Israel National News spoke to Rabbi Zvi Gluck, CEO of Amudim, about his organization and the work they have been doing to assist Americans in navigating the rules to enter Israel during the pandemic.

Rabbi Gluck explains that it started with a “tragic event” in April 2020, with a funeral and trying to get the deceased to Israel.

“There was a lot of complications and they reached out to me to try to help based on my PR and communal experience,” Gluck says. “It snowballed from there, from one to two to thousands of people we’ve been able to help.”

Amudim developed an entire website just with information. The site received close to half a million hits from people to see how to navigate the requirements. They found that many people could not figure it out on their own by going to the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“That challenge was just practical, giving people the tools that they needed,” Rabbi Gluck said.

“As the rules are ever-changing, what we’ve noticed is that they’ll rule on something in Israel and the Ministry of Interior will make it official but then it has to go to through bureaucratic channels until it gets down to the council level for them to be able to approve something. Even though the Ministry of Interior says this is okay, but if they don’t officially and formally let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know in a timely manner, the time lag creates a lot of confusion and overloads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but they can’t approve applications because they haven’t been told to do that yet.”

He adds: “That’s a challenge that we’ve been seeing every single time there’s been a change.”

They’re also focused on weeding out those who tried to cheat with fake documents.

“We are very careful. We don’t allow any shtick. People have offered use thousands upon thousands of dollars and we’ve just turned them all down,” he says. “What people don’t realize is when people do pull shtick, it ends up affecting everybody.”

In terms of the current rules, “My rule is safety first. If a government makes rules you have to be vaccinated to enter, they have the right to do so. The government makes rules, we have to respect those rules.”

However, he commented that “there are certain issues with that which don’t make sense.”

“For example, somebody in America who just recently had covid and they got monoclonal antibodies,” he says. “They’re not allowed to get a vaccine for six months medically. However, they have more antibodies in them at a much safer pace. Why can’t people in that category be allowed to enter? There’s lots of bits and pieces that just don’t seem to make sense.”

But, he notes that the Israeli government has done its best. “When it does come to emergencies for the most part the Israeli government is bending over backwards and people are doing whatever they can.”

“In the last 18 months, we’ve helped literally tens of thousands of people to be able to come to Israel,” he says. “It’s been a great feeling to know that we can help them. But at the end of the day, Israel is our home that we want to be able to visit when we can. We miss it. We really hope they can find a way to ease some of this pain and make it easier for everybody.”