in Israel? (Guest Post)

F.N.B - a friend on Facebook had the following to share regarding a new law that has just gone into effect in Israel. The law stipulates an increase in the purchase tax for real estate investors to 8%. Here's what F.N.B had to say:

Real estate purchase taxes for investors were supposed to go up to 8-10% on July 1st - but then suddenly two days ago the treasury dept changed the effective date to today causing havoc in the real estate market.

This whole tax increase thing is such BS because many of the apartments the treasury is trying to save for young couples are still not affordable to young couples making 10-15,000 ILS a month between two people.

If the goal is to help young people afford an apt then isolate apartments that suit younger people and offer incentives like 0% VAT on new projects and 0% Purchase Tax on first homes up to a reasonable threshold like 2,000,000 Shekel - better yet the government can release land for development at discounted prices and regulate the price a developer can charge on those specific projects.

Real estate is huge business for the government - 18% VAT on every new apartment sold plus 18% VAT on the cost of materials and services to build the buildings and on consulting fees like attorneys, agents, mortgages etc - plus Purchase Taxes and who pays the most in Purchase Taxes? INVESTORS - I highly doubt they think this will solve the housing crisis as much as they're hoping to gain higher tax revenues from investors.

At the end of the day - this change hurts everyone - especially young couples who can't afford to buy an apt on a 10,000-15,000 ILS a month household income - it's not enough to pay for life and save money for a 30% down payment plus expenses - and now that they still can't buy apartments, investors will pay more for these apartments and charge higher rents or not buy at all causing a rental crisis.

The winner in this game is the tax collector because once the dust settles, investors will buy and the taxes will be paid and rents will go up and nothing will change for the young people desperately trying to make ends meet.

The full article regarding the new tax can be read here: Treasury seeks instant investment property tax hike.

Welcoming Olim: Indeed, the housing crisis has become impossible to deal with for those earning minimum wage amounts, coming to Israel with no money at all, and for those just trying to get any start of life in Israel

Taxes areon the rise. Service providers (for real estate) are on the rise. Those selling are asking for more and are being able to invest further, however those who cannot make the start are left stranded. When will changes be made to assist those who have committed themselves to living in Israel and trying to make a start with limited funds? Are we encouraging others to come to Israel for the sake of convenience (everyone is doing it - you'll be okay - come on!) or are we serious enough to assist those in need of proper absorption? Where will help come from if not from those who have the ability to make real positive changes?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Genuine Creative Jewelry - Interview With a Professional Goldsmith in Israel

Welcoming Olim had the privilege of interviewing Lawrence Menachemson of Liors Fusion. Lawrence is a professional jeweler - and his work is stunning!

Welcoming Olim: Hi Lawrence! We've seen a little of your beautiful work! Can you share with us how you decided to become a jeweler?

Lawrence: I always wanted to be in the field of something creative. When I was still at school I had a friend who was studying jewelry design and manufacture. He would come and show the family what he was making. His father had passed away, and my father took it upon himself to put him through school. As a result of this, he was always coming over showing us his work.

Aside from this, I also come from a family where my father and grandfather were always making things and loved working with their hands. With all this, I made my decision to make jewelery.

Welcoming Olim: Thank you for sharing. That is very moving. Can you share a little of your training in the field?

Lawrence: I spent three years studying at technical college followed by doing my apprenticeship with three different companies over the next four years. This resulted in seven years total of study, after which I qualified as a goldsmith (a trade certificate.)

I'm not sure where my inspiration comes from, but I can say that nothing pleases me more than to take what G-d has supplied us as a natural resource and make something beautiful for someone to wear. It gives me happiness to know that a little bit of me is carried around the world for everyone to see!

Welcoming Olim: What inspired you to make Aliyah?

Lawrence: I made Aliyah in 2009. I had never left the comforts of what was home - South Africa - and the first time I left SA was to come live in Israel. I had in fact never been here before, but felt like it was my duty to come live among my people. So I left my home to come home, even though all my family and friends where still in South Africa. 

