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Readers' Letters - 209

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Nordic Poles and a dog's lead

I have just solved a problem that has made a huge difference to my daily life. I have managed to combine two activities that I thought were not possible - walking with Nordic poles and taking my dog for a walk.

My thanks to Dr Silverberg, who introduced me to Nordic walking-poles which enabled me to walk much further than I could without them. However, I needed both hands to hold on to the Nordic Poles which meant that I didn't have a hand free to hold the dog's lead.

I made a chance remark in the pet-shop about this problem and was surprised to find that I am not alone. Even better news was that there is a solution. The pet shop assistant told me that it is possible to buy a belt with a dog's lead attachment.

I can now walk many kilometers a day with my dog and we are both feeling the benefit.

Bette Lubin, Degania Bet 

We too sailed on the Bilu

I enjoyed reading the article about the MV Bilu ship in ESRA Magazine 208, March 2021. As a newly married couple living in Atlanta, GA, we booked a winter holiday cruise from Miami to the Bahamas in December 1963 / January 1964 on the MV BILU. As soon as I heard the name, I thought of the Zionist mantra, "Beit Israel Lechu V'naylcha" (House of Israel Let us go, and ascend). The ship was pretty full of vacationers, mostly Americans, who had no idea it was an Israeli ship. It was flying under another country's flag.

After a while, we began hearing snippets of Hebrew spoken by the crew, which confirmed our hunch. The captain was a middle-aged man who welcomed the passengers kindly.

New Year's Eve was celebrated with all the trimmings, hats and horns, music and bubbly! We had a grand time sailing to Grand Bahamas and Nassau and back to Miami.

Many years later, we had another delightful cruise in Alaska on the Carnival Line. It turned out that one of our Israeli relations was an officer in the company and we were treated royally.

Nancy and Elliot Milgram, Nahariya 


Most beautiful cover

I just wanted to compliment you on the most beautiful cover of the latest magazine (March 2021). It is so fresh and inviting, it really makes you want to open it, find a comfy spot to sit down in and indulge

yourself in the magazine. Well done!

Candy Bliss, Netanya 


Finland and its amazing people

Many thanks for the fascinating and in-depth article by Serah Beizer (ESRA Magazine, March 2021).

My wife and I had the privilege of living in Helsinki from 2013 to 2015, and became dedicated members of the Jewish community, where we made many friends. From them we learned something of the history of the Jews in Finland, which mainly confirms what was written in the article. The key point is that certainly compared to most other European countries, Finland had an extremely good record of the way in which it treated its Jews. We understood that Hitler demanded from Carl Gustaf Mannerheim that he hand over all the Jews, to which Mannerheim is reputed to have answered "we don't have any Jews here, we only have Finns."

In those dark days, it must have been incredibly difficult to navigate between the German war machine and the long-feared Soviets, and certainly after the war, Finland paid the price of initially fighting with the Nazis against the Russians, even though from November 1944 they fought against the Nazis in the Lapland War. On a visit to the Lusto Finnish Forest Museum at Punkaharju, we saw an exhibition showing life in Finland in the years immediately after the war. Between 1945 and 1952, the entire output of the country, approximately 340,000 rail cars of produce, was sent to Russia as "reparations for being on the wrong side", leaving the Finnish economy in total ruin and the people starving.

During our time in Helsinki, we were impressed time and again of the warm affection of the people towards Israel, an affection not always reflected in official government policy. At one memorable Jewish celebration event held in a large auditorium in Espoo near Helsinki, we were amazed when at the end of the evening the whole audience of around 700 people stood up to sing Hatikvah. Out of the audience, maybe 50 people were Jewish. We have many fond memories of our stay in that amazing country.

David Toubkin, Haifa


Horrified by my bloopers!

Firstly, I also wish to compliment you on the latest edition of the ESRA Magazine, March 2021. The layout is great and contained many excellent and informative articles– up to the regular high standard! I was particularly pleased to find one by my good friend Joe Schwarz, who I told that he should have submitted it a long time ago.

