Shira Pransky Project
Blog by Ayala Laub Waltuch, Executive Director
The healthcare system in Israel can be pretty daunting. Most Olim struggle navigating the different bureaucratic policies, and often overlook so many benefits offered to them, simply because it is too confusing!
The Shira Pransky Project, or SPP, has helped thousands of Olim with this very problem and is committed to bringing successful healthcare navigation to English-speaking Israeli immigrants.
Especially in times of personal crisis, understanding healthcare for anyone can be intimidating. This is particularly true for immigrants, who must do so with unfamiliar bureaucracy and in a new language!
We are committed to alleviating the stress and challenges of the medical system and aim to ensure healthcare is not a struggle for Aliyah.
We do this through three main avenues:
Information outreach: we have over 700 articles in English on health and medical rights!
Community Education: we give workshops all throughout Israel (and starting this year, Chutz La’aretz via zoom!) on how to navigate the Israeli healthcare system.
Personal Assistance: our healthcare advisors will help personally guide you through your questions with the Israeli healthcare system, with our healthcare advisory department, headed by the incredibly talented Leora Seidman.
The organization was founded by our Chairman of the Board, Gabe Pransky, in memory of his wife Shira z”l. Shira left this world at the age of 26, after which Gabe realized how many benefits and avenues of support they missed simply due to ignorance. This was a real lesson in “knowledge is power”. He was inspired to open SPP to make sure all Olim receive the best possible care.
I joined SPP a little over three years ago, after many years of working in the non-profit sector, and just as many years obsessing over healthcare.
I am truly passionate about our work here at SPP. Healthcare is a right for all, and having less money or less of a grasp on the local culture and language should not inhibit you from receiving the care and benefits you deserve.
I am so proud of all we have accomplished. Our All Rights Index has become the premier source of English healthcare information throughout Israel. We have 160,000 users per year, and it's used by patients and professionals alike. Our community workshops continue to grow, and I am especially excited about our new pre aliyah workshop we have started to offer, allowing new Olim to understand the system even before they arrive!
Ultimately, the thing I am most proud of is the impact we have made on our community, of how many people we have helped- the thousands of people who got that appointment or reimbursement because of our assistance, the hundreds of thousands who will get that extra benefit because they read something we wrote.
SPP, like many non-profits, hit some bumps in the road due to the global pandemic. Our budget was cut, and could no longer do in-person workshops or meetings. The increase in Aliyah meant our pre-Aliyah inquiries went from 10% to 25% of our monthly inquiries! Add on top of that all the corona-related questions, the backlog to the healthcare system, and more... With an even more limited staff, we had to figure out a way to keep up! We created additional online guides and started making weekly FAQ videos so that our 10 most asked questions were easily answered and visible. Thankfully, we have found our way to pivot, and are on a path to be even stronger than we were before, with an even greater impact.
Happy Ending Story:
We recently had someone come to us after struggling to get an MRI for an urgent and important follow-up appointment. Her kupah (healthcare provider) gave her a hitchayvut (payment voucher) to a specific hospital, with an available appointment three months away! Thankfully, we were able to show her all the different options and locations for MRIs, which she didn’t know existed!
After speaking to us and using our tips/information, she was able to get an appointment for an MRI at a different location within a couple of weeks and successfully got a new hitchayvut from her kupah. Without us, she would’ve either waited 3 months for an important appointment or may have felt forced to pay out of pocket for an expensive private test to cut the wait time. This is just one of the small ways SPP helps people!
SPP’s Top Tip for New Olim
My biggest tips to anyone stressed, confused, or stuck when dealing with Israeli healthcare are: Get to know your branch secretary, don't take no for an answer, and get to know your rights by reviewing SPP's articles, guides, and All Rights Index. And of course, email us at email@example.com
Most Frequently Asked Question:
Which kupat cholim should I join? Is one better than the other? All kupot cholim are required by law to offer you the same services, which are determined by Misrad Habriut (Ministry of Health). The best way to choose one is to find which kupah is most accessible to your own, and ask other Anglos in that community to see which one they like best!