Saturday, January 30, 2010

Little Tree, Little Tree

In honour of Tu B'Shvat our shul had a tree planting yesterday afternoon. Channah and I went, as Rachel had a lot of work to get done.

After carefully measuring a location has been chosen for the tree.

Let the digging begin.

The compost is mixed with dirt.

Channah does her part.

'Yohanan' is ready to be planted.

Channah next to the newly planted tree.

When you plant a tree in a forest (as we did last year) you will never be able to find the tree again. This tree is going to grow and provide shade for kids playing outside of our shul. It is really neat that Channah will be able to watch the tree she helped plant grow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Waiting for the Saftey Net to Deploy

I am entitled to less benefits than most of my laid off coworkers because I worked for less than a year. The minimum financial cushion will hopefully be enough to find a job. The challenge is trying to figure out when I will receive the benefits in order to budget accordingly.

One benefit is called Pitzuim. It is kind of like an RRSP except that it is paid out every 6 years or with an option to cash out when your employment ends. In my case it works out to be worth approximatly one months salary. I had been left with the impression that it would be paid out with my final paycheck. I found out from the insurance agent just over a week ago that this would not be the case. Payout would be 40 business days from my last paycheck which occurs at the end of the month. That would put the payout after Pesach. I spoke to the insurance agent on Thursday. She thinks they can pay it out in 30 business days. To make things easier my last paycheck was supposed to place on Thursday. That did not happen. I am hoping that it is taken care of tomorrow as there is someone who volunteers to help Anglos at the Betuach Leumi office on Tuesdays.

The other part of the safety net is unemployment insurance. I did not meet the cutoff to qualify for full benefits. Instead I get half benefits which seems to be entitlement to the same amount for half the period of time. You can only claim unemployment twice in a four year period. It does nto matter how many days of benefits you collected. It means I need to be careful that my next employment opportunity is likely to be long term.

There are two steps to obtaining unemployment insurance. One is a trip to the unemployment office. They have been on strike for three weeks with no end in sight. The possibility of not receiving benefits was starting to make me seriously considering taking a shlep job to support my family. An e-mail went out late Friday that they would take a one day break on Sunday to service process new cases. This morning there was a carpool going down to the unemployment office.

We arrived 15 minutes before opening and there were about 50 people gathered outside the gate. It was funny watching the cars slow down as they drove by trying to figure out if they need to report or not. There was a sign off in the corner plus a number of warnings that it was only for new cases. Plus on the way in the security guard warned every fourth person. That didn't stop people from trying to report.

As usual it was typical Israeli bureaucracy. You had to know that you needed to show someone your Teudat Zehut to determine which line to wait in. There was also a form to fill out that you were unable to come earlier because the office was on strike. People were ordered to sit down, so you had to know where your place in line was. I recieved a card that is just slightly too big to fit inside my Teudat Zehut. I need to go back every Sunday morning to confirm I am unemployed. I was really nervous but the system was rather painless. I was out of the office in an hour and that is mostly because I didn't grab my spot in line fast enough amongst all of the confusion.

The other trip I need to make for unemployment benefits is a trip to Betuach Leumi (National Insurance). They determine how much your benefits are. They require your last 12 tlushim (pay stubs) to process your benefits. As I have not recieved my last paycheck I still can't go to get it taken care of. I am hoping that it will be done tomorrow, so I can get the ball rolling on Tuesday.

Check out my guest blog post on Unemployed Israeli.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cultural Differences. I prefer it this way.

Channah was playing on the Sesame Street website yesterday. This is the exchange the took place between Zoe (Elmo's girlfriend) and Channah.

Zoe: Do you know which holiday we get to dress up in costumes and people give us treats and candy? It is coming really soon. Halloween!

Channah: NOOOOO! It's Purim.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

פבואר = Shvat

Channah had her Rosh Chodesh party at Gan yesterday. For some reason she was super extra excited about it, compared to most months. We couldn't figure out why until Channah was on the phone with my MIL erev Shabbat.

Channah: Tomorrow is the beginning of February.
Me: Channah. Tomorrow is Shvat, not February.
Channah: I know. I was just telling her in English.

In summary, Channah can grasp the fact that her Hebrew birthday is 8 days before her English birthday this year (she has surprisingly chosen to celebrate her Hebrew birthday). She cannot grasp the concept that the months on the calendar are not interchangeable.

I wish I could use Channah's calendar to deal with some of the waiting periods with the unemployment pay out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Job Search 2.0 - Could This Be the One?

I had a job interview this morning for a really great position at a really great company. The problem is there is no direct way to get there via public transportation. The "Beit Shemesh Bus Lady" did a huge favour and helped figure out how to get there. I took a bus to the train station, train to Tel Aviv, walked to the bus station, bus to the interview in Yehud. She figured that the trip would take about 2.5 hours but to leave extra time just in case.

This morning I caught the 7:30 bus, which got to the bus station with a few minutes to spare for the 8:23 train. The wait for the bus in Tel Aviv was also very short, as I arrived at my stop shortly after 10:00 for a 1:00 interview. We thought that the closest bus stop would be a couple of blocks away. It turned out there was a stop adjacent to one of the companies 3 buildings.

As I had time to kill I wondered around the neighbourhood. There was a Supersol, so I was able to buy the really good chocolate milk powder. While walking I managed to leave the industrial area into a residential area. A man walking his dog flagged me down from across the street. He wanted 'tzedkah', 30 NIS to be exact. I gave him a shekel which many people in this neighbourhood are thrilled to get and will shower you with brachot. He argued with me that he wanted 30. I told him if he didn't like what I gave him then I would take it back. He continued to argue so I reached into his hand and took it back. I then went to a small park and finished one of the books I had with me.

12:00 I was tired of waiting so I headed to the interview. They were kind enough to start the interview early. I explained that the reason I was so early was I didn't know what the timing would be like with the various connections.

I thought the interview went well. They got a clear idea of what am all about and it was clear that this could be a good match. They gave me a basic logic test to see how I think as a QA person. I was given 15 minutes to come up with the answer. It was a lot of fun. There are going to be a total 4 different interviews and/or tests with each candidate before making a final decision. As the commute is long they will try to schedule tests on the same day to make things easier for me.

I don't know what the chances are of landing this particular job. It would be a tremendous opportunity. I should find out early next week if they liked me enough to bring me back for another interview.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Channah's new 'do

This was all her idea- she has been bugging me for weeks.