Thursday, June 14, 2007


15 years ago my grandfather zl"t* bought me an Israel bond. I didn't realize this until a month or two ago when my mother sent me the matured bond, and suggested that I cash it.

I love the super pro-industrialist imagery across the top. A plane, a ship, a factory, and some cranes.

I actually had a lot of difficulty with this. I wrestled with the idea of re-investing it, but I wondered what my loan of $500 would do for Israel. I debated giving it to charity, but after reading We Wish to Inform You, and What is the What, I am dubious of the efficacy of international aid organizations, especially those who give microloans. For instance, Compartamos, a Mexican micro-lender started out as non-profit, complete with seed funds from philanthropists. In 2000 or so it went profit, and raised interest rates to 100%. It just went IPO, and now they stand to make a whole lot of money. From micro-lending. This just doesn't sit right with me.

At any rate, one of my friends' mother came up with the best option. Cash it out, and spend it either in Israel, or on Israeli products. I like this idea a lot, as I firmly believe that it is better to "teach a man to fish" than to give him charity. It does, however, present me with some difficulty. I'm not going to Israel anytime soon (stupid chag eating up my vacation days), so I am wondering what the best way would be to find Israeli products (or charities, some of them are great) where the money goes straight to Israel. Suggestions welcomed.

As an aside, part of the process of redeeming my bond required a copy of my birth certificate. I can't remember if I had ever seen it before, but it was kind of neat; a historical document of my life. The handwriting looks like my father's, but as it is a photocopy I'm not sure. Nothing deep to say about it, except that it is pretty neat.

*ZL"T stands for "zichron le'tov" or "may he/she be remembered for good." It is a suffix often added on to the name/mention of people who have passed away. Also, in this case "for good" does not mean "forever" but instead "in a good way."


sarah said...

I just found out I have an Israel bond, too! It's divided between my cousin and myself, but I assumed we had cashed it and just spent the money. Not so. Incidentally, my cousin's name was spelled "Meyer" on the bond (her name is Maya--but my Papa zl"t had horrible writing), so all these years my dad has been forging a signature. I also don't think I have a birth certificate (I'm sure the town does, but not my family); I do, however, have my birth announcement: a fake card-catalogue card, edged in pink, saying "new aquisition." My parents met at the library, both working as reference librarians. Dorktastic.

You could use the money at WestSide Judaica for Israeli products (I hear they might be going out of business), or donate some to an org. that helps new olim, or get care packaged for the army (I have more faith in orgs that do direct service work like that, and it's easier to check up on their finances).

Annie said...

Sarah- Westside Judaica is a racket. I'd rather throw money down the drain than pay their absurd prices.

Also, I am again a bit concerned about aid in Israel, even service organizations, because while they might have great goals and give the money directly where it is needed, they also often have unstated goals with which I do not agree, nor wish to support.

orieyenta said...

Why did you not want to re-invest it? We have several of them and we just keep re-investing them. This way we are stll supporting Israel. I think every single dollar helps.

If you are thinking of donating it to a worthy cause, Trepp just posted about one here.

Annie said...

Orie- it isn't enough to make much of a difference, and as sad as I am to say it, $500 is a lot of money to me.

SaraK said...

You can donate some of it to help Sderot at
You can buy things made in Sderot here.

Anonymous said...

I've read some reports that claimed Israel should not be carrying as much debt as it is and that Americans buying Israeli bonds was really hurting Israel.

Just spend the money and don't worry about the political ramifications. This is money your parents invested for you, not money your parents donated to Israel.

Sarah said...

Oh! Another part of my dream was a mental reminder to send you a link to a New Yorker article on conflicting views of what microfinance should be. it was fascinating, as were the letters to the editor in the following weeks. A lot of the article dealt not specifically with interest rates, but with whether microfinance organizations should provide social services (specifically family-planning and sex ed) as well as money.

anti-faschist-joe said...

Redeem ASAP. At maturity funds lay in Bank of New York (fiscal agent) interest free for 5 years, then revert to NY State, but you will be paid anytime upon demand. Call 866-764-3425. It does NOT help Israel once matured.
Further info or non-matured call Israel Bond Trading 212-943-5000.