It is not exactly a new idea but it is one that has catapulted itself to the forefront as a result of this ongoing war in Gaza. As a result of the situation, hundreds of thousands of reservists have been called-up in what is truly a citizens’ army.

We’ve read about how the reservists need new helmets, state of the art combat boots, warm clothing, food, and much more. But then there is the all-important human side of what it means for a civilian to set aside his personal life and livelihood to serve for weeks at a time. In the case I am referring to the employee of an American company who resides in Israel who has no program in place to compensate him for lost hours at work. How does he get compensated for the time he is serving in the military?

That’s a question that Mike Kashnow and his associate, Baruch Swinkin, began to ponder when they realized that many people who are now serving in the IDF in Gaza or on the Northern border who work for foreign companies are losing out on valuable income during their time of duty. They would not be compensated for the lost salary.

Both Mike and Baruch are Americans who made aliyah about twenty years ago. They raised their families in Beit Shemesh and Mike has a 21-year-old son who serves as a paratrooper in Gaza. Except for one Shabbos weekend off, he has been in Gaza since the inception.

Their company, Route 38, is working closely with the L’man Achai organization to raise the money needed to support these families during these trying times. Mike estimates that roughly ten to eleven percent of the reserves in the IDF find themselves in difficult economic straits. Mike and Baruch point out that it also affects those who are self-employed and work for overseas clients, mostly in the United States. Clearly, they are sacrificing a great deal to protect their country and need the assistance of all of us on the outside who genuinely care about the well-being of our brethren fighting to protect Israel and all of us.

When there is no war, Route 38 works as a conduit between people who live in Israel and work for foreign companies. The focus of the company is to work with people who face complicated tax situations due to their being both American and Israeli, and have to file two separate tax returns for income earned from a source outside of Israel.

Route 38 needs all of us to pitch in to balance the so-called playing field. None of us want families to suffer economic hardship because of a quirk in the system. I’m doing more detailed research into the excellent service that Route 38 provides to those who require assistance in this area, and I hope to provide more information on how Route 38 assists those who made aliyah and find themselves facing economic challenges during times of war as well as peace.


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