My family and I have been in Israel for fifteen years on student visas. Even after all this time, getting through the bureaucracy here is so incredibly frustrating. When you have questions, there is no one to ask. When you think you know the ropes, the rules change without you realizing. When you get stuck, you have to start all over again.
At least, that’s how it was before we got to know Chaim V’Chessed.
When our newest baby was born four months ago, our family student visa was close to expiration. We planned to wait until the baby’s passport was ready to renew the family’s visa. But circumstances became more complicated than we’d anticipated…
Our newborn left the hospital with a referral for an ultrasound that had to be taken care of as soon as possible. Babies in Israel are covered automatically by their parents’ health insurance plan for a month. But a mix-up at our health clinic pushed off the process, and by the time it was resolved, our baby was no longer covered by health insurance.
When in doubt, you call Chaim V’Chessed. That’s what we did. They laid out all the options for us. Our plan of action was to get Bituach Leumi (National Insurance) for our baby, and then go ahead with the procedure. To do that, we needed to renew all our visas.
Thus began the harrowing process of visa renewal and Bituach Leumi re-registration. At Misrad Hapnim, my husband was subject to all sorts of misinformation and indifference before they would look at our passports. He left Misrad Hapnim confused. We called Chaim V’Chessed to clarify all our questions. What a breath of fresh air it was to receive accurate information from an English-speaking organization whose goal was purely to help!
We thought we would get our visas in two to four weeks, like the visa department promised. But it did not take two weeks and it did not take four weeks. It took six weeks. By then Bituach Leumi was warning us that the whole family would be kicked off soon.
As soon as we had those visas, my husband went in person to Bituach Leumi to hand in our papers. We breathed a sigh of relief. And then we got notice that we were kicked off Bituach Leumi!
Calling the Bituach Leumi phone line did not leave us very hopeful. They said we were no longer registered and that they had no record of any documents.
Going to Bituach Leumi – and possibly to Misrad Hapnim again to get the necessary documents – would mean losing another entire morning of work and paying for documents that were lost by no fault of our own! In the past, that’s what we probably would have done. But this time, we called Chaim V’Chessed.
Their response exceeded our expectations. Rabbi Freedman himself devoted a full morning to sitting at Bituach Leumi and asking them all the questions that callers had brought to the organization’s attention. It turned out that we were indeed re-registered, but the phone system had not yet been updated. Case closed.
At every step of the way, what could have been overwhelming became manageable because Chaim V’Chessed was here for us. Just knowing they were there was so comforting! Here was an organization who could give us correct information and even intercede on our behalf. There was no need to grope in the dark – we did not have to do anything without knowing that it was right. It spared us time, money, and heartache. We are so grateful to Chaim V’Chessed for their wonderful work.