Tzvi Szajnbrum
To ease the immigration and absorption process for Olim

Guide for Dummies: The Social Services in Israel

How to deal with The Social Services in Israel involving conflicts with minors or spouses

Recently, people have asked me about social workers and social services in Israel.  So, I have decided to write this “Guide for Dummies” article to answer some of their questions.

In the courtroom lawyers are referred to as’ “attorneys of law”;

Judges hold very high respect often being referred to as, “your honor”;

A clinical Psychologist is a certified Doctor;

But social workers are not referred to with respectful titles;

The requirements to become a social worker are far less demanding then a Psychologist, Lawyer, or Judge. This is very disturbing because, in Israel, a social worker’s recommendations usually weigh in as much as a Certified Psychologist, Lawyer or Judge.  Their power does not reflect their actual qualifications.

As a result, during the past decade Social Workers have created a “de facto” power never given “de jure” to them by anyone.  For this achievement, they certainly deserve the French term, “chapeau”.

How could this have happened? How did they become so powerful? Why are judges constantly giving them power that they don’t have? Don’t deserve and don’t know how to use properly?

There is no intelligent answer I can give you without researching a lot of sitting judges and members of the parliament.  But this is not the point of my article. My article is about how to deal with social workers in the Israeli system.

In my opinion, the best way to deal with Social Workers is to cater to their egos.

The first step when dealing with a Social Worker is not to contest them. A simple continuous nod of your head while they are speaking often allows you to admit a subtle “guilt” without incriminating yourself. They are Social Workers, so they seem to think they are always right.  So you should let them think they are always right.

Of course you know your kids better than any social worker. But they think the opposite – they know better.  They think that they know everything after just a visit or two.

Don’t forget and don’t underestimate you are the ones raising these children, feeding them, loving them and trying hard to provide them with the tools and resources to become productive members of society when they become adults.  You love them when they are good and try to maintain the love when they behave badly. Sometimes this can be difficult.

Social Workers usually do not really know what goes on in your household as well as you.  But, unfortunately, you need to adhere to their advice, especially when there is any type of complaint been examined by the social services.

Don’t be condescending or defensive with them.  In their mind they think they are helping. This is their job. They are there to determine fault. This is what they are taught. If they find fault and win it is like a feather in their cap. Don’t take that away from them.

Be on your guard!  Don’t tell them all the problems you are having with your children or with your spouse because whatever you say can and will be used against you in court.

They will turn things around and paint you as an unfit parent.

Do not argue with them. Trying to argue with them is a waste of time. This will only cause you and your children additional hardship.

As much as you would like to; don’t use social media to bash them. This will usually backfire.  No one is interested in your complaints and you would leave yourself vulnerable to a libel suit.

Try not to be over emotional. You are not supposed to be over emotional when parenting. You are “supposed to be, calm, cool and collective at all times” regardless of what horrible things your kids, your spouses or even yourself have done or accused of have done.  If you are over emotional the court may consider you to be lacking basic parental skills, an unfit parent or need to be under scrutiny of the Social Work System.

Don’t despair or give up. If you have the means to hire an attorney who specializes in this field, then hire one but don’t wait until things are really bad already.

If you have the means to hire a professional social worker who works as an independent then hire one but again, don’t wait until things are really bad already.

Assess the situation. If you can modify your parenting to easily “adapt to the recommendations” set forth, then do so.

If it is easier to, “play along” to keep things status quo in your household, then do so.

The last and most important rule of all is “If you can’t beat them, then join them” or at least FAKE you are.

About the Author
Passionate about helping new immigrants, Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law and Notary, founded the Voleh Organization, through which he and a team of volunteers provide “pro-bono” guidance to English speaking new immigrants, helping to ensure their successful integration into Israeli Society. As a former officer in the Israeli army, Tzvi is also able to help lead new immigrants in the right direction regarding the IDF. CEO of The Szajnbrum Group