I wish to share my thoughts on a published letter regarding my article on Bagrut bloopers. For all of us English-speaking newcomers, the making of mistakes in Hebrew (many of them hilarious), is a rite of passage. We laugh at them, often recount them and linguistic faux-pax, and have read each other's amusing stories of these errors.

Personally, I have made a fair number (and occasionally do) and have shared them both with friends and students as a didactic tool.

I was initially taken aback by Ms Leibtag's reaction claiming that I was mocking the poor struggling students and that she was insulted, or offended by my callousness and that her grandchildren were "horrified" by my behavior.

I hope by now that they have recovered from the trauma. Nowhere was there any mockery or hint at being judgmental.

Incidentally, a few years ago, I gave the nearly identical article to the Chief English Inspector who read it, thoroughly enjoyed it and sent it for publication in an edition of the prestigious English Teaching Journal, published by the Department of Education.

Stephen Schulman, Ramat Hasharon


More on Hativah…

Do you not realize what the HATIKVAH anthem meant to decades of Jews in the Diaspora? It was the glue that stuck us together and gave us our identity, even before we had the State of Israel that you and I are lucky enough to live in.

Can you imagine England changing "God save the Queen"?

Liz Harris, Tel Aviv 


Hatikvah

Dear Alice Krieger,

I read your letter in ESRA Magazine December 2020 edition about Hatikvah. By even mentioning in the same sentence the words Hatikvah and apartheid, you do me a personal injustice. I was at Rhodes University in 1960 and was arrested by the South African Police, charged and sentenced for "anti-apartheid activities" and as a result I know all about that black history of South Africa.

Israel, since my aliyah in 1961, has proven to me that any connection between Hatikvah and apartheid, is only made by people who are ignorant of the facts. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the same rights as do Jewish citizens. They are not restricted in occupations, studying, travel on public transport, etc.

Tzemach Bloomberg, Hod Hasharon


Wheels of Love

I enjoyed reading about Sylvan Adams in ESRA Magazine (issue 208) and his co-ownership of the Israel Cycling Academy (ICA) whose team is named the Israel Start-Up Nation Team.

Biking has been my passion for over the last 10 years, and having completed my first Ironman/woman here in Israel in 2020, I must say that watching our very own Israel bike team make history recently gave me much needed inspiration in my own journey. Speaking for the local biking community, we are so very proud of what our team has achieved on behalf of Israel.

Climbing Nes Harim with our triathlon-road bike team, we passed a young rider (age 12-13), sporting a blue and white biking outfit with a Magen–David, biking with his dad. This climb, in the mountains of Jerusalem, is one of the most popular climbs for all Israel bikers living in the center of the country. I shouted to him, "Kol hakavod to a future rider of the ISN (Israel Start-Up Nation)!"

Perhaps the most important aspect of having a national bike team participate in the international arena is the possibility of attracting the next generation of Israeli bike riders. One member of the Israel team, Gil Sagiv, was the first native born Israeli to compete in the Tour de France, representing Israel.

Having studied at Wingate to be a triathlon trainer for kids, I believe there is a future in Israel for biking as a competitive sport. A good example has been set by Ran Margaliot who founded and is now running a professional bike-training program at the Gino Bartali School in the Ben Shemen Youth Village. The academy is named after Italy's beloved award-winning cyclist who helped smuggle Jews out of Nazi Europe by hiding counterfeit documents hidden in the handlebars of his bicycle. He has been recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations.

Due to a combination of year-round great weather and varied terrain in a small, beautiful country, Israel is heaven for both mountain biking and road biking, both of which I love. Road bike racing is the second part of the triathlon that includes first swimming in the ocean and ending with running.

