The Big Felafel


Stand up: My name. Aliyah. Bureaucracy. And a faxypack.

It’s not everyday you have a captive audience of 400 Israelis willing to listen to your trial and error approach to living in Israel. So, after winning a stand up contest that the New Israel Fund and Bet Hillel hosted in May, I decided to make my five-minute debut about just that: the new immigrant on the block. I was honored to take part in the stand up night, with the other five outstanding and hilarious women that took to the stage. Even better was the fact we were opening for the famously talented Orna Banai. What I also appreciated was how warm the audience was, even though I did my stand up in English. They listened and laughed, and I think they also could relate, even if they are not new immigrants. Bureaucracy is still bureaucracy.

It was a night I will never forget. And an opportunity I hope to have again in the near future.

To see the other ladies click here

I'm the one in pants, and Orna Banai is the the last black dress from the left. Please keep in mind I was 6 weeks after having my second child here...

I’m the one in pants, and Orna Banai is the the last black dress from the left. Please keep in mind I was 6 weeks after having my second child here…

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Yom Hazikaron: Remember those that have fallen and those that lift us up

Israelis mark Holocaust Memorial Day in JerusalemAs we celebrate our fallen soldiers throughout the many wars and plights for the state of Israel, it’s important to remember, on this day of remembrance, not only our fallen soldiers but our everyday heroes as well.

As a new immigrant, the move to Israel is more turbulent than just the plane ride. In fact, that may be the easiest part. It’s like you are suddenly playing the board game of life, but you keep landing on the squares that screw you. You jump from bureaucratic offices stumbling through conversations in Hebrew and not understanding a word, to trying to open a bank account, contract a cell phone and maybe even get internet. All the while you are crying, pulling out your hair and wondering what the hell you are doing here.

So maybe you didn’t cry as much as me (my tears could fix the water drought!). And maybe you didn’t pull out as much hair (with the right tools I could create my very own shaitel – wig). And just maybe you are more of a Zionist than me, so you didn’t want to pack your bags and take the next plane back. But I know you have fought many a battle with one of the above mentioned. I know you have had small victories and bigger defeats. I know the man has gotten you down.

But do not give up. Do not lose faith. And do not move back. We are here to make a difference. Each one of us will find his or her calling. I now know mine is to fight for consumer rights in Israel. My battle with Pelefone is over and I am the victor. Me! Me! Me!

pelephoneIn a previous post I wrote two months ago I told you about my ensuing battle with Pelephone. My complaints seemed simple enough: stop charging me for internet since I don’t use it or want it. And where is my contract because I never agreed to pay NIS 50 for this phone! My complaints were met with yelling matches between the customer service agents who do not believe the customer is right and managers who would rather belittle you then admit their faults. I was angry and deflated like a shriveled balloon. But somehow rather than exploding I came to my senses and decided to fight for my rights

I searched the web for consumer rights organizations and filed complaints. I demanded Pelefone for my contract and told them I would sue if I was not heard. I wrote my post and through the gift of social media, found support and help from strangers that have also struggled like me. And finally I found my Israel Israeli that could give me the confidence and will to fight until the end.

Everyone needs an Israel Israeli on their side. Israel Israeli is the person that comes into your life just when you are about to throw in the towel. He or she will not only encourage you to fight, but to fight hard. And they will even get on the phone and speak on your behalf, write letters and give you a high five for the small triumphs along the way. They will be there for you and never ask for more than a thank you for their efforts on your behalf. They will never give up. They will restore your faith. And you will not want to move back.

My fight with Pelefone is a not just a victory for me but a victory for all new immigrants who don’t believe the system works. Ok, so most of the time it doesn’t, but if you just commit to the fight and hold on to your Israel Israeli then you have a chance.

At the beginning of my battle with Pelefone, the manager told me I would never be able to cancel my internet charges. Not only have I successfully cancelled them, but Pelefone is refunding the last several months of charges. Also, my fight against paying NIS 50 a month for a phone that I remembered the customer service agent telling me would cost NIS 15—which at the time was a big deal for me since I was paying NIS 5 a month before that—was an accomplishment. Since Pelefone does not keep contracts (a standard practice for all cell phone companies) they had no proof of the original agreement. They told me they had given me a copy, which they did not, and said it was my responsibility to keep it safe. And what about them? Why didn’t they properly file a hard copy of the agreement? Well, after several letters, emails and phone calls (all with the help of my Israel Israeli) I stand before you today the proud owner of a phone that I now pay NIS 15 for!

Get empowered! Get help! And get an Israel Israeli! If you have issues, write them here and you will find that others will come to your aid. And since I believe this is my calling, I too will help you (and hopefully my Israel Israeli will be by my side).

Just like the heroes on the battlefield, there are also our everyday heroes that make a difference when it comes to the field of life. I thank my Israel Israeli for giving me the strength and knowledge to fight and win my rights as a consumer. I thank all those that have let me cut in line at the supermarket, slowed down their car to let me cross the street, gave me directions when I was lost, or just smiled when there was no reason to even make eye contact. Our country has survived because of the fallen soldiers that died for our right to live and because of our everyday heroes that give us the strength to battle on.