Monday, 25 January 2010

Ashdod Conference 2010 - What a way to leave an impression.

Today marked the 3rd Ashdod Conference for Aliyah & Klita, a conference which discussed the very essence of Aliyah and at the same time dug deep into the core issues that Olim are faced with on a daily level.

Honoured by the presence of many politicians, chair people, heads of and many others, the conference set out to show that Aliyah is taken seriously and is viewed as a valuable part of Israel, Israeli society and the Israeli economy. Speaker after speaker praised the Aliyot from various destinations, encouraged Oleh associations and organisations to continue the efforts to bring more Olim and all made promises to work towards further benefiting the Oleh.

However with praise, romance and honour came reality. It wasn't until the speeches were spoken and the coffee break concluded that the panels began to discuss the real and sometimes not so pleasant issues that come with being an Oleh. Employment issues, racism towards Olim, immigrant youth, were all just a few of the issues discussed thought out the conference.

Being in the midst of it all, sitting deep in the audience, I heard comments in Russian, Amharic, English, French and Hebrew. The comments we not necessarily pleasant or positive all the time, but without a doubt, they were passionate. Passionate about the Oleh, Aliyah and what it means to be living in the Cholent Pot that is Israel.

People will have their comments about whether this years conference was good or bad, interesting or not. Either way, it left people passionate and that will no doubt lead to stronger efforts and even harder work than what already is put in towards benefiting the Olim that continue to arrive.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

One small step for Bituach Leumi, one giant leap for Israeli bureaucracy!

The Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) continues to impress me with their advances in technology and improvement of customer service. It all started when they updated their website to become significantly more user-friendly, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that they have all the information in English!

The day I saw that new website, I went home and had a good night's sleep as I knew that the Oleh would have a much easier experience understanding the details surrounding this complicated government office.

However today I became even more pleased and impressed with Bituach Leumi when I learned about their new "Personal Online Service". By registering for this service you are are able to bypass your local office and avoid the lines. While many may be skeptical of this as it is a new service, I have my hopes up. If Bituach Leumi has taken this step forward, we can only hope that the rest of the bureaucratic offices will follow suit.

Well done Bituach Leumi - my hat goes off to you!