In the previous chapter of this article I was giving some tips concerning how to get a job abroad avoiding a pain in a prominent part of your body. You, my dear readers, were probably asking yourself  question : “What is the source of all this information?”. My experience which I would willingly share with you.

Once upon a time…. Or to be exact, on the 3rd of July my plane successfully landed in Ben Gurion airport. Done as planned (including spa pillow and  soft landing). Moistly warm air of nocturnal  Tel-Aviv  was narrating about sea, sun and marvelous adventures  (yeah, next time I’d rather dream more carefully:)

The next day I spend embracing the cell-phone. Big Brother Mr. Internet gave me a lot of useful links and advertisements. Required, required, required… That summer it seemed that crisis and unemployment blew over Israel!

In three days  I eventually found a place of a nanny in a little residential village called Even Yehuda (one hour from Tel-Aviv on the way to Natania).  The employer, a bit stummering vice president of some prosperous engineering company,  joyfully described me the conditions, while I was agreeably nodding.

“We need a nanny for our 4 kids – triplets of 2 years old and a girl of 3,5. Your duties will be to take care of the kids (four of them) and of two-story house (light housekeeping). 6 days working week, Friday and Saturday we need your help for the whole day, as the kids are at home.  The kids wake up at 5-30 am and go to sleep at 8 p.m, you’re supposed to get up with them, to make the breakfast for the little ones, to see them off to the kindergarten. Afterwards you have to take care of the house ( laundry, dust, beds, ironing) usually it takes 2 hours. Once per week we make a general cleaning up. At 4 pm the kids are coming back, so you have to spend the time with them. So at 8 p.m your working day is usually over.”

So far sounds good, doesn’t it? In theory you even do understand, that it’s a lot of work, but until you try, you can never know how it tastes. As for the salary he named the sum of 5000 ILS.

I was agreeably nodding… Come on, 900 euro per ….well the number of my working hours I got to know later. Meanwhile all their grannies were keeping exclaiming : “Look, what a wonderful family we are!”. “You’ll be a part of us”… Hmmm…

So I moved to the house and insisted on signing up a contract, where  my duties, their demands, the salary and so on would be explicitly reflected . “Well, usually we don’t do it with the people working in our house”, – was the reply. I thought it would be RUDE to proceed insisting.

I started to work. Three days out of six it was a work of 16 hours per day . Only then I understood the real value of details and a….? Right, a contract. My working day usually ended up at 9-9.30 pm (instead of promised 8pm). It turned out that I had to take a poppy out for a walk twice, sometimes three times a day  (the  poor thing was sitting in a cage because “she could do a mess” being outside  the house ).  

I tried to talk to the employer and to explain that 16 hours a day was too much. Oh! He was merely full of indignation!! “How come you ask for a one more day off (the only thing I asked), when you don’t cope with your duties.” “The house is dirty and you don’t help my wife with kids.” The case was taking an interesting twist. It was true that my Hebrew to that moment was rather week and I couldn’t play with children, tell them stories and etc. in the same way I would do in Russian. However I still was feeding, bathing, watching them, changing diapers, so doing my best to please the employer.

After that conversation reproaches, captious objections, malicious telling-offs like : “You’re a burden! You act like a child ”, and etc, rained upon me as from the horn of plenty.  As I respect myself, I never talked back. Even when I saw my e-mail correspondence having been watched. I preferred to keep silence.

My attempts to cultivate in their children respect and politeness were met rather hostile. When the eldest girl told me that she didn’t love me,  I responded that it’s not nice to say to people that you don’t like them, because you can offend them.  I was harshly stopped by her mother – policewomen.  “You behave like a little girl, and degrade yourself to her level ”, she said.

I made my mind not to get into arguments. After all, it’s parents’ responsibility to teach their children to say “thank you” and “sorry”. For three weeks I’ve been wondered if the word “thank you” was ever used in that house…

Well, eventually not all the people are born intellectuals :)

In 3 weeks I found out that my patience was limited. I realized that I had to escape from that cage while I was able to do it myself.  While I  was contemplating over the subject of Jewish identity and solving the problem with  the minimal loss  (after all, children are not blamed for their  parents’ way of behavior), my boss suddenly revealed the remarkble capacity for telepathy ! He called me up and literally stroke my mind telling that I am fired (OMG, what a relief it was!!!!!). Also he found it necessary to declare, that so far as they were not satisfied with the quality of my work,  my miserable salary was cut for 500 shekels (100 euro), because it was “a bonus” (oh, really?).He calculated it all and….

Here we coming to the most interesting moment: to elementary math (school and life maths are definitely not the same, as it turned out). Did you happen to remember the sum of the promised compensation? It was 5000 shekels (which is -/+ 900 euro) for hmmm .. 78 working hours per week including working on holidays. (!!) A fact to learn: the MINIMUM salary in Israel is 22 shekels per hour and 150%-200%  (33-42 ILS)in holidays which are Friday afternoon, Saturday and  other public holidays. Besides all the overtimes (working more than 9 hours per day) is paid 125 % . So, working normal 9 hours per day in any company, my minimum salary would be approximately 5400 (1000 euro) per 45 working hours per week. Taking  into consideration all the hours I worked in that house, my  salary had to be… (ready?) 8500 ILS or 1700 euro.

Meanwhile the sum he culculated was 134 shekels per day (including weekends and the days I was working 16 hours per  days), meaning between  8 and 13 shekels per hour.  Dustmen on the central bus station are getting more:)

So, I got 2900 per 23 working days (the cost of the health insurance (600 shekels) was deducted out of 3500 ; my employer insisted on its execution but “forgot” to tell me that I should pay for it).

All those “pitiful” details (like calculating the salary ) came to my mind only afterwards. On the moment I left I finally understood what the Sons of Israel felt leaving Egypt. The sense of freedom  was merely  intoxicating….In the final analyses, one’s  mental and physical health/comfort are much more important than money.

This is why I did not sue them for underpaying, causing moral  damage and  hiring me without a contract. I just considered that the life always boomerangs against those whose deeds are disgraceful and abusive. Power doesn’t give you the right to humiliate.


Well,  after all bad experience is also a good experience. After that I had another 4 employers. Among them were: an Arabic bakery owner paying peanuts and selling spoilt goods to the customers;  the caregiving agency, where I couldn’t get  more than 5 working  hours per day;  a 5 – star hotel Dan Tel-Aviv , where I worked with wonderful people; and finally a nursing home, working where I indeed enjoyed,  despite all the salary nuances .

Two thousand years passed since Bnei Israel (the sons of Israel) were enslaved in Egypt. Times changed, people apparently didn’t. There always will be the weak, naïve and inexperienced and those who are ready to take advantage of them, to abuse, suppress. However today it’s up to you weather to keep silence or to become involved.

Speak up! Remember, you’re a free human-being with the rights for respectful attitude, your personal free time, freedom of mind and correspondence; merited valuation of your work and paid overtime. Being cautious (not paranoiac, that’s different) may save your head and buttocks  from different kind of concerns; it can also deprive Israel as well as other countries of fools, ready to work 16 hours per day for a penny.

And don’t forget the great cabbalistic rule of sharing: Got a lesson – share your knowledge! And let your journey be the greatest and the safest!


Judith Pearly