Published December 25, 2023 2:11 PM IST
Chaim V’Chessed receives hundreds of inquiries each month regarding American citizen issues. The organization’s representatives have a long-standing relationship with United States Embassy officials, with the purpose of assisting the American citizen population in Israel.
Towards this end, senior staff of the US Embassy visited Chaim V’Chessed offices on December 7. The delegation was led by Mr. Wilbur Zehr, recently installed as Chief of American Citizens Service at the Jerusalem Embassy. Mr. Zehr was accompanied by Ms. Sarah Schuurman, Deputy ACS Chief and Mr. Adam Colvin, Deputy ACS Chief at the Embassy’s Tel Aviv Branch Office .
The Embassy officials arrived to learn about Chaim V’Chessed’s activities, and to dialogue specifically on issues and concerns relating to the English-speaking community in Israel. Chaim V’Chessed CEO, Rabbi Paysach Freedman, made a brief presentation describing the full gamut of the organization’s work. Following that, Mrs. Gitty Garfinkel and Mrs. Chana Rothstein of the Governmental and Bureaucratic departments raised various matters frequently relevant to the community.
An important topic which was raised was the impending Pesach vacation season, which typically sees many American expatriates returning to the United States. Annually, the pre-Pesach time is one of considerable pressure on the Embassy staff, as American citizens scramble to obtain passports to enable travel. Rabbi Freedman and Embassy officials discussed options to possibly alleviate the pressure prior to this crunch time. All parties agreed that it was beneficial to address this issue far in advance.
Another topic raised was that of appointments for first-time passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for newborn babies. These appointments are generally hard to obtain, and even when granted, are usually far off. Embassy officials shared that it is possible to plan ahead, and reserve appointments prior to an expected birth. The due date should be listed as the child’s birth date, and the applicant can be listed as ‘Baby’. However, the officials advised that such appointments should not be scheduled until at least two weeks after the infant’s due date.
Chaim V’Chessed representatives also brought up the matter of foreigners who live in Israel and whose health care coverage is dependent on having a valid passport. These foreign residents are often eligible for Bituach Leumi, but lose that benefit when their visa and passport expire. The Chaim V’Chessed representatives shared their extensive interaction with Israeli government officials in this area, and pledged to continue advising Embassy officials on this topic.
Rabbi Freedman warmly thanked the Embassy officials for visiting Chaim V’Chessed, and for their service to the community. All participants in the meeting expressed hope for continued cooperation, for the betterment of the American citizen community in Israel.