Although I am a member of several bike groups, biking for Wheels of Love, a fundraiser on behalf of the children of Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem, has been, by far, my favorite ride for the past 10 years. Due to the Corona Virus, the original five-day ride was changed to local rides with continued fundraising efforts. The motto of Wheels of Love is, "Ride a bike; save a life." What better reason is there to ride?

Aviva Lavi, Tel Aviv


Hope Place Liverpool

Dear Barbara Admoni,

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your article – Hannuka 1955 at Hope Place Liverpool in ESRA Magazine (December 2020). I studied at the art school on Hope Street at the end of the 1980s. Your article brought back wonderful memories.

Lisa Isaacs, Modiin


Making things easy for my family

Dear Inge David,

Just a few days ago, my husband's cousin Sue Korman, mentioned your name and I was flooded with memories of my mother's visiting you and your parents, on Springhill Avenue in Baltimore, when we lived around the corner on Overview Road.

It's been a long time, and my mother passed away in 2002. I searched your name on the Internet and found several beautiful write-ups in ESRA Magazine.

I studied in Israel at the Hebrew University in the mid-1970s and have taught at our Schechter School until recently retiring.

Rita Plaut (Kipper)


Sisters of the Same Tree

How marvelous in our deeply troubled times to see such heartfelt, genuine friendship celebrated in the story Sisters of the Same Tree (ESRA Magazine, December 2020). Kudos to the gifted Helen Bar-Lev for sharing her talents as a poet and artist, and to ESRA for this fine article.

Judith R. Robinson, Pittsburgh, PA. USA


Where to give your household items

Recently we had to empty the contents of an apartment of a deceased person, to prepare it for sale. I contacted Pat Zuckerman of ESRA who, very quickly arranged to collect many usable items and miraculously found needy persons, including a Lone Solider all of whom were delighted. Pat personally packed and schlepped three huge bags of clothes to give to ESRA's 2nd hand shop in Raanana. The result is that many people benefitted from the contents - furniture, kitchenware, refrigerator, stove, oven, washing machine and clothes, etc

Thank you Pat

Adrian Wolff, Ramat Hasharon


Praise to ESRA volunteers and the magazine editors

I wish to join those praising the new design of the wonderful ESRA Magazine. It is now so easy to find article on a specific topic, as well as joy to the eye with the new layout.

And apropo the ESRA Magazine, I sent gift subscriptions abroad to family during the Corona days. This proved to be a most successful and appreciated gift, (and ESRA deservedly benefits as well!).

I also wish to commend the volunteer team at ESRA. During these trying times, the volunteers continued their devoted work-- the calls were transferred to the volunteers in their homes, who always returned calls quickly and efficiently. Thank you to all the volunteers.

The article on David Sharir was enlightening and deserving. Thank you for sharing his wonderful creations (December issue, 2020). The obituary for Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz was beautifully written and gave so much insight.

Thank you for all.

Debbie Sinai, Moshav Herev Leet


Sense of family and a feeling of joy

The first impression that hits you when reading an ESRA Magazine is the sheer professionalism. However, what is even more all-enveloping is the real sense of family which each article reveals and draws you in. Especially the articles relating to the heroic endeavors of those who experienced the horrors of confronting the Nazis in WW2, leave us as always wondering what one would have done in similar circumstances.

Also, it is impossible to get enough wise instruction from the late great Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (ESRA Magazine, March 2021.) He was an inspiration and an extraordinary educator: we were privileged to have had him amongst us.

In this issue I was also drawn to the photo of a smiling Rica Goldin who recently passed away at age 98. From her detailed obituary, we clearly learnt that she experienced a varied and most interesting life well-lived, a person one would have appreciated meeting - her smile said it all.

And talking about smiles, that's just what the ESRA Magazine supplies - very much needed as we see light at the end of the tunnel of this horrendous Pandemic.

The Magazine in its own way is also a vaccine that injects and draws out all relevant emotions, but most of all a feeling of joy having been allowed to enter the world of others, through the magic of words.

Stephen Vishnick, Tel Aviv 

 

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