Motivated by founder Merle Guttmann, by Adele Rubin and other ESRA volunteers with backgrounds in social service and community work, Gidon has been an active ESRA member in Netanya for over twenty six years. A veteran immigrant from South Africa at the age of 18 in 1954, he facilitated Merle's invitation to a Telfed Netanya committee meeting in 1984 to introduce ESRA. English speaking Netanya groups at the time were unaware of ESRA's potential as a broad based Sharon area multi-activity association catering to social needs and also contributing to community projects. Gidon was involved with Telfed and also joined a Netanya nucleus of ESRA volunteers. He brought the ESRA magazine bundles from Merle's home in Kfar Shmaryahu to Netanya and distributed them to individual home deliverers all around town and to Netanya's tourist office.He also had his own hefty delivery route. He recalls: "I became adept at locating addresses, climbing stairs where elevators were absent, and noting errors on lists I carried. I undertook this for eight years". Gidon collected a Netanya monthly events list which a fellow volunteer compiled, and forwarded it to Merle's office. Later he helped the late Alan Price and Leo Direktor in organizing Netanya ESRA College programs.

As a Netanya municipality social worker employed in the Ramat Yadin quarter renewal project, Gidon practised pooling community resources and cooperating with volunteers where possible. He supported ESRA activities and rapidly growing community projects and kept in contact with ESRA leaders including Adele Hunter, coordinator of ESRA's welfare fund, who valued his assessments and recommendations concerning applications. He also assisted the late Esta Azouz in establishing ESRA’s sewing center in Netanya for Ethiopian immigrants in Ramat Yadin's community center, run with donated sewing machines and competent sewing instructors, and stored the donated materials for all ESRA’s sewing centers in Netanya.  

In 1992, Gidon began writing for ESRA Magazine and contributes many articles on various topics.

These days, an active pensioner, he's still imbued with the spirit of ESRA, an indefinable but easily noticed 'bug' affecting many like him who keep involved. He is a volunteer in several ESRA projects: he tutors English to pupils at a local high school, helps transport donated food items to the Hand-in-Hand Pantry, is an active local committee member, and now once more assists in delivering magazine bundles to the Tourist Office, sometimes accompanied by grandsons. His wife Erga volunteers at ESRA's Netanya Nearly New Shop.

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Merle Guttmann

Merle Guttmann was born and educated in Zimbabwe and immigrated to Israel in 1962. She is well-known in Israeli Anglophone circles and Israel’s social and volunteer fields. A social planner, ...
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