Taxation, banking, insurance, pensions and so on are not the most romantic aspects of aliyah. There will be those who blithely ignore such matters, carried away by idealistic motivation. Others might find the prospect of dealing with a financial system both technically and culturally unfamiliar so daunting and difficult as to be a large stumbling block on the way to making a new life in Israel. Baruch Labinsky’s concise handbook is to be recommended for all English-speaking olim, wherever they may be on the scale between these two extremes, as well as for veterans seeking to get a better handle on their finances. It is very persuasive on the need to set financial goals, to plan, and to understand the options available, while at the same time it demystifies Israeli institutions and explains Israeli attitudes, to calm the financially anxious.
To judge from his bio, the author is well qualified by both education and experience to help olim find their financial feet. The book is accessible and down-to-earth without over-simplifying. It tells new arrivals what they really need to know about local practice and terminology in such matters as buying a home and negotiating employment terms. Its approach should be very helpful to the newcomer in tackling the occasionally frustrating experience of dealing with Israeli banks.
The book is divided into chapters on different aspects of household finances, such as insurance, employment, tax planning and so on, which are designed as self-contained units. Sensibly, it begins with the things that need to be considered before taking the plunge and making aliya, and with general advice on financial planning applicable to anyone anywhere, before getting into the specifics of managing one’s affairs in Israel. It gives interesting international comparisons, with a perhaps understandable US bias, and is illustrated by charts and tables, with a lighter touch provided by cartoons from Menachem Jerenberg. There are two useful glossaries, one of financial terms, the other of relevant Hebrew terms.
All in all, this useful guide will help new arrivals avoid pitfalls and the aggravation of learning the hard way, as well as enabling them to exploit advantages Israel has to offer. It should convince olim, and potential olim, that money matters need not be a negative aspect of moving to Israel. Don’t leave home without it.
This review first appeared on Globes.co.il.