What the Esra community has achieved
With Tuesday October 28 fast approaching, I wish you a great event and a wonderful celebration of all you – and the Esra community – have achieved.
I don't know if you are aware of how instrumental you were, Merle, in Matanya’s and my aliyah. It happened when you came to Cape Town round about 1985, as a short term emissary for the South African Zionist Organization (Telfed). You gave an inspiring speech to the effect that one didn't have to be fluent in Hebrew to make a successful aliyah and that Esra could provide a home-away-from-home for us Anglos.
Matanya in particular, was very influenced by your words and I believe it was then that he decided to make the move. In the recent years before he passed away, he enjoyed working in the Esra shop in Raanana and felt privileged to share the special light and energy of the late Motti Weiner. I also remember how much my father-in-law, Morris Bacher, was energized by Esra; he saw himself as a founding member of the organization and would have taken pride in your 30th anniversary celebration.
Over the years you, Merle, and Adele have been a great support to me. In the early years, Adele encouraged me to be a lay counselor and to see my volunteering as a launch-pad for developing a private therapeutic practice. It did indeed help me in the early days of my aliyah. Later you got me involved in training the “befrienders” and for a while we experimented together with establishing a crisis counseling organization. That was certainly an idea that turned me on and I was sad that we never could get that going. I have also run women’s groups under the Esra umbrella.
I did the Esravision training program and have been involved in Esravision, even producing a couple of clips for it. I don’t have time for this at the moment but have made good use of the skills I learned in putting together clips for Beit Issie Shapiro and other personal productions. I am an occasional participant in your singalongs and Esra Magazine has given voice to my creative writing. All that ever limits me is that there isn't enough time to do more of the things that Esra offers.
I truly admire you, Merle and Adele, and the many others who contribute to making our community so vital and active in so many diverse ways: culturally, socially and philanthropically. You provide a secular base in which new immigrants establish friendships and find a vital sense of belonging, you are a resource to countless people and causes and you make it possible for us all to grow and live in Israel meaningfully.
I wish you good health, continued energy and inspiration and may Esra continue to fulfill the many roles that our community now defines for it.
As they say – ' ad 120!'
Sharon Bacher, Raanana
Fair Chance for Children receive Esra’s knitted garments
We were lucky to find Sharona Harish, a lawyer, who knows and does so much for the less fortunate among us. Through her, our Esra knitting groups have found outlets to which to donate our knitted and crocheted items which we know go directly to needy children, adults and senior folk.
Sharona put us in contact with a volunteer of many years, Yehudith Nussbaum, who is the project chair and executive board member of YELADIM- FAIR CHANCE FOR CHILDREN, a voluntary organization of professionals, academics and concerned citizens whose mission it is "to reach each and every child that is removed from his or her home and placed in a group home or foster family, in order to improve their chances for a better future".
We had never heard of this wonderful organization and were absolutely astounded by the sheer numbers of children in distress – there are over 6000 children in Israel, from the ages of three months to 18 years, who live in over 80 residential group homes and with foster families.
Yehudith came to talk to our two groups and told us how they raise funds to be able to employ councilors to give these children the one-on-one attention they so need and deserve.
Perhaps you, the reader, would be interested to read and know all about their work. If so, the organization is more than willing to send you a brochure in English or Hebrew which will give an insight into all that they are trying to do.
Their telephone number is: 03 647 5075 or Fax no. 03 647 5076
Shirley Kirsch, co-ordinator, Esra Tel Aviv Knitting and Crochet Social Circle
Wendy Goldstein, co-ordinator, Esra Raanana Knitting Group
Since 1979, I've observed Esra magazines evolve from a modest twelve pages to today's majestic 96 pages, with their contents, columns, contributors and features invariably informative and exciting to read. Esra magazine today is what may be described as a 'rainbow magazine', with its variety of themes, reports, up-to-date coverage of events and discussion forums, all adding up to a bright literary mosaic of Israel's English speaking community. I hope to continue reading and writing for Esra magazine for many years to come.
Gidon Levitas, Netanya.
Saving pain and embarrassment
Thank you Esra for generously helping the child Diana. I am sure you receive lots of requests and this is not the first time you are helping us… Your donation has enabled Diana to start the academic year in the first grade with a smile and not to feel different from others – you have saved her embarrassment and pain.
Rina Bar-Or, social worker, the Open Line, Natal, the organization for trauma victims.
Thank you Esra
In January 1984 my wife and I moved to Herzliya. That same evening, before we even unpacked our bags, a delegation from an organization, called Esra, visited us. They asked me to be the next chairman of Esra. From that moment on Esra became an integral part of my life.
Wherever I am, whoever I am with, Esra enters the conversation. Someone may ask: “What is Esra?” “Well,” I answer: When it was founded, it functioned, as per its initial English lettering, in the assistance to English Speaking Immigrants.”
Over the course of time, people learnt a vital factor. When you help others, you have a satisfaction, a sense of gratification and wellbeing; you have something special in your life. So Esra entered the field not only with functions for English speakers, but with projects to help one and all, irrespective of their country of origin and irrespective of their age.
There are those who travel daily taking incapacitated and backward children to their different activities. In addition to all the numerous functions and clubs there are many projects, the participants are Russian and Ethiopian, young and old, learning computers and embroidery, working with food aid, welfare, and learning centers for special needs and there are many more. I am not one of these wonderful people doing these things, but whether as chairman, treasurer, business administrator of the Esra Magazine or many years as chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, I had my reward knowing that in some way I am contributing by helping those who are doing all this.
Thank you Esra
Josie Shlain, Herzliya
The man who restored my health
I had two operations in March. Seven weeks later I left the hospital in a wheelchair fearing that I would never walk again. Sammy Duinkerk came to me as a part-time caregiver, although after 18 years of hospital experience he was much more than that. He accompanied me to my various doctors and ensured that all their complex instructions were carried out. He consulted with them, dressed my wounds with professional expertise, gave me daily physiotherapy and massage and ensured that I complied with the necessities for my condition.
Being a Londoner, Sammy stands for no nonsense but has a heart of gold. I experienced immediate improvements, small at first, and then bigger, in quick succession.Within two months I was on my feet and got rid of my wheelchair. Within another month he restored me fully to the way I was before my illness.
I will always remember him as the man who gave me my second life of good health. I know that he can do the same for many other people who are in a similar situation to the one I was in.
Harold Levius, Netanya
Thirty years of reaching out
I'm moved to write these few words to you, Merle. This is not flattery but honest-to-goodness truth that bears also the ring of who and what you are.
Thirty years of exemplary effort to bring a dream to reality – you have become a figure-head for all of us in Esra. You put your exuberance for life and living into a live and living family of friends and volunteers, helping so many others who so need a word of encouragement and help. This help means so much to so many - often unforgettable acts of generosity by people giving of their own lives to help others.
And the magazine – from a simple flier some thirty years ago to this "THIRTY YEAR" edition which is surely a pinnacle of excellence reaching out to so many with humor, grace and, indeed, distinction.
May you know many, many more years of such leadership - may you and your family always enjoy good health, wellbeing and happiness in the coming New Year and all to follow.
Mervyn Medicks, Raanana
What is black and white...
I wish to voice my agreement with Maurice Ostroff (Esra Magazine #146, p. 10) regarding his comments on the use of colored shading behind text and pictures. It seems to be the trend these days in newspapers and magazines.
Years ago we used to say: "What is black and white and 'read' all over? A newspaper.
You still have a fine magazine. Thanks.
Tova Berman, Raanana