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A man using the machine to get a number at the Post Office in Ramat Poleg, Netanya, Israel before the machine breaks down

The front of the Post Office in Ramat Poleg, Israel

Editor’s Report: Chaos at the Israeli Post Office in Ramat Poleg,Netanya

by Rhonda Spivak, February 19, 2023

I was in Israel earlier this month and I had to mail two packages to Canada via EMS, which is like FedEx. But to do that, I learned that I actually first needed to make an appointment to go to the Post Office! Apparently, this bureaucratic procedure was put in place during Covid and has never been revised since. I tried to make an appointment at the Post Offices closest to me, but they didn’t have any available time slots  until the day before I was scheduled to leave the country. After looking around, I got an earlier appointment at a small Post office in a mall in Ramat Poleg, Netanya where naturally there was no parking.
Israeli Post offices are not run by the state anymore but are private enterprises, and they aren’t like Canada in that you can do much more at an Israeli Post Office than merely send letters or packages. For example, to change your TV remote in Israel you need to go to the Post Office,  to pay for your driver’s lessons, your driver’s test and your drivers liscence in Israel you need to go to the Post Office, you can pay your utility bills and property taxes  at the Israeli  Post Office, and if you have a disability you must buy a holder so your disability card can be affixed to your car at the Israeli Post Office. The Post  Office  also acts as a bank and you can do international money transfers there ( As an aside, the one thing you can’t pay at the Post Office is the toll fee if you use Hwy 6 while you are driving)
When I arrived at the Post Office at 11:36 a.m. which was the exact time of my appointment, there was already a line up. The machine that lets you take a number was broken, and a Post Office official was trying to fix it.  There was a hub of people in this small post office, which only had two clerks. The Post office got so crowded, that an official was trying to get Israelis inside to wait in line outside the Post Office, but he was not successful. I was patiently waiting outside the Post Office, but due to chaos  inside the Post  Office, a  burly Post Office official tried to kick as many people out of the Post Office as he could and then locked the door and put out a sign that said in Hebrew “Sagoor” [Closed] ! Notwithstanding I had an appointment and had been waiting for close to 45 minutes to mail my package, the Post Office was now closed, and some Israelis locked inside were trying to push the door open as they were trapped inside the Post Office! Eventually, the “Sagoor” sign was taken down and the Post Office re-opened.
There was also not one numbering system which added to the chaos. A man who was called in before me had a number that was 3305. But my number was A93. Since there was no clear order I could discern in which people were called, I had no idea where I was in the line and who would be called before me. Also, usually they have a large screen where you can see the numbers of people called , but they didn’t have this feature at the Ramat Poleg Post Office-they had a black screen but no numbers were on it, as I think the screen was also broken.  Numbers were called out on a loudspeaker, but there were so many people waiting outside talking, it was sometimes hard to hear the number being called. Luckily, I identified a women who held the number A92, so I knew I was to go up just after her.
Now to add to the chaos, the Ramat Poleg Post Office, since it is privately run had also on display for sale  a variety of items including watches, purses, wallets, jackets, shoes, tshirts, stuffed animals, luggage, head phones, key chains, a screw driver set for jewelry, belts, sports stuff and sunglasses! This meant that people could do their shopping while waiting in line. I have never seen a Post Office trying to sell such a variety of items
Now next to the Post Office there was a women’s clothing store, and people in line were also having a look in there. I suspect the only reason that store is in business is it gets overflow traffic from the Post Office.

When I told a friend of mine about my experience at the Post Office she remembered a time many years ago when she waited for hours in line at the Post Office  and when she finally got to the teller,  the teller said “Ein Boolim” ["We have no stamps"].
Now there is a lot being written these days about judicial reform in Israel [and I don’t mean to make light of it as it is a very serious subject], but I think there needs to be  more written about Post  Office reform -so that the Post Office sells far fewer items and has a proper numbering system for those waiting in line!
Alas,  my two packages just arrived safe and sound, and now what remains is my memory of my experience at the Ramat Poleg Post Office. I should say that when I finally got to the teller she was efficient and helpful.
In retrospect I wish I had bought a tshirt at the Post Office, and I wonder if next time I should try to get  my hair done there.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.