From the day I landed I felt like this was home and I finally had come home. As an aside, my late great grandfather was Israeli.

It turns out six years later I'm still here even after many years of struggling and yes, I still do struggle. Israel is not an easy place to live. It's extremely expensive and every day there is a new challenge, whether it's financial or something else; for some reason I'm still here. There are days when I think I've had enough and want to just pack it all up and go back to my family where it is more comfortable and way easier to survive, but something keeps me here. Israel is a magical place filled with a sense of belonging ...

Welcoming Olim: Did you need to learn any specific Hebrew to help you succeed in your work here in Israel? Did you need to learn terms or language that one might not learn in a regular Ulpan?

Lawrence: Hebrew is another challenge for me! I have never been a language person and even though I did Ulpan I still did not grasp the language. Six years later, and I still don't really speak Hebrew. I worked at a company for my first four years here, and learned the basic work Hebrew for my industry; but luckily for me most of my customers speak almost fluent English. I've also found that most of Tel Aviv speaks English so I have managed to get though surviving here on what little Hebrew I know.

Welcoming Olim: You mentioned you are very careful about setting honest prices. Can you tell the reader something about the pricing process and what they are getting from you? What is your experience and talent etc.? Is there something special you have designed that received award or recognition?

Lawrence: I was brought up to be a gentleman! Honest and loyal! So I use this unique quality when it comes to working with my customers. I truly believe that what comes around goes around and therefore refuse to do any wrong with customers. My prices are always based on the difficulty of the job and how long it takes me to do the job. I might be a little more expensive than some but my customers soon realize it's not the gold weight they pay for, it's a little piece of my soul they get which includes the skill, the quality, the uniqueness... When I say unique I mean it! I was born with facial palsy. The left side of my face is paralyzed. I was born like this and there is no fixing it. It is what it is. So first-impressions-people are not exactly sure how to react to me, but after a few minutes they realize I am not only different on the outside but I wear my heart on my sleeve, and inside I am warm and fuzzy!

I have 20 years of work behind me working at the bench with my hands and my mind together as one.

Welcoming Olim: Can you tell us about the school or class you are starting?

Lawrence: I have trained many students before and what usually has taken others five years to enable a student to become a goldsmith I have succeeded in three years. I've had examiners turn around to my students and tell them they best come thank me as most could not teach as well as I have taught them. Most of my apprentices have gone on to open their own jewellery businesses.

Teaching is another skill that has been passed down from my family. My mother, cousins and aunties are teachers at schools - so yet another skill I was blessed with.

Even though I was brought into this world different, Hashem gave me something most people have to work hard to get - talent, compassion, ability to take nothing and make something so beautiful and creative that people are willing to actually spend their hard earned money on. This pleases me, as I know something I created will outlive so many of us and will get passed down from generation to generation.

Welcoming Olim: Thanks Lawrence. It's really wonderful to see how much you enjoy what you do. We wish you the best of success in Israel and hope your work schedule is always full with satisfied and paying clients!

Please visit Lawrence's website and FaceBook page

If jewelry design is of interest to you, Lawrence is accepting students! The course is once a week, from 5pm - 9pm. This is a basic course for three months. For more information, please check out the schools page.

This interview is courtesy of Chessed Ve'Emet - Torah Learning Online and Acts of Kindness. Welcoming Olim is a subsection of Chessed Ve'Emet's activities.

Below are some of the stunning samples of Lawrence's work:

Monday, 22 June 2015

Honesty in Business - with video

Many Olim find that working freelance, privately, becoming an entrepreneur is necessary in order to meet their lifestyle goals on many levels. A question that comes up often is how do you set your price? In Israel it is typical to find a price you set being negotiated, bargained or altered. What is the best business response?

Let's take a look at a video from businessmen on business ethics

We hope you enjoyed the video and would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. To what extent do you strive to fulfill the business ethic of honesty in business?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Olim Business Conference THIS Friday!

