Zelda Harris
Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

My Israel..today!

It started off as a perfect day.  I allowed myself time to get to the bus that would take me to the Machon Mor Medical Centre in Bnei Brak, where I would undergo an X ray of my eyes.  I  had checked the bus schedule on Waze and Maps.  After more than half an hour wait at the bus station under  the burning rays of the unrelenting sun, I decided along with other hot and sweaty people among them students and soldiers, that the number 40 was not going to show.

We all walked up a hill to another stop hoping for a better result. I then realised that I was already late for my appointment. Fortunately I managed to stop a taxi and even offered others a ride, but they were going further afield.

On my arrival at the Medical Centre I was directed to the eye department. There I was cordially received by a lovely woman who processed my papers and asked me to wait. The pleasantly furnished waiting room was fairly crowded but there prevailed a sense of order and calm. After only a few minutes eye drops were administered by a smiling young technician and then I waited until called for the X ray procedure.

I had noticed a handsome grey haired white-coated male moving around among the patients and wondered whom he was. Suddenly my eyes became blurry my pupils enlarged and then the call to enter another room. There and behold blurry or not, in front of my eyes was the aforementioned man.

He introduced himself as the Head of the Department Eithan Priel and proceeded to examine my eyes.

He asked me after he had completed his task if I was satisfied with the service I had received. I answered in the affirmative and added ” I am truly appreciative of the attention I received today.  In fact  I cannot grumble about Kupat Cholim Clalit. Having been in Israel since the early days I am full of admiration for the standard of our health services.  I can remember the primitive conditions under which everyone worked in the old days. Today’s experience highlights the fact since the advanced technology is  impersonal, the attitudes of the staff towards patients are all the more important.”

He agreed. We both realised that we were English speakers — he with an American accent and me with a British one — and then our conversation moved to why we lived here.We also shared the experience of having left Israel and returned.

He asked me if I would comment for the sake of his staff on what I felt about the treatment I had received. He said they need to know. As I left I saw him bending down to a young child whom I had spotted while waiting. I had smiled and asked her if she too was going to see the eye doctor. I knew that she was in good hands.

So not everyone has positive experiences and our health system is under stress, that is evident wherever we go. Isn’t that sad…we pay our taxes (at least some of us do) and we expect that our transport and medical services as well as everything else that pertains to the average persons’ welfare  will be taken care of.

We are constantly fed a diet of “How much security costs” in relation to cuts in every direction and a malaise in tourism due to the exorbitant prices in our hotels and accompanying services and so on, but nothing changes. Is there so little hope for optimism?

Yet everyday more and more corruption scandals erupt. How do these “criminals” go unfettered until someone somewhere, discloses something? If you or I failed to pay our electricity or water bill that would result in fines or worse.

After I left  Machon Mor  and  stepped into the blinding sun I realised that I was hungry. I stopped at the first bar “Baguette Mor” (almost French?).

I didn’t want “baguette” so ordered a tray of delicious salads and some fish balls. I attempted to eat the food but then asked if they would wrap it up for me to take home. It was a family affair. The father, son and teenage daughter were all on hand as I fumbled with my bag and the parcel. At that moment, my vision was limited and I needed to get a cab to take me home.

I was so moved by their kindness and said that I would mention them in the blog I intended to write. They insisted on “sefies” that I will post on Facebook.

Again another heartwarming experience.

I managed to hail a taxi  and after the driver ascertained where I was going he said  “Will 70 shekels be OK”?  Was it my British accent or the fact that I am an elderly person that he had the audacity to ask that amount of money? I knew that the trip in the morning had cost well under 30 shekels. I exploded and he put on the clock!

You can’t win them all, but that’s my Israel…..today.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.