Bayit Cham Nina Zuck
After visiting Bayit Cham, one of our new volunteers offered to do a bingo afternoon with the teenage girls at risk there. She arrived to a welcome by 18 girls and a great afternoon was enjoyed by all. It seems that the idea of games is a really good one and we have been promised more of this type of activity in the future.
Knitters at Protea Village Rika Meyerowitz
The Protea Village knitting group which was started by the late Ita Wiener continues to flourish under the able leadership of Daphne Davis and the very lovely ladies of the Village.
Every year the ladies knit the most beautiful sweaters which are then given to children in the Neot Shaked neighborhood of Netanya. This year they excelled and produced 189 sweaters!
A tradition was started where the ladies come to the community center and a little party is given by the Kat Gan (the nursery school) and then the items are handed out. Each child gets a sweater and a parcel of sweaters for their siblings. The delight on the children’s faces makes everything well worthwhile.
On behalf of the children, parents and us at ESRA we thank you all for your wonderful work. We look forward to meeting again next year.
ESRA Hand in Hand Food Pantry Rika Meyerowitz
The ESRA Hand in Hand Food Pantry continues to flourish. Every month 100 parcels are packed and distributed to needy families in the Neot Shaked neighborhood. An additional 20 parcels are packed and distributed to physically challenged persons living in Netanya.
This is the second year that we are also paying for hot lunches for children in the first grade who come to the After School Learning Center in Neot Shaked. Here they receive help with their homework and participate in other activities that hone their mental and motor skills to bring them up to the standard of their peers.
At present we have funds for 25 children. With more money we would be able to help many more children in this worthwhile project. The educational part of the program is supported by other organizations.
We are holding a music evening with Gil Shohat, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Israel Chamber Orchestra on March 31 at the Sharon Hotel, Herzliya Pituach.
There is lots happening in Netanya all the time! Anyone interested in volunteering for, or visiting, any of our programs should call Gloria Scott at 09 865 1215 or Nina Zuck at 09 862 3228.
ESRA/Nofei Hasharon Knitting Circle
By Cecelia Kriss
On a rainy and cheerless Tuesday morning in November we visited the Community Center in Neot Ganim to give the Ethiopian children at the Katgan sweaters that we had knitted for them.
The reception the staff and children gave us was heartwarming and all twenty children at the kindergarten were fitted with beautiful sweaters for Chanukah.
Their needs are ongoing, so if anyone would like to join us they are more than welcome. This is a combined ESRA - Nofei Hasharon project, and we meet every Sunday morning at 10.00 at Nofei Hasharon. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to knit at home, we will supply the yarn and needles.
I would like to thank the staff of Nofei Hasharon for their continued support for this project, and also, of course, all the ladies, who knitted the beautiful sweaters.
English without Borders - in Netanya
By Ivy Schwartz
The second English Tutors Training Session (first one held in 2006), took place on October 23 at the Yona Apartments meeting room in Netanya. For those who attended, former tutors and the newly recruited, it was a very special experience.
Many of the tutors who volunteered last year returned for a “refresher course”. Michal Mitrani, English Coordinator for Ort Leibowitz High School, thanked our tutors for their efforts last year. She described how appreciative the students were and how well they did in their bagrut exams. She then explained to the new group of tutors how they can help the students for bagrut.
Next, a dynamic interactive session on communication was led by Lola Katz. When we saw the retirees taking copious notes, asking questions, discussing possible dilemmas, we knew that the tutors were totally connected and involved with Lola and her presentation.
We have 20 trained tutors, many returnees and some new. We will be servicing an elementary school, three junior high schools, and one high school. Now that the strike has ended, we need many more tutors as we have promised to service at least 10 schools at all levels.
Many thanks to Yona Apartments for lending us their meeting room and to the steering committee - Ros Ben Esra, Ada Kaplan, Annette Gordon and of course the extraordinary Nina Zuck.
Special thanks to Michal Mitrani and Lola Katz for their inspiring and enthusiastic presentations.
The Right Track Centers
By Ros & Henry Ben Ezra
There are four Right Track Centers in Netanya, set up by the Netanya Municipality. They cater for neighborhood youth during after-school hours and provide both social and educational activities.