Are you new to Israel? Or an Oleh and been here for a while? 
You are invited to join an exciting Event:
Olim Business Conference 2015
Living Smarter in Israel
 Finance, Banking, Real-Estate & Careers



Friday June 26th 2015 




 Tel Aviv Cinematheque

Entry – 20 ILS
Whether you have been in Israel for a year or over a decade, knowing how to work smarter with financial matters is crucial. Know what your rights are as an Oleh, and find the best business service-providers for the English speaking community. This conference will bring you tips, direct access to industry professionals, and interactive lectures from the leading experts to make Israel feel like home, whilst saving you money. We will also be hosting an executive level career fair, so come with your resume in hand.

Conference this Friday specifically for OLIM. 
HR reps looking for OLIM employee's from IBM, Cisco, Liveperson, Panaya, Amdocs and many more will be in attendance. 
Learn about your rights, taxes, buying/renting in Israel.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 2015

Do you have something that helps to keep you focused on living in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel)? 

Yesterday I had some business to take care of in the Old City of Jerusalem and hence, stopped for a bit at the Kotel (Western Wall). I had not been there for a few months and was interested to find a section at the back of the men's section was opened. I do not know the reason for this but it enabled me to get a nice photograph. 

Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the month) at the Kotel is definitely one of the very big benefits to being in the Holy Land. Spending a bit of time reciting Tehillim (Psalms) or any other Tefillot (prayers) helps one to remember what living in Israel is all about and what our goal should be. 

What is your goal? What is your motivator to sticking it out when things get tough? What helps to fill you with enthusiasm that Israel is the land where all Jews belong?

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Do post them in a comment on the bottom of this post

Shoshanah Shear

Monday, 15 June 2015

Practise Your Hebrew: Turtle's Flute (Story for Children - Video in Hebrew and English)

Green Sea Turtle grazing seagrass 
By P.Lindgren (Own work)

Here is a wonderful, sweet (famous) Brazilian folktale video about a turtle who played the flute! It is made for children and the script is of an "easy" Hebrew (depending on what that would be defined as!) The video is presented in both the Hebrew version as well as the English version, so you can watch it in English too and compare to check if you've understood the Hebrew well enough.

The Hebrew text is shown on the bottom of the video so that you can follow as the narrator speaks and see the words and hear how they are pronounced. It's a great way to learn Hebrew!

If you enjoy turtle stories, check out our own book for children, "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" - a story about a "tortoise" who finds his way to freedom! It's available on a wide variety of online book stores.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

On the Road from Rehovot to Yerushalayim

Last week we had the fun of traveling to Rehovot. I was a bit slow in taking photo's I do apologise, but here are two pics of the beautiful countryside seen on the return from Rehovot to Yerushalayim. Actually, there were fields with green, but it was not easy to get to the other side of the bus to photograph. Oh well, it gives something to do on the next trip. In the meantime, enjoy these few pics.

Beautiful country side. The beauty of Israel is certainly one of the BIG positives of living in the Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael.

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

Friday, 5 June 2015

A Visit to Rehovot

One of the great things about starting a service or Gemach is that one gets to meet all kinds of interesting people and to visit other areas of Israel. I had heard about Rehovot but not had a need to go there.

Earlier this week, a friend and I took a bus trip to Rehovot to take a look at some bridal gowns.As we got closer to our destination, I was happy to see an attractive park. I really liked the fact that there is lots of lawn and greenery.

 We turned the corner to discover an unusual Chanukiah

I have a few more pics of the return journey to Jerusalem (sorry, did not think of photographing on the way to Rehovot) and the view when one comes into Jerusalem. If you enjoy photographs of Israel, come back next week for a few more photo's.

In the meantime, if you are interested to find out the purpose of our visit, you'll find that on our website. 

Sorry to keep it short but Shabbat is coming. 

