Aliyah Planning: Finances

financial-guide-aliyahI made my semi-annual trip to my accountant’s office yesterday and, as usual, it was not a pleasant experience. This is in no way my accountant’s fault!  Rivki at Don Shrensky & Company is one of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met (i.e., she always tries to soften the blow) and she has the patience of a saint!  The main reasons that these visits have been so painful (financially and emotionally) is my pathetic Hebrew reading skills and lack of understanding of the differences between the American and Israeli tax systems for self-employed people. This is not Rivki’s fault as I just recently moved my business to their office from a different accounting firm.

As we reviewed the many red notices I received in the mail while she was on maternity leave, Rivki pulled up my accounts online and explained the thousands of shekels in penalties lodged against me by the various tax offices for a combination of errors and my lack of response to their overwhelming (due to my lack of Hebrew mastery) paper in the mail notices.  Rivki patiently and thoroughly explained every field on all the monthly & bi-monthly forms I am required to submit to Mas Hachnasa (similar to the US IRS), Bituach Leumi (national insurance – similar to Social Security + more) and Ma’am (the evil VAT – value added tax – people who have been making my life hell), as well as how I am supposed to calculate each and make the payments. Continue reading Aliyah Planning: Finances

Happy 65th Birthday Israel!

Tonight begins the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut – the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Similar to the 4th of July  Independence Day in the US, but different in that Israel observes Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron – Remembrance Day) the day before Independence Day to remind us of the fact that it was through the bravery, dedication and sacrifices of many that we are able to enjoy independence.

For my family, it’s also a celebration of our liberation from exile. I’m sharing this video for those who haven’t been blessed with the ability to come home.  Intended to be “a feel-good movie to brighten your day” ISRAEL21c produced Israel Shining Bright for 65 years to share with you the people and places that make Israel so special.

Want more? Continue reading Happy 65th Birthday Israel!

Israel Independence Day – How Independent Do YOU Feel?

takebackamericaIgnorance is DANGEROUS.

Yesterday I noticed this image in my Facebook stream – a friend had “Liked” it. I agree with the concept so I clicked through to the group that had posted it; a group named We, the People, will be heard.

Scrolling down their page I saw a lot of American Patriotic conversations and felt good until I came upon this one that infuriated me.


wtp-magen-david wtp-israel

Continue reading Israel Independence Day – How Independent Do YOU Feel?

12 Year Old Entreprenuer’s Revolution in Jewish Entertainment

aviva-krainessDuring the frenzy of preparing for Pesach, I received an email asking me to share this story on my blog.  I politely told the sender – the father of this amazing 12-year-old – that I was busy cleaning, shopping and cooking (and suspected that most of you were too)  and that I’d get to this after the holidays.

I’ve been extremely busy, but was slowed down this morning by a priority shift – my Mom is in ICU again.  So when the reminder of this message popped up again I decided not to put it off any longer and as I read it, it hit me! I know this child!  Aviva Krainess was in my son’s kindergarten and possibly first grade class back in Cleveland and made Aliyah around the same time we did.  And I remember her name being on my (and Young Israel’s) Tehillim list for a very long time.  Aviva’s story of battle and triumph is inspiring. Amazing!

Please watch the video, read the story and share Aviva’s exciting project with everyone you know who could benefit from a bit of inspiration and love. Continue reading 12 Year Old Entreprenuer’s Revolution in Jewish Entertainment

Irena Sendler the Hidden Holocaust Hero

irena-sendlerNew records, facts and stories are constantly coming to light which provide fresh perspectives for Holocaust studies. Some of the new information comes from survivors while other data is ascertained by researchers. One particularly moving account of heroism during the Holocaust was uncovered by a group of Kansas high school students whose dedication to publicizing the unique story that they discovered led to the creation of a wide-ranging project, Life in a Jar, which developed into a book, a website and a performance which has been viewed by thousands of people throughout the world.

In 1939 Irena Sendler, a young Polish social worker, joined the Zegota, the Polish underground which was dedicated to helping Poland’s Jews escape from the Nazis. By 1942, with the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Zegota sent Sendler into the ghetto in the guise of a health inspector, to ascertain what could be done to save some of the Jews interned within the ghetto walls. Continue reading Irena Sendler the Hidden Holocaust Hero

Remembering the Holocaust in Meaningful Ways

There is no doubt that Yom HaShoah holds significant meaning to individuals whose families were directly affected by the Holocaust and for anyone who has a close bond to the Jewish people.  I don’t know about other Jews by Choice, but for a long time I had difficulty making a connection to this “holiday”.

Growing up in the American public school system in the 60s & 70s,  I can’t recall ever learning about the atrocities of that time period.  I admit that history wasn’t one of my favorite subjects, but I did dutifully memorize the facts I was tasked with for final exams. However, since when presented with history regarding injustice (e.g., slavery, civil rights, etc.) the activist within me stirred and I not only remembered the stories but also wrote reports and articles expressing my disgust and commitment to creating a better world,  why did I have such little knowledge of the Holocaust? This certainly leads me to wonder about the history curriculum in my NY public school, and with the watering down and rewriting of history in the interest of political correctness I can only imagine what else isn’t taught today.

It wasn’t until I was studying Jewish history in preparation for my conversion that I learned the details through many books I checked out from the JCC library (a wise rabbi advised me to learn everything I could about the Holocaust so I would be better prepared to make an educated decision regarding aligning myself with a nation that continues to be persecuted). Eventually I decided that despite the past – or maybe because of it – I would join the Jewish nation.

For the next 3 or 4 years I was obsessed with the subject, watching the new book releases for more first-hand stories like these: Continue reading Remembering the Holocaust in Meaningful Ways

Counting our Many Blessings

soldier-shipFrom the awesome view of Jerusalem and our ability to easily travel there whenever we want, to the variety of kosher l’Pesach foods, the feeling of connectedness with everyone we meet, perfect holiday weather, and the smiles on the faces of the kaleidoscope of nationalities blending into Am Israel, we feel so extremely blessed to be living in this Holy Land! And that’s just the simple things… then there are the incredibly humble yet learned Rabbis who provide us with their sweet guidance and the men and women of the IDF who joyfully serve our nation. [continue to video…] Continue reading Counting our Many Blessings