Pesach is almost upon us, when we will celebrate our redemption from Pharaoh and our journey to the Promised Land. We arrived, thrived, were thrown out and here we are starting over again. Nearly 70 years after the founding of modern day Israel we are still working hard to ensure the success of our State. ESRA has been a part of that endeavor for nearly four decades and today we are stronger than ever, providing the English speaking community with activities and opportunities for volunteering, and working hard to help the needier in Israeli society. Among our many projects are those that focus on helping to advance the education of Israeli children, children from areas that need a boost to help their youngsters go further. What better way to celebrate our existence as a people, a nation, a group of caring volunteers, than to put a smile on the face of a child who now has a better chance in life?
We have on occasion been asked why so many of ESRA’s Projects are located in the Netanya area. Well, it was not planned that way, but there are some very good reasons for this. Firstly, our Netanya volunteers have been very active in setting up and working in these projects. Secondly, the Netanya municipality has proven to be a willing and active partner. Thirdly, Netanya includes large communities of immigrants where extra help is needed and welcomed. Over 10,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent reside in Netanya, by far the highest number in any town in Israel. The children are thirsty for successful integration into Israeli society, and our help with their education helps them achieve it.
Netanya serves as an excellent example of successful community intervention and volunteering. It displays all three elements required for setting up a project: identification of a Need, active Volunteers, and willing Partners. No, I have not forgotten the financial aspects of a Project, but once the first three elements are in place, it’s a matter of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. A project budget can be prepared and then we set about working out where the funds are going to come from. Our work is funded by donations from individuals and foundations. In addition, our financial requirements are largely met by ESRA’s own fundraising activities, by our ESRA Branches, our Fundraising Committee and our 'Nearly New' Secondhand Shops and Bookshops, all led by our volunteers. Another avenue of project funding is through charitable bequests to ESRA from members and donors who want to continue making a difference into the future.
ESRA is always happy to add new projects in any of our ESRA Branch areas, so long as the necessary elements are in place. For instance, Modiin has established a Neve ESRA After School Care Centre, providing a safe haven and help to needy children. ESRA Modiin provided the volunteers and arranged the partnerships. The ESRA Modiin Branch also finances the project from its activities and bookshop. But not every ESRA Project needs to be so big. The Knitting Circle in Rishon Lezion is an example of a smaller-scale, project. Beautifully crafted garments made by our ESRA volunteer knitters are donated to immigrants and disadvantaged families who receive them with delight and thanks. We look forward to many more projects being started by ESRA Branches throughout Israel.
On 7 June ESRA will be holding its AGM when all ESRA members are entitled to stand for office and vote in the elections of the ESRA Executive. Our organization is run by volunteers, aided by our small and capable staff. Those on the Executive give of their time and talents as volunteers, just as do those who volunteer in the English Tutoring Program, who distribute the magazines, work in our shops, and run the ESRA branches around the country. ESRA is volunteering and giving for the good of others. We look forward to seeing great numbers of our wonderful ESRA volunteers at the AGM. We also look forward to hearing what you have to say, your comments, your likes and dislikes. Volunteers and supporters are welcomed and encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas with the Executive not only at the AGM, but at any time during the year so that we can continue to grow and improve.
With best wishes to you and your families for a Chag Pesach Sameach
"He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own."