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Putting the Pieces Together

I have a somewhat quiet passion for puzzles. My family just finished a 3,000 piece puzzle. It took around four months and lots of time spent trying to jab pieces into places that just didn’t fit. Some pieces you just know are supposed to go in certain spots and you try dozens of times to make them fit…to no avail. It’s only when the puzzle is complete that you can look back and find those “trouble” pieces and see that they actually belonged somewhere completely different. Sometimes, you can struggle to find one piece for days, and then someone else comes in and in twenty seconds, they say, “Were you looking for this?” With a look mixed with incredulousness and self-doubt you sheepishly respond “Uh, yeah…”

Life is obviously one huge ever growing puzzle that we are constantly trying to get ahead of and complete. There are some challenges that interlock neatly and we are able to move on from quickly and effectively and there are some challenges that we keep on trying to solve the same way over and over and over, until finally, we figure out that our approach was completely wrong. 

Making a living is a challenge that is constantly evolving and requires constant energy and focus. We are given many hundreds of “pieces” – resources and assets – in order to complete the puzzle. They are all multi-colored and many do not seem to fit anywhere and are left unused for long periods of time. We sometimes try to use the same resource, the same mindset over and over again and can’t figure out why it doesn’t “fit.” Oftentimes, we need to stand back and look at the picture from afar to see that we were way off in our assessment and we need to recalibrate.  Many times, we need an outside perspective to come in and direct us to where that piece should have gone the whole time. 

The world is rapidly changing and more and more people are starting to think about coming home. The aliyah process is a ginormous puzzle, with dozens, if not hundreds, of moving parts. One of the biggest sections of that puzzle is making a living in Israel. At Route 38, we can help you recalibrate your focus. Maybe the piece that you have been searching for is right under your nose. 

Could I really, possibly keep my job and just continue to work remotely (now that the pandemic has proven that it’s possible)? What are the ramifications for my employer and for me? How do I report and pay my taxes in either country? How do I approach my employer? What tools do I need to make this happen? If I absolutely cannot bring my job with me, what is the business landscape like in Israel? How do I operate a business? If I am looking for a new job, what do I need to know? What is accepted and how do I know that I am not being taken advantage of? 

There are so many questions. Route 38 has the answers. Our team of experienced American-Israeli professionals can help guide you through these concerns and map out a plan. Our vast network of service providers in dozens of industries can answer your industry-specific questions. We will give you the tools to take a step back and make guided informed decisions in order to complete the backbone of your aliyah parnassah puzzle. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Categories
Aliyah

A Message for Rosh Hashanah

As we all know, everyone falls and makes mistakes. The Talmudic commentator Rabbeinu Yonah points out that it’s one’s reaction to those transgressions that makes the person. If a person’s attitude is of horror and shame and he does teshuvah (he repents) then he has learned from his sin and will actually grow from it. If his reaction is – “this is cool, I’m going to try again,” or “I just can’t deal with this desire or need and I am just giving up on this battle,” well, for that our sages have some pretty tough words. 

G-d knows that he created us as fallible human beings. We make mistakes. We have our ups and downs. We are going to trip and do things that we are not proud of. That’s not good, but it’s acceptable, as long as we learn from those mistakes and grow from them. Hashem wants our hearts. He wants us to be focused on the true purpose of our existence, the true essence of our being, which is to serve him, build positive loving relationships in this world and create and build lasting sustainable good.  That is what He desires from us. Those are all part of a long journey, replete with hiccups along the way. If we stumble and get back up, we are viewed with the same loving kindness. If we fall and sink, Hashem still gives us an opportunity to get back on track, but we are now going to have to work much harder to get ourselves there.

Elul and Tishrei are usually times to look back at the year and focus on many of the things that we would like to change. 5780 was really, really challenging (understatement of the year). Many lost loved ones after long and protracted battles. Many went through their own health battles, whether COVID-19 related or not. Many lost their livelihoods or faced extreme uncertainty as to how they were going to move forward. Many had ambitious projects and plans that were collateral casualties of the pandemic. Anxiety and depression were probably more common than not. And no one has any idea what tomorrow or next month or 5781 will bring. We’ve all made some mistakes and said things that we really would like to take back. Many of those were born out of maddening frustration and dread.

