"Hello, ESRA? This is ESRA. We need your support."

"Hello ESRA. We'll be glad to help if you tell us exactly what it is that you need."

Confused? Don’t be! The fact is we are all ESRA, whether we are members of ESRA branches in the north, south or center, volunteers in the ETP (English Tutoring Program), on the Executive, in the shops or offices, producing the ESRA Magazine, or working on ESRA projects anywhere in the country. We are all working together, and although there are understandably differing needs in various branches, we are all part of the ESRA family, each with an important part to play. That goes for our ESRA staff as well who do a superb job making sure that ESRA runs well and often going way beyond the call of duty to ensure our success; they are there for all of us.

We all appreciate volunteers who go the extra mile and we will be celebrating a few at our Volunteer Awards Ceremony in December. There are those who work year after year to ensure that ESRA continues to succeed. On this occasion, I would like to single out the Branch Chairs for special mention. Many of them work hard to develop new groups and maintain their leadership roles for many years. For example, I was just chatting with Annice Grinberg, who has been involved in running ESRA’s Rehovot Branch for over 15 years. So, a big kolhakavod for all of the branch chairs and their hard working committees.

When I receive a message from an ESRA member to say that an email from ESRA made her feel really good, and reinforced the feeling that she is part of the “ESRA Family”, then I know we are succeeding, and it makes my day! That happened this week after one of our long-term members received her ESRA birthday greeting. Like all of you, I am a volunteer, and I understand the importance of getting enjoyment from what you do, and being acknowledged. That's why little things, like birthday messages, are an important part of making our volunteering work a satisfying endeavor. So, if we've done something you like, or neglected to, let us know. The same goes for any other comments and suggestions. We want you to know that “Your Opinion Counts” is not just a cliché, and so we have set up a new email address for you to let me know what's on your mind: baruch@esra.org.il

ESRA was originally formed with the aim of assisting English speakers to integrate into Israeli society. That continues to be a major aim, but integration means different things to different people. Some, upon their arrival, feel they will only be real Israelis if they speak fluent Hebrew, while others give that up as an impossible task and focus on other aspects of integration. In any case, whether fluent in Hebrew or not, all of us "Anglos" tend to gravitate toward English speaking friends and activities. That's where ESRA fulfills an important role for all English speakers, whether proficient in Hebrew or not, with cultural activities or just plain fun, and a diversity of projects aimed at making Israel a better society. Whatever language we speak, we are Israelis and we fulfill an important role in Israeli society.

ESRA is today a large organization, but we want to maintain that personal touch, which is why the contact between branches and their local members is so important. Under Brenda Katten’s leadership we started the idea of having Regional Coordinators to improve contact with and between ESRA Branches. Glenis Bertfield (Center), Jane Krivine (North) and Janet Kiesari (South) have been working hard to help develop the branches in their areas. They are always happy to know what everyone in the branches has to say and we are continuing the very successful regional meetings under their leadership.

Furthering our aim of promoting communication, plans are underway for the redesign of our website, making it more user friendly. This effort is being run by our Media Committee under the able leadership of Terry Morris, ESRA’s Vice-Chairman. The same committee is also responsible for examining our other means of communication, be it emails or social media such as Facebook. Communication within ESRA is very important, and we are aware of the need for various ways of communicating commensurate with members' varying technical abilities and preferences. For many, ESRA’s magnificent magazine, produced five times a year, continues to be a major point of contact and source of information. However, it cannot fulfill the need for almost immediate communication that has become the norm in our modern world, and no less so in the dynamic organization that ESRA has become. So I look forward to keeping our big organization in-touch and personal with lots of free flowing communication, including face-to-face and telephone calls.

Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year, blessed with peace and fulfillment from all that you do.

Your Opinion Counts – send it to:  baruch@esra.org.il 

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About the author

Baruch Tanaman

Having been an active fundraiser for Israel in London, and volunteering in Israel following the Six Day War, Baruch Tanaman made came to live in Israel in 1978 with his wife and three small children. ...
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