Joan Weisman ... a true daughter of Israel

Joan (Stein) Weisman came to Israel in August 1972 and two weeks later started teaching. She lived in Jerusalem and travelled to Kiryat Malachi every day to work in two elementary schools. Four years later, she moved to Agron School in Jerusalem. At this stage she thought of leaving teaching, and in her Sabbatical year she did a tennis coaching course at the Wingate Institute, but ultimately she decided to stay with the Department of Education. Tennis was not her only sport. Joan was also a certified soccer referee, and walking was part of her daily routine.

She then married and moved to live in Kiryat Shmona where she taught tennis at the kibbutzim of Menara and Amir, and also in Metulla.

The Weismans later set up home in Karmiel and Joan taught in the Horowitz High School for fifteen very happy years. Her two daughters, Bracha and Elana, enjoyed wonderful years growing up in Karmiel.

Wanting to “leave teaching while I was still enjoying my work”, Joan decided to take an early pension. She then began working for the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) in Karmiel.

For three years she was the volunteer coordinator for the gap year program, as well as the Aliyah person for new immigrants to the local absorption center. She also wrote grant requests for people who needed assistance from the UJIA Funds.

Joan later taught English in a program for gifted children from the Arab and Druze sectors at the Ort College in Karmiel.

Joan's husband, Alan, passed away in 2006, and in 2008 she moved to Netanya and once again immersed herself in volunteering. She joined ESRA and became involved in several projects.

She started with the Ethiopian Choir and the Ethiopian Contemporary Dance Group where her volunteering went beyond merely coordinating. She often had to take on the role of “mother” and was deeply loved by all the girls.

Later she volunteered for the ESRA Calendar, encouraging people to place adverts and wishes in the calendar. She also helped set up the Netanya Lectures. Joan was completely committed and dedicated to each of her projects, and her welcoming personality enthused those who volunteered with her.

We worked together organizing the Lecture Series in Netanya, and Joan's role was to make contact with the lecturers and persuade them to agree on lecture dates. Because of Joan's sincerity and warm-heartedness, our lecturers agreed to every request she made of them.

Joan always introduced each lecturer with a thoughtful presentation, noting something particular and pleasant about him/her. When the lecture was over, as if she had taken notes, she would thank the lecturer, while referring to a specific point that had been made.

Her enthusiasm didn't stop at lectures. She organized evenings at the ballet, a morning watching rehearsals at the Batsheva Ballet School, a guided walk of Sarona and classical music evenings…extra-curricular activities with the lecturers.

We spent many hours either by email or on the phone discussing lecturers and topics…“ESRA business”. Our phone calls invariably ended in exchanges about our families, and especially about religion, because Joan loved going to shul and to “shiurim”.

She was a true daughter of Israel. She lived her life in the true spirit of what it means to be a Jew. She gave of herself and she lived the principle of “tikun olam” in her own quiet way.

Joan touched so many lives that whoever she was with felt that she genuinely valued them as a person and a friend. She was just finding her way back to all of us when she left us so unpredictably. 

She will be missed by her daughters Bracha and Elana, their husbands Eran and Doron, and their children Eilam, Ayal and Gefen.

She will be missed by all of us.

Ros Ben Ezra and Norma Altman.

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