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

Shoshanah Shear

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thoughts on the Plight of Olim in Israel (Guest Post)


Zev Wolf shares his thoughts with us about making Aliyah. He speaks about the struggles, and takes an honest approach to the process and considerations to take into account. He gives us a fair view of things here and gives us the opportunity to consider how we can do better at integrating more successfully into the Land of Israel. Here is what he shares:

Being an Oleh myself who made Aliyah 16 years ago and then returning to the States after 3 years only to once again journey back to Israel 10 years later I can relate to the struggles and hardships of assimilating successfully into Israeli society. In my case I have Israeli parents so grew up with the language and culture and it was and is still difficult but definitely helped.

Learn your Hebrew. However, some of the things that helped me and may help others is to remember the Sabra mentality of being closed and aloof on the outside and warm and caring on the inside. It is necessary to speak up in this country even if it is not in your nature because otherwise you will get drowned out by the masses. For better or worse that is the culture and if you remember that it will help you immensely

Don't be afraid to ask for help and speak confidently. People generally want to help and telling them your story may move them to take action but don't expect that just because you are an Oleh you are entitled. Yes, I believe as a cross section of the Israeli society we have our own unique needs and desires and those voices should be heard, so yes, we should organize peaceful rallies because we must show that we are one, united and strong. Never be complacent. Israelis are fighters and so must the Oleh if they are to integrate into the Jewish homeland.

Thanks Zev for your thoughts!

If you're thinking of making Aliyah or have already made Aliyah and have some tips, experiences or just thoughts you'd like to share with the entire world - please email us directly. We'd be delighted to add your thoughts to our blog!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Making Aliyah? Here are Some Financial and Other Realities: Problems and Possible Solutions (Guest Post)

Biggest Issue for Those in Need of Gainful Employment

The biggest issue for those in their 30's to 60's is jobs - being employed in a job that uses their skills and pays a living wage.

Biggest Obstacles
  • The biggest obstacle is not having a high level of Hebrew, written (both block and cursive), comprehension, and speaking.
  • The second biggest obstacle is the illegal ageism which gets worse as the person ages.
  • The third biggest obstacle is having skills that were in demand in another region of the world but are not in demand in Israel.

Possible Solutions
  • Online Ulpan starting a year before Aliyah.
  • Once in Israel having a buddy who you can teach your primary language and they can help you with Hebrew.
  • Lobby the government to enforce current laws, educate employers.
  • Have NBN, JAFI and other organizations produce skills matrixes so people can retrain before Aliyah.
Other Obstacles
  • The biggest obstacle for a portion of Olim and most Israelis - the cost of housing, the cost of living in general. 
  • A large issue for those who come in their 50 and 60's - who have no family in Israel - don't have the issue now but can have the issue in another 10 to 20 years is the dearth of native language assisted living, nursing home, and hospice facilities around the country. Continuing Care Communities (active to death) are expensive and out of reach to most of us. As you age, and if dementia happens you revert to your native language - most places don't have staff that speak different languages. Look at how the elderly Holocaust survivors are treated then look at the world baby boomer population.
  • General language barriers - when you are sick, infirm, disabled, it is hard enough - not having personnel available to aid someone when they need it, be it clinics or the hospital needs to be rectified. Personally, Maccabi does have many people where I live that speak enough English for me to get by - and almost all the signs are in Russian along with Hebrew so people do get by but it's not optimal. The French and Ladino communities are still small but growing and they too need help in the health care related functions.
So here are 3 - I've heard many others - problems? Possible solutions?

Please feel free to share your own difficulties, challenges and solutions you have come across in your journey in making Aliyah by emailing us. We would be happy to include your own experiences and stories on our page.

~ With thanks to Stevie Sacks for this clear and direct post giving an insight into some of the challenges, difficulties and problems encountered in making Aliyah, and offering some possible solutions.

Stevie Sacks made Aliyah just over 11 months ago - in July 2014. She is the founder of the Lone Seniors Landing Pad Aliyah for 50+ solitary people making Aliyah - an information sharing and support group on Facebook.


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