Anything to say? Comments about this issue? We'd love to hear from you. Send emails to, or write to: Letters, ESRAmagazine, PO Box 5816, Herzliiya 4615702. Letters will only be considered if you include your name, address and phone number. The Editor reserves the right to trim letters where necessary.

You can also comment on individual articles by scrolling down to the end of the article and filling the "Comments" form.

Don’t let Strauss lead you a waltz on maintenance

Do you pay Strauss NIS71 a month for maintenance on your Tami 4 Primo water bar? I pay only NIS51. You can, too! A Strauss customer rep offered me  a maintenance package for my Tami 4 Primo water bar. The package would cost me NIS852 a year for insurance, 2 carbon filters, and 2 UV bulbs. That's NIS71 a month. That's a high price for cheap components and insurance that I probably won't need. So I turned down the offer, and did a few Googles.

A red flag immediately appeared: Strauss engineered a lock on their carbon filters and patented this lock. As a result, filters from another vendor won't work on your Tami 4. This gives Strauss a monopoly on filters and enables them to gouge us.

Two days later, Strauss called a second time and offered me NIS61 instead of NIS71. That’s 14% off. I still wanted to see whether ZAP listed cheaper alternatives, so I turned them down again. A few days later Strauss called a third time. This time they offered me NIS51. That's 28% off! I agreed.

So when you deal with Strauss and their monopoly prices, just say no! They will probably offer you the same 28% discount that I got.

Eli Lato Holon


Civil rights center is a success four years on

While writing about the rebirth of the ESRA Embroidery Project in Sderot for this magazine, in which I stressed the contribution of kibbutz members (see page …), I was reminded of an article I wrote four years ago for the magazine, called Synergy, Sderot and Sapir College.

Initial volunteers trained at Sapir in the Mezach project in 2012

It was about a project called Mezach which American born Dr Merav Moshe Godovsky, the current head of the Social Work Department of Sapir founded here in Sderot. It is a Civil Rights Center which aims to help the very mixed population with bureaucratic and other problems. It is under the patronage of a professor from McGill University in Canada.

Our group of volunteers was the first to be trained at Sapir to learn to do intake for the clients. Today amongst the volunteers are two kibbutz members, Russian speakers and people who have been helped. 

The project also employs a paid lawyer and a community worker. It has been most successful in helping individuals and in lobbying to improve services (the bus service, the health services, in demanding the reopening of the mental health center, and an increase in the benefits for trauma victims from National Insurance by lobbying in the Knesset). Now there is a branch in Ofakim and soon there will be another in Beersheba.

When we came to Sderot nine years ago I was surprised to still find resentment amongst

the old-timers who felt that they had been exploited by the kibbutzim (where the only jobs were) and today there is a change.

It is wonderful to have been a volunteer in the project from the beginning, to see its success and to have wonderful kibbutz members in the Embroidery Program.

Adele Rubin Sderot


Bridging that gap

What happened to the bridge page in the last ESRAmagazine? it is the first thing I look for.

Aubrey Gordon, Modiin

The Editor writes: Our apologies. The column was missing as our bridge correspondent, Alan Caplan, was on a roots trip to Africa with family. But if you turn to page 90 of this issue, youll be delighted to see that its

Scholarship lessened my financial worries

I would like to thank you for your attention and for the scholarship that I received this year. This scholarship helps me a lot in financing my studies, and lessened my financial worries.

I am a second year student in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and always wished to go for academic studies and to achieve my degree. This financial support helps me to fulfill my dreams with pride and motivation.

Rachel F. Beit Shemesh


Pensions: Stay ahead and don’t lose out

My pension is in Migdal. I recently learned that Migdal starts paying my pension three months after I request it, and they do not pay retroactively for those three months. In other words, if you don’t apply for your pension three months in advance, Migdal gains three months of your pension!

This sounds unfair, but it’s probably legal. So several months before you start taking your pension, check your company's procedures.

