Shoshana (age 59) and Amira, her niece, worked as seamstresses in the “Needle and Thread” textile factory. They had long felt a deterioration in the factory’s treatment of its employees, evident in dismissive and offensive remarks, offenses to their dignity, preferential treatment of other employees at their expense, and being subjected to yelling. They even wrote a warning letter describing their experiences. One day, Shoshana broke her leg during a shift at the factory. During her recovery, Shoshana and Amira could not come to the office. The manager, Rachamim, had been informed long before that Amira could not come to work without her aunt Shoshana. Therefore, she was absent from work due to her aunt’s absence. Shoshana also felt she was treated particularly badly while recovering her from injury: she was not offered help, her pain and suffering were ignored, and not even minimal steps were taken to care for her in her time of need. Moreover, neither received the social benefits they should have received, such as pension and timely wages, in addition to convalescence pay, sick pay, and vacation pay as required by law. Due to this mistreatment, as well as the lack of legally mandated appropriate working conditions and timely provision of worker rights, the two women decided to resign. They submitted an official resignation letter that included a declaration of work termination and claim for damages.
The other party, Rachamim had a different narrative. He is the manager and owner of the factory, a family-run business that also employed his wife and daughter. He explained that he always tried to ensure a pleasant work environment for employees, including chatting patiently and cordially with all workers. He even made a personal effort for Shoshana by arranging a parking place for her, a nice spot to eat lunch, and even a quiet place for her to meet her regular clients. In his view, Shoshana and Amira abandoned their work just prior to the Passover holidays, knowing this desertion would prevent the factory from meeting its contractual obligations. The family business, coping with severe debt at the time, was unable to recover from the damage caused by the two employees’ departure. He maintained that the complaints of the two women were rude beyond reason and even constituted libel. He considered the claim for severance pay to be extortion and therefore refused to cooperate. Regarding pension pay, he claimed to have asked them on several occasions into which fund to deposit their money. Once they were to decide on the pension fund of their choice, he would immediately transfer the money owed.
During the mediation, the parties discussed their individual expectations from the other side and the mutual sense of disappointment from the other’s conduct after so many years of working together. They also discussed the terms of employment and reached an agreement on the manner of wage payment and provision of social benefits, retroactively and for the future. Moreover, everyone agreed that the atmosphere in the factory was of the utmost importance, and agreed on appropriate work conduct. Furthermore, the three worked to draft a statement of principles determining how early requests on personal needs or vacation days would be submitted.
Yonatan, a young man from the Religious-Zionist sector, contacted a matchmaking agency to find a spouse. The agency asked for his permission to provide his phone number to potential mates to which he gladly agreed. To his great disappointment, no girl contacted him. Moreover, he did not hear from the agency again. Their lack of response was a great source of anger as he had paid the agency a substantial sum of money for services; he claimed they had broken their promise. His relationship with the agency ended, and a year passed without any further constructive communication between the two parties. A rabbi recommended that Yonatan begin mediation and he agreed to try this avenue before taking his case to court.
During the mediation, the agency owner explained that he had avoided checking in on the client after his phone number had been changed for fear of accidentally “sabotaging” the matchmaking process; and he did not want to apply any pressure on either party. He also explained that he had expected Yonatan to report to the agency office if he did not hear from the woman, or the relationship had otherwise failed. Thanks to mediation, the agency owner understood Yonatan’s great disappointment and Yonatan had the opportunity to hear directly from the owner in a pleasant and calm environment.
The two parties agreed that Yonatan would receive matchmaking services for an additional year at no additional cost, and the owner would personally oversee his case.
The two parties concluded the process happy and mutually satisfied.
Dan, a single father, has been a resident of an apartment building in Jerusalem for the past eight years. His apartment is located just below the apartment of Alex and Dana. The dispute between the two families came about because Alex and Dana claimed that Dan barbecued on his porch and the smoke rose to their floor. This particularly bothered them on Saturdays, as the couple was religious and observed Sabbath restrictions. This was the beginning of a series of problems between the families. Dan’s son damaged the couple’s family car while he was on leave from military service, causing a slight dent in their car door. Upset by the damage and the fact that Dan failed to apologize, the couple submitted a complaint to a community police officer. During the investigation, the police officer knocked on Dan’s door in the middle of the night. The following day, Alex and Dana filed a claim against Dan for their damaged car. Dan was enraged that they had turned to the police without speaking to him first. He had intended to come to their apartment, apologize for the damage and see what reparations were needed, but the police had already been contacted. On the other hand, in the last year, there had been a leaky water pipe in the couple’s apartment that had trickled down to destroy the ceiling of Dan’s bathroom. His ceiling now needed repainting. Dan also claimed that the couple were unreasonably noisy at all hours of the day due to, among other things, dragging furniture and wearing high-heeled shoes.
The meeting of the neighbors began in a very contentious atmosphere. Each side presented arguments against the other and both struggled to listen. Tension among the three ran so high that the mediators chose to speak to each side separately to discuss matters pertaining to each apartment.
During several joint meetings, the atmosphere changed, and the parties learned to understand and respect the other. Dan learned that the couple had tried to paint his bathroom ceiling but called the painter time and again when he was absent from home. “Had we just talked to each other…” said the neighbors. Alex and Dana understood that Dan had intended to pay for the damaged car. Had they spoken earlier, the suffering caused by contacting the police and filing a legal claim would have been avoided. As it happens, Dan is a professional mechanic who makes his living fixing damaged cars and he agreed to fix their car although a new door would have been cheaper. Alex and Dana proposed using the difference in cost of repair to buy paint needed to repaint Dan’s ceiling. Most importantly, the three exchanged phone numbers. Since then, Dan informs Alex and Dana before barbecuing on the porch so that they have time to shut their windows. The two families have gone back to coexisting peacefully.