A natural giver

Q & A: Merav Mandelbaum, chairwoman of Reuth, a nonprofit specializing in health and social welfare, shares her opinions about Israel and Israelis.

Merav Mandelbaum 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Merav Mandelbaum 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Merav MandelbaumAge: 55Profession: Organizational consultant and chairwoman of ReuthPlace of birth: JerusalemCurrent residence: Tel Aviv
What gets you out of bed in the morning?I’m always excited about the work that lies ahead. So many people need our help, and new ideas, stimulating initiatives for helping them are born every day.
What keeps you up at night? I worry about the health of the people I love and care for.
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far? We are forced to turn away many elderly people who have no roof over their heads. The capacity of Reuth’s community housing is limited, and the waiting list grows longer every year.
How do you celebrate your achievements? I rarely stop to celebrate. When something important has been achieved, I tend to think about the next goal.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do? I would invest money in helping Holocaust survivors who are in need. We have many such residents at Reuth, and we try to make their lives as easy and pleasant as we can.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her? I would have loved to make a movie about the Rebbetzin Gerda Ochs, chairwoman of Reuth in the 1980s, and the woman who brought me to Reuth. I was fortunate to have this great yet modest woman as my mentor – teaching me all I know about compassion and hessed (loving-kindness), and shaping my social outlook. She was a noble, beautiful woman with a fascinating story, who came from Berlin and did so much to educate the young and help the old in a very difficult era – but always took care to stay out of the limelight.
What would you change about Israelis if you could? I wish Israelis were more accepting toward the less fortunate, people who are different, and especially those with mental retardation and other special needs. Our society should do more to support them and give them a better quality of life.
iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper?Being a journalist’s daughter, I always prefer pen and paper. I think best when I hold a pen in my hand.
If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say? Come to Israel for the beautiful smiles of the nice people, who will receive you with open arms, and for the wonderful sun that also smiles upon you almost every day of the year.
What is the most serious problem facing the country?
Definitely the social and economic situation, with so much poverty. The lower classes must be able build a better future and find employment, so they no longer have to rely on governmental aid.
How can it be solved?
Allocating budgets for weaker populations, especially for the younger generations. Empowering and educating these young people, nurturing their abilities, offering them good jobs. They are our future.
In 20 years, the country will be: A better place to live in. God willing, we will have peace.