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Osnat Levy Thank You Talk

Good evening, everyone!

You all know me very well, and, every year, I share more about myself. I’m feeling almost naked here!

I would like to thank you for coming, and I would like to share experiences that I believe have shaped my life. One day when I was 18, on the bus coming home from my military service, I met an old friend. He was about six years older than me and already in med school. We were sitting on the bus, talking. But not about what you think.

We talked about socialism. Now, he was the son of an important political party member and I was just an 18 year old. I tried to tell him that I didn’t believe socialism really worked, as I believed everyone should take care of him or herself. This was in opposition to the Kibbutz idea: “You give as you can and get as much as you need.” It didn’t make sense to me that the Kibbutz paid for everyone, no matter how much or how little he or she contributed. Instead,  I thought that we all needed to be able to provide for ourselves. It turned into a big argument and we got very emotional about it. I felt that I had to prove to him, and to myself, that I could make it on my own.

So when I returned to the Kibbutz after my military service, I worked there for just one year and then I decided that I wanted to go to study at the university. But I didn’t want the Kibbutz to pay for my tuition. I asked for permission to work outside of the Kibbutz to pay my tuition myself. This lead to a huge argument at a Kibbutz meeting and in the end they voted against my proposal.

So I left with just 500 shekels in my pocket to start a new life in Tel Aviv. I had just three months to earn enough money to pay to my university tuition, my rent, and living expenses. I lived with a friend for a while until I could pay her back.

During that time two things happened: Miracles and Opportunities.  I like to call this combination: “MO.”

Miracles started to appear to me in different ways. I would find money. I’m no a thief; I actually found the money. Or maybe the money found me!

One day while I was swimming, I suddenly saw a 20-shekel bill at the bottom of the pool. So I dove under and picked up the bill. I continued to swim, holding the bill in one hand and I trying to stroke with my other. Then I saw another bill, and another. By the time I was at the end of my lap I had five or six 20-shekel bills in my hand. Now I’m a very good Kibbutznik, so what did I do? I went to the lifeguard and told him that I had found those bills at the bottom of the pool.

“What do you want me to do?“ he said.

“Maybe someone told you he lost his money,” I answered.

“No,” he said.

“Maybe you can keep it, in case someone comes to claim the money?”

“No! You keep it.”.

“I’ll give you my phone number in case someone comes.“

“I’m not a secretary and you’ll take it.”

So I had a choice: leave the money or take it. I took it. I hung it to dry with my laundry. It was there for a month until I dared to use it.

Another time, when I needed some cash, I went to the ATM machine. It was two in the afternoon. I put my card in the ATM but the machine was not working. I put my card in again and it was still not working. I didn’t know what to do; I needed money. Suddenly, I saw two 50-shekel bills in the machine. So I looked up and I looked down. During that time it was very trendy to use hidden cameras to catch people doing silly things … then they would jump out and say,“Ah ha … we tricked you!”  So I thought, I’m not going to get caught. I looked all over, inside outside, up and down. No one was there and I didn’t see a camera. So I took the money.

So miracles happen! And they happen every day. There are big miracles and small miracles, but they are all around us. We just need to open our eyes and hearts.

One day, I was out with my friend and she told me that one of the dogs in the Vet school where she studied was about to be put down because “they don’t want to have anything more to do with him.” I asked, “What do you mean?” She said, “No one needs him anymore. No one wants to take that dog home.”

“I’ll take that dog!” I said. I didn’t know how I’d care for the dog, as I worked from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, but I knew I couldn’t let the dog be put down. So I had to take the dog. I had to save the dog. Now the dog was dirty and filthy and he had long hair. I figured out that the first thing I had to do was give him a bath and a haircut. I started looking for a grooming place and they were all too expensive. I couldn’t afford it. What could I do?

I went out and bought my own grooming machine. The machine was also very expensive, but I figured out that three uses would cover my expenses. The next day I was out with my dog at Shderot Rotschild (Rotschild BLVD) in Tel Aviv, and someone asked me, “Where did you take the dog for his haircut?”

I replied, “I did it myself.”

“Could you do my dog?” he asked.

”Sure! No problem, I’ll be happy to do that, I’ll even come to your house to do it.”

So I became a dog groomer and I had a dog grooming business and it was a very good business.

Another time I met a woman who was treated like a slave by her employers. Because she was a recent immigrant she was dependent on them. I helped her escape and start her own life. That was here, in the US.

I was even a rock-climbing teacher. Every time an opportunity presented itself, I just said: “YES!”

After my husband finished his doctorate, we lived on only $35K a year for six years. Some years I was able to work a little bit and then we made about $55 a year. Being a post doc is really like working for free! But then we got an opportunity in 2005, when my husband got his first position at Merk. This was a substantial increase in salary. It was hard for me to believe this was really true.

Then we had the opportunity to buy our first condo and we jumped at it. I was sweating it and I didn’t know how we would pay for it, but we bought it anyway. The interesting thing is, during the previous year I hadn’t worked. I didn’t have a work permit. The real estate agent kept asking me, “What are your plans? What do you want to do?”

My dream was to become a midwife. But when I looked into it I learned it was very expensive and I couldn’t afford to do it.  So I answered the real estate agent that I didn’t really know.

She said, “You are so good at Real Estate. Why don’t you do that?”  She told me that it was very cheap to earn your license. I thought, why not? And before I knew it, I had a Real Estate license. It was 2006. Now I needed to find an office to work for. I got an interview at a Real Estate company. I was very sweaty and very nervous during the interview. The agent was asking questions and I was hoping she’d take me. After the interview she said, “You are in.” “Yes!” I said. One thing she didn’t tell me was that before I could sell one house, I’d have to sell myself.

You probably remember the story from two years ago about Little Avrema’le, who left his Kibbutz and became very rich selling Real Estate in America. Everyone talked about him … how he left socialism behind and became a big capitalist … It was a very big deal. Well, now I was the Real Estate agent.

The idea of selling myself was difficult for me. This is a sin in the eye of the Kibbutz, because when you grow up in Kibbutz you have to accept that everyone is equal. We were considered equal in value, capabilities, intelligence, and so on. Anyone on the Kibbutz could be the secretary or the treasurer, and every four years on the clock the jobs rotate. So the Kibbutz was sometimes doing very well and sometimes very poorly. It all depended on who was running it. But that was OK with them, because everyone was equal.

So I had to tell people that I could help them sell Real Estate, that I’m a little bit, just a little bit, better than the others at my job. I was so ashamed. But an opportunity showed itself. One day, someone in my office who saw me struggling told me, “Why won’t you contact this coaching company? They can help you.” So I called and it was extremely expensive, but I decided to go for it.

A few months later someone told a manager from another company about me. I’m not sure why, I’m not sure how, but I got a phone call. I had lunch with her and on the spot I decided to work for her. And things started to work for me. I started to realize that I could really help people.

The business started to grow. In the past two years, I have become the soul provider for my family. This allows my husband to focus on developing our startup company dedicated to using antibodies to fight Ovarian Cancer. In my mind, this is a true miracle. I never believed I’d be able to be a soul provider and fund a startup company.

Now this miracle happened only thanks to the opportunities ALL of you have given me to serve you! I’m blessed to have you around me and I’m lucky to have you around me! The reason I hold this party every year, again and again, is that I want to see you when I’m alive and when I have the opportunity to say, “You blessed me and you are my miracle!

Thank you very much!




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