ESRAs role in these centers is to employ teachers of maths, physics, English, history and Hebrew grammar. These teachers sit with the children in small groups and help them with their homework or with preparation for tests.
During one of our visits to the center in the Sela neighborhood we watched a magician with a novel approach. He kept an audience of 30 children spellbound with his magic tricks which were accompanied by a scientific explanation.
Ros and Henry Ben Ezra have recently taken over the volunteer coordination of the Right Track Centers in Netanya.
Entertainment at Ruppin College
By Sheila Kaye
On an exceptionally hot Tuesday in November Nina Zuck and I drove to Ruppin College, laden with a variety of hand-embroidered articles, all produced by the Ethiopian Embroidery Group. We set up our table under a tree hoping to attract buyers, but although we were visited by charming students, none of them, as we had anticipated, was there to buy. Before long we were entertained with dancing and singing by several Ethiopian students. We had arrived at the celebration of the Ethiopian Festival of Sigd where, back in Ethiopia, the congregation would go into the mountains and pray to G-d for aliyah to Israel. Now that their prayers have been answered, they celebrate the day by thanking G-d and singing His praises. So we were royally entertained with snappy music and fine flute playing by one talented youngster, followed by exuberant dancing and singing by the rest. Thereafter we joined the many students crowding around to partake of a delicious Ethiopian meal consisting of interesting vegetable dishes to be scooped up by homemade injera (Ethiopian bread). To finish off we enjoyed a cup of tea flavored with cloves and cinnamon. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.
English tutoring for Ethiopian students at Ruppin College
By Ivy Schwartz
Dr. Moshe Sharir of Ruppin College contacted ESRA regarding a new program instituted by the College specifically for Ethiopian students. The Department for Immigration and Social Integration will provide studies in math, sociology, economics, business management and accounting. Having finished their army service, the students have all done a year’s preparatory course and are now in their first year. They are bright students, but their English is extremely limited. As all the research texts are in English, many have difficulty advancing in their studies and completing the program successfully. There are currently 23 students who need extra tutoring in English. The students are available to come to the homes of the tutors. This program, that is, matching these students with volunteer tutors in Netanya will fall under the umbrella of the Tutorial program sponsored by ESRA and AACI in Netanya. We have already started with two of the students, but need more tutors. These students will ultimately participate themselves as mentors to children and families in their own neighborhoods as part of their studies in sociology.
Members of the Diplomatic Spouses’ Club visit Netanya Projects
On one of our wettest winter days, the intrepid members of the Diplomatic Spouses’ Club headed by their President, Inara Eichenbauma, were taken by an ESRA team to two Netanya projects and one in Kfar Saba.
Their thank you letter quoted below says it all:
On behalf of the Diplomatic Spouses’ Club, I would like to thank all of you for introducing us to ESRA and its work.
We were happy to meet you and learn more about your voluntary work. Thank you for guiding us through the history of the Association, its achievements, goals and future plans.
It was a very significant experience to visit different projects, like the Sewing Center in Kiryat Nordau in Netanya in its new premises, where devoted volunteers work with Ethiopian community on a regular basis. After this visit, a quote by Waren G. Lester came to my mind: “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand wel”, and the work you do in this Center is a living testimony to his words.
It was nice to meet the group of children at the Ort Guttman After-School Learning Center where they study English. They seemed so excited to be communicating with us. Moreover, our visit may have also served as a brief study of geography to them, since we, six visitors (including little handsome Mathias) represented five different countries from four continents.
The day was concluded with a visit to an afternoon kindergarten for children from underprivileged families in Kfar Saba, where each group of kids was busy working on a small project. Some were doing coloring and cutting work, while others were learning about colors, playing with wooden blocks or hunting for treasure in a box full of flour. They seemed so happy. The visit reminded me of another quote, this time, by Thomas Bray: “Never fear spoiling children by making them too happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in which all good affections grow”.
Thank you so much for all those little reminders and for being such wonderful guides for this special day!
President, Diplomatic Spouses’ Club in Israel