Living life to the fullest

Chaya Lederman moved to Israel to live her best life – and, as an occupational therapist (OT) is helping others do this too

By Chandrea Serebro

Meet Chaya Lederman, an occupational therapist whose mission is to help people live life to the fullest and achieve independence in their daily activities. Born in Sydney, Australia, Chaya’s journey led her to New York and Melbourne before making Aliyah to Efrat, Israel, seeking a better life for herself and her family.

In her private practice, one of the many things Chaya helps individuals accomplish are their daily living ‘occupations’ within their life roles, whether it be cooking, self-care, or leisure activities. This involves modifying tasks to make them easier and, at times, prescribing special assistive equipment. “The goal is to enhance independence, allowing individuals to complete tasks with greater self-sufficiency.” Chaya also works at Adi Yerushalayim with adults living with disabilities and Misgav Ladach Hospital in the complex nursing ward, along with Meuchedet Health Services providing home care services, and through her work in all its variations, she is not only making sure that she reaches these goals daily, but she has the bonus of sincere job satisfaction, which makes the challenges she faced to get here worthwhile.

Hebrew posed the greatest challenge for Chaya since making Aliyah, but, seeing it as a “huge hurdle” that she had no choice but to overcome, she has succeeded in getting over the hardest part. Taking her own advice she gives to people – “if you want to learn Hebrew, work in Hebrew” – Chaya is immersed in the OT world in Israel and doesn’t look back.

Converting her degree involved notarizing documents, degrees and transcripts by a specialist notary and submitting them to Misrad Habriut (Department of Health). After obtaining permission, Chaya took the licensing exam and successfully received her Occupational Therapy license. The main struggle was navigating the process and then studying for the exam, requiring a return to foundational university knowledge which she had thought was long left behind. Now, Chaya realises the joy in the learning process and the connections she makes daily. “Every day brings new experiences, processes, and interactions with amazing people.”

Inspired by her baby boy, who reminds her that “ life is a blessing and miracle” and motivates her to “do my best and go above and beyond for all my clients”, Chaya is compelled to help her clients push themselves to see life this way too, and like her, achieve their goals with hard work.

Telfed played an important role in Chaya’s Aliyah. One notable distinction in her Israeli professional journey is the requirement for OTs here to hold special certificates for various assessments and interventions that are not needed in Australia in most cases. This highlights the regulatory differences between Israel and many other countries, and Chaya recommends using Telfed to determine what is needed, and what comes next. They connected her with a notary for document notarisation and assisted in making professional connections, which helped her along the journey.

Chaya’s advice for professionals contemplating Aliyah is to embrace the challenge. “It can be daunting and challenging but you have to take a leap of faith with calculated risks and jump right in. Opportunity is abundant here professionally. The key is connecting to as many people as possible, talking, and sharing ideas. It has truly been challenging to somewhat start over professionally however it has been humbling, and has been the best decision I have made.”

Chaya provides private occupational services in the Jerusalem and Gush Etzion areas both in English and Hebrew.  For more information contact Chaya on 0535698106 or [email protected].