But introspection also requires us to look back and appreciate all of the good that happened in 5780. We had the opportunity to really focus on our families. We remembered both the importance of our community, but also that we are individuals who can manage on our own. Many that were not able to be with their children received constant reminders of their families’ love. Zoom made us want to throw away our computers, but also brought family reunions with long lost cousins that we had not connected with in years. We had opportunities over the year to do things we never thought possible. Many began to realize that the borders of Israel were closed and began the journey of planning or at least considering Aliyah so that they could be inside instead of out. Countless acts of tzedakah and chesed that never would have come to the fore were enabled by the challenges that we faced. Many difficult interpersonal relationships were mended. And on and on.

See, we can focus on the daily drama and challenge and reflect on 5780 as a nightmare. Or we can choose to focus on what went right. We can focus on our overall outlook. 

We generally focus during this time of year on all of our faults. We do still need to work on those. But maybe it would be healthy this year to focus on all of the good that we have accomplished. Not to be haughty. But to present to Hashem – See? I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m striving. I’m doing my very best to fight through the hurdles that You have presented me so that I can be the best spouse, parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, community member, Jew that I can be. Here are my credentials. Please allow me to continue on this path, only maybe lighten up the hurdles in 5781. Please. I might stumble again, but I will not waiver in my commitment to You. Because ultimately, this is what Hashem wants from us. 

We wish you a sweet new year, full of blessings, success, health and joy from your family. May this be the year that the entire Jewish people find their home and livelihood in Israel.

Categories
Employment in Israe

Understanding Israeli Salaries

Whether you have lived in Israel for a number of years, are considering aliyah or are packing up to make the big move, one of your biggest concerns is surely how to make a good living in Israel. Stanley Fisher, former President of the Bank of Israel, famously remarked that he couldn’t understand his own salary slips. Salaries in Israel are made up of a number of components and understanding them is key to analyzing your financial situation. 

Let’s clarify some of the basic terms that are used to describe the required and optional tax and social benefit obligations in Israel. 

Ø  Bruto – Gross salary. Generally the base salary that is offered to you in a contract.

Ø  Neto – The amount of money actually deposited in your bank account on a monthly basis, after deductions of income tax and other required payments are removed. Note that the Israeli standard is to be paid monthly, not bi-weekly or bi-monthly.

Ø  Mas Hachnasa – Income tax. Incurred at a graduated rate. Income tax is removed automatically from your salary, and in most cases, there is no need to file taxes at the end of the year. Income taxes are calculated on an annual basis, yet paid out on a monthly scale. We will dissect this area in a later post.

Ø  Bituach Leumi – National Insurance coverage. Often compared to US Social Security benefits, but they are actually very different. (I’ll compare these two institutions in a future article.)

Ø  Keren Pentzia – Pension fund deposit. This is a mandatory benefit requiring the employer to pay a minimum of 6.5% of the monthly bruto total and the employee to deposit a minimum of 6% of bruto. Each employee has the ability to choose the investment option they prefer. This will also be the subject of a later post.

Ø  Kupat Gemel – Mutual fund investment. Similar to a pension fund in structure and purpose, but not mandatory.

Ø  Bituach Menahalim – Pension for managerial positions and above. 

Ø  Keren Hishtalmut – Translated as a “Study Fund.” The initial purpose was for an employee to accumulate a base in order to apply for continuing education. In reality, it now acts as an additional, optional short term tax free savings vehicle. Some employers offer this as an added benefit, but it is not available across the board.

Ø  Ovdan kosher avodah – Additional, optional long term disability insurance. This perk is generally only offered in the hi-tech sphere.

When you are offered a job in Israel, you will be told what the bruto salary is and what additional benefits (if any) are provided. An employer will not be able to tell you what your neto take home pay will be, since this is based on many factors outside his control. You can get an idea of what your neto salary will be by using this calculator.

Got any more questions about how your neto salary is determined? Comment below and I will respond.