Eli Lato Holon


Adele still going the extra mile-by telephone

Adele Ayalon has been a volunteer with the ESRAmagazine group in Netanya for years, helping with the packing and delivery. Although she lived in Tel Yitzhak and not inside Netanya, she came into Netanya to pack and collect the magazines. Two and a half years ago Adele moved to Herzliya, but she still came to Netanya to pick up the magazines, and continued to deliver them in Tel Yitzhak. With the traffic and holdups on Israel's roads today, that is going above and beyond what Adele can do. However, she is still continuing to help with telephoning other volunteers to arrange the deliveries.

Thank you, Adele, for all you have done and for what you are still doing.

Sheila Keshev

Volunteer Coordinator of ESRAmagazines’ distribution in Netanya


You’re magic, Bob!

Robert Bachmann wrote in the last issue of ESRAmagazine how he loves being an ESRA volunteer teaching English at the Dekel Elementary School in Raanana. The feeling is obviously mutual – as these letters from some of his pupils testify . . .

On our one-day-a-week ‘holiday’ we see Tel Aviv with new eyes

We recently discovered a great idea about one-day holidays in Tel Aviv, instead of just working at our respective computers every day.

Once a week we take a day card (kartis yomi) which costs six and a half shekels.  This gives us unlimited travel around the city and its precincts for the day, on our “all route” (rav kav) card (the driver fills all this in).  Then we're free to go anywhere our fancy leads us!  We can take any bus that comes along.  (Note: you qualify for the card if you're in your sixties.  We passed this hurdle about 20 years ago – we're free!).

So far we've been "overseas" to Bnei Brak (a world unto itself), the "with it" world of Florentine (great fun and really professional street graffiti), a trip to the Tel Aviv port (highly interesting), and a film.  Then of course we stop over for something to eat or drink at any place that catches our fancy.

We mix in things that we have to do or get, but only at the end of our trip, and then we come home tired but feeling really great.

Of course, there's plenty more to come.  My favorite market, Hatikva, is next on the list (no. 7 bus gets us right there).  Then there are the old houses of Rothschild Boulevard, the Jaffa Port, Bat Yam beach, then … well, well, let's keep it "off the cuff"! I think like a tourist (never been here before), and look at everything with new eyes.

I notice that many of Tel Aviv's old buildings could do with a bit of a "face-lift". Maybe I'll write to the mayor!

Mike Porter Tel Aviv


Were Nazi stamps the
work of this man?
Were Nazi stamps the work of this man?
A stamp Max Stern might have forged for the Nazis.

ESRA Magazine #184 had an article on stamp forgeries that were produced by concentration camp victims for the Nazi regime. I sent the article to Alan Benjamin, a philatelist, who had written an obituary on the Holocaust survivor Max Stern who in 1948 emigrated to Australia and became one of the world’s foremost stamp dealers. Stern was born in Slovakia in 1921 and was an 18-year-old would-be stamp dealer at the outbreak of World War II. He survived the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, and Inmates of the camp were forced to produce propaganda forgeries of British postage stamps. Benjamin in his obituary on Stern writes: "One wonders if Max was forced to work on any of these stamp forgeries?" (See the Judaica Thematic Society Newsletter, April 2016, No. 125 (

Leila Cumber London, UK


Old mags are too good to throw away

I "disposed" of 20 old ESRAmagazines in three blocks of apartments in Ibn Gvirol street, Tel Aviv (24-hour laundry, hair stylist, restaurants, waiting rooms, any place I saw magazines for the customers), and they were only too happy to get them.  To those who asked, I said, “a magazine in English – we are volunteers” (choveret b'Anglit - anachnoo midnadvim).

Other people in different cities could easily place magazines in any waiting areas. It wouldn't take more than 20 minutes or half an hour of their time. 

This is also a good selling point to advertisers if we can do this on a regular basis. The adverts are seen by a far wider audience.

