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Our New Olim Physicians

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Dr Efraim Rosenbaum

My name is Dr. Efraim Rosenbaum and I am 50 years old, happily married to Allison, a midwife, and the proud father of 7 wonderful children aged 8-23. We made Aliya 17 years ago, first living in Jerusalem and now in Beit Shemesh 
I met my wife here in Israel, before Med school. I was doing volunteer projects, such as Otzma, working in development towns. Although I wasn’t brought up in a very Zionist household, being here in Israel increased my Zionism and I decided to stay longer, learning about Judaism and studying Jewish texts. It was then that I met my wife. 
When I was 12, I had already decided that I was going to be a pediatric doctor. I was fascinated by the connections between physical and mental health in children and the science in working with young children and their families. 
We went back to the states, me to fulfil my dream of medical school, and my wife to nursing school. We spent 4 years in Philadelphia studying, and then moved to Boston for my pediatric training. The whole time we were focused on coming to Israel. Eventually the time came - We packed our bags and made Aliya, arriving in Har Nof, Jerusalem. 
Working in Israel
I was lucky enough to have a job in Israel, set up by a friend of mine. Within days of landing I was going to work at ALYN hospital in Jerusalem, doing pediatric rehabilitation. It wasn't easy. My Hebrew was horrible and I found the medicine different. I had come from a big institution, with many responsibilities and a very different type of work, and I struggled at first.
In addition to finding work hard, there was so much bureaucracy to deal with- my wife was flying back and forth trying to finish her studies and get licensed in Israel, the kids were adjusting to new schools and an entirely new school system but we kept on reminding ourselves about this gift we had been granted – the right to come to Israel, whereas so many generations had wanted to come but couldn't. The opportunity to work in the Holy Land, curing Jewish children and being part of the Israeli culture.
Leumit Beit Shemesh - a new model of medicine 
There were things that I disliked about the Israeli medical system. I was used to the primary care physician or pediatric doctor, overseeing all aspects of a patient's health. In the States the doctor is there from birth, supervising health care even if the child is hospitalized, always a part of the team. I decided that living in Israel was more important  and  I would make a change. 
We moved to Beit Shemesh and I was given the project of Leumit's Beit Shemesh health clinic. We were given funding and support and managed to enlist a team of wonderful doctors, many of whom were Olim Hadashim themselves. We decided that our priority was in creating a community, a Kehila. We created a new model of medicine, one in which the doctors are available to our "families" 24/7, via phone, SMS, emails etc. We created a web site (www.rbsmedical.com) aimed at new Olim, with information about navigating health care in Israel and health care in general. We added more and more resources and staff, putting Olim high on the Kupa's list of priorities. 
In addition, I was part of the building and creating of many different public programs, such as opening a health and sports center, support for new Olim, assisting in a program that helps children who have undergone sexual assault, all aimed at the spiritual and physical health of our community. 
My biggest frustration is seeing children come to me with things that are preventable – head injuries from not wearing helmets on bikes, chocking on grapes or hotdogs, tooth decay from sleeping with bottles….All these can and should be prevented by educating the parents, and I feel that this is my job, and the job of every physician who works with children and families. 
The families in our community appreciate all that we are doing and strong ties are built between the doctors and families. I am a part of their families in as much as they are a part of mine. 
My advice for families thinking about making Aliya
My advice to people who are thinking about making Aliya is to research before you come. Learn about the school system and
find the right city and the right school for your needs. Make contacts before, come with a job waiting for you in your field. Speak with people, get to know your neighbors – they are the most valuable resource and source of knowledge that you will have. They will have the know all about the best bank, the best school and the best Kupa (HMO). 
Once arriving, make your health a priority. Set up meetings with the branch manager of your Kuppat Holim, your primary care physician (known in Israel as your family doctor) and your kid's pediatrician. They will be able to answer questions about the health care system in Israel, explain about practicalities such as payments, appointments, specialists and buying medication. Many places offer lectures on how to utilize the Israeli health care system (via the HMOs, Nefesh LeNefesh or ACI) and I highly advise attending. 
Are you a doctor?
If you are a doctor and planning on making aliya – do your homework in advance, know how to get licensed, which papers you need notarized and what exactly you need for your re-training. Make sure you have someone knowledgeable helping you!
I wish you the best of luck!