Posts Tagged 'life in Israel'

Work and pray in Israel high-tech

dina 1 (3)When I started working at my current IT company in 2000, we (the religious employees) would have an makeshift mincha prayer in the lobby of the company gym each day at 1:30pm, and we’d get a minyan of about 15-30 men. It wasn’t the idea place to pray, but it wasn’t possible to get a permanent time reservation for a conference room, and none were big enough in any case. We used a shoebox to hold the small paperback prayer books, a tzdedaka box and some kipas for the occasional non-religious guys. Someone later donated about twenty Sephardi mincha/maariv siddurs, which we had to put away after each session. The nusach style of prayer depends entirely on the hazan and tolerance is high enough to accept any flavour such as Edot Mizrach, Chabad, Sefarad and Ashkenaz as well even though that is a minority.dina 2

After a few years, we decided to try our luck with HR (human resources) and ask for the company to set aside a room or two for a dedicated synagogue. While we were officially ignored, off the record we were told that if we were given a synagogue, then other people might demand their own place of worship. We had to accept that answer, but nonetheless, all this time, we did appreciate the access to the area during off-hours the gym.

On fast days, we could not bring a sefer Torah, so we had to close down and recommend people go into the nearby cities for alternatives.dina 3 (2)

As we gradually grew in size, we moved into the actual training room with the gym equipment but later, the gym was closed and turned into more office space, and we had to move to a basement hallway in another building . Our new location was able to fit more people, and a combination of growing number of religious guys as well as a wish to offer an additional minyan, gave us the encouragement to open a new ‘second-chance’ mincha at 4pm. Someone donated a shelf and we were able to give a more proper display for the prayer books.dina 4

We never gave up on looking for some place else because this location had disadvantages of having the people come through (some would be considerate and wait, others could not [be expected to] wait 10-15 minutes), and we were continuing to grow, with overflow into side hallways as the company grew and adjacent companies began to populate the building expansion and their employees joined as well. Around 2011, we decided to go over the heads of the HR department and
approach our company maintenance / operations department for a better location. This time we were happily surprised beyond our highest expectations. The company was still not going to allocate any office space but they decided to relay our request to the building complex owners who happily accepted the idea with no hesitation.dina 6

Over the next few months, adjacent to a busy intersection, yet tucked discretely into a quiet side of a typical glass covered IT office building, a contractor closed off a section of the parking lot and turned it into a fully furnished synagogue that can seat over 50 as well as a women’s section (who also come), with aron kodesh (including a cage to lock in a sefer Torah), and a nicely stocked library with more siddurim and seforim – all donated by the building owners with no strings attached except the name of a family matriarch for this small chapel now called Ohel Dina. On fast days, a Torah is now brought by one of the workers and we can have a regular prayer with reading, and the attendance swells to more than double the usual (including standing room). During the wintertime when the sun sets early, we also organize a Maariv prayer. When there is a mourner, he does not need to search for a nearby synagogue, and there are never any struggles to be the hazan either. The synagogue is open to all people who work in the area’s office buildings and visitors. Having this synagogue at work is really convenient and another awesome reason to live in Israel.

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Response to Mom

Recently one of our potential aliyah families recieved a “letter from Mom”. “Mom” was trying to convince her children not to take her granchildren to “the war torn” Land of Israel.

The members of our Facebook discussion group responded to the letter. Here’s one of the responses, written by Jerry and Sylvia (New York-Ariel, 1996):

Dear Mom and Dad,

I understand your love and concern for our welfare living here in Israel. I know that the reports you get in the States make Israel seem like a dangerous place to live but that is not the reality of life here. There are so many families our age with young children who have made Israel their home. Living in Israel is a vigorous and challenging experience which offers the opportunity to give meaning to your life that outweighs the negatives that confront us here.

Some times one has to make decisions that are not easy but are the right ones. I feel that a lot depends on what one’s values in life are. Our values are not based only on material success that leads to a life of comfort and ease. Therefore, we feel that our decision to live here is the right one for us.

Contrary to the reports in the media, Israel is a safe place to live and to bring up your children with Jewish values. In Israel, children are extremely important, not only to their parents, but to the people of Israel in general. They are a cherished possession. Schools are very good, education is high, and it is combined with religious education as well that enables them to understand the meaning of their Jewishness.

As to your concern for employment, there are many opportunities here that one can take advantage of. Eventually, one finds their place in the workforce just like in any other location one finds themselves in. Mom, as far as health care in Israel is concerned, here it is socialized medicine and for not a lot of money, one receives excellent care. By the way Mom, Israel is in the forefront of modern medical advances and achievements that are acknowledged worldwide. Health care in Israel is so much more affordable than it is in the States that one cannot begin to compare to the exorbitant cost of health care in the States.

We feel we have made the right decision – it really feels good to live here in a Jewish country — and know that we are contributing to the growth and wellbeing of Israel by living here. Of course, we will miss you and the whole family and we understand your fear of coming here to spend time with us but hope and pray that over time you will see that this is a safe place to visit. By the way, Mom, tourism in general is flourishing. And don’t forget that we can also spend vacation time with you in the States.

Mom, I really hope you will come to understand that Israel is not the dangerous country you think it is. Daily life here is safer than in the States and is far more rewarding. I understand your fear for us but it is based on reports that only give one side of the picture. We do not live in fear, we live with the knowledge that this is where we belong and that our children will grow up in a Jewish country with a full Jewish life and values. This is our land; we are not just here to live the “comfortable life” but to have our lives have meaning and to have our children value their heritage and to know what it means to live a complete Jewish life in your own country.

Mom and Dad, I love you and hope that in time you will come to understand the decision we have made.