What I always say – the magazines are too good to throw away. Let the people see them.

Mike Porter Tel Aviv


Listing those non-kosher eateries certainly took the punch out of brunch

When I read your “Word from the Editor,’ I grabbed a pencil to write down the “10 places to have brunch.” Alas, only one was kosher. This took the punch out of the brunch. Would you say that only one out of ten readers of ESRAmagazine keeps kosher? Dear Buzzy, the “man who came to brunch”, I, for one, am looking forward to your writing about 7 kosher ‘bruncheries’ which are not necessarily in Tel Aviv, but in Hod Hasharon, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Raanana and Jerusalem.

On the bright side, I particularly loved the article by Sara Rabani (p.38-9) on Mevo’ot Yericho.

Judy Shapiro Kfar Saba

Editor’s Note:

We received several letters on the “10 best brunches” article, similar to that above. I quote from an answer our chairman, Baruch Tanaman, wrote to one of the writers:

“The articles in ESRA's Magazine are written by various contributors and the Editorial Board members, under Merle Guttmann, do a tremendous job of ensuring that they are of suitable quality and content for the magazine. That does not, of course, mean that everyone is always happy with the content. Personally, I think you make a good point on this occasion and there could have been a better balance, but the writer might not agree with me.

“ESRA has members from the whole range of political and religious viewpoints and we do indeed try to be inclusive and endeavor not to offend anyone. I am sure that you understand that this is an almost impossible task, but we will continue to do all that we can to provide a good service to our members while helping the disadvantaged in Israeli society, via our projects and welfare.”

Furthermore, says Buzzy Gordon, who reviewed the brunch restaurants, and who is a professional restaurant reviewer for The Jerusalem Post, Ynetnews, Frommer et al: “The Jerusalem Post scrounges to find kosher places, and the 10% we had in ESRAmagazine is not much lower than the percentage in the JP. Moreover, very few kosher options would qualify under the definition set out: primarily, that the restaurant has a dedicated brunch menu; the article was about brunches, not breakfasts or lunches. The nature of brunches is that they are served primarily on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. My goal is to present the BEST places and the ones I featured are considered the best. The fact of the matter is that Tel Aviv, with its intensive concentration of restaurants, will invariably dominate. And people come into Tel Aviv for all sorts of cultural events, at which time many opt to eat out as well. Nevertheless, the list did include restaurants in other cities, including Herzliya, Kfar Saba and Rishon.”

Merle Guttmann


Please keep out of politics, ESRA, it doesn’t suit you

As a long standing member and great admirer of ESRa since the first days of its inception, i was more than a little distressed to read Sara Rabani’s article in (ESRAmagazine #186). i honestly do not think that it is appropriate for you to publish political opinions, no matter how beautifully written and naively or well intentionally phrased. The subject of Jewish settlement in the West Bank is one of the most critical and disputed issues in israel now and it should not and may not be concealed as a beautiful pastoral story. ESRa is an organization founded for, and continuing in the spirit of, encouraging voluntary helpfulness, and personally i do not think that it should host ‘political’ statements.

Bernice Lewak Zohn Herzliya


... and Trump jibe wasn’t palatable, either

In an otherwise interesting and informative issue (ESRAmagazine #186), I was disappointed to see the sophomoric anti-Trump joke (A bit of Humor) despite your claim to be an apolitical organization.

I was also surprised that Buzzy Gordon was able to cite only one kosher restaurant out of ten reviewed. Here in Nahariya we have several kosher restaurants serving tasty breakfast menus all day long.
Nancy Milgram, Nahariya

ESRA calendar ‘a great gift to send abroad’.
I Would like to thank ESRA for the 2016/17 calendar and for the recipes therein. I found this calendar to be a very useful gift to send to friends abroad, in particular as the sending of same is carried out by ESRA.
Naomi Ariel, Herzliya
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