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A Word From the Editor 194

I am passionate about Israel, and have been ever since it was declared a state. I was 10 years old. But even before then I was a young Zionist, enjoying every moment in Habonim (Shtilim) in my little home town of Bulawayo. My mother, Rachel Baron, was a passionate Zionist working tirelessly to raise moneys for Israel, and my father too, Ben, worked for Jewish and Zionist causes. When I was 17 years old I visited Israel, fell in love with it and longed to come and live here.

We did make aliyah in 1962, when Israel was 14 years and I was 25 -my husband Gert and our two young children, Mandy (2) and Sheli (six months).

I loved living in Israel, 'my country', believed in Israel, and was (and am) happy here. I wanted other English speakers, who had settled here, to stay in Israel rather than return to their home countries because I believed in them too and that they could enrich the life ofour adopted homeland. So,on April 5th 1979, I founded ESRA, albeit unplanned. My aim was to help English speakers to be happy here by becoming active and vibrant in their community through social, cultural, educational and volunteer activities in English. They would be getting, doing and giving back to their community.

I am still passionate about our country. But sad. I crave for peace with our neighbors, for humane behavior by our leaders and true democracy, for equal rights for all our citizens, and compassion for those refugees who have fled from Africa to Israel to find a safe haven.

We too in ESRA and in our magazine celebrate and applaud Israel at 70. Our cover shows Theodor Herzl looking over the remarkable development in a brief 70 years, of the country he dreamed of and worked to establish. Thirty five pages in this issue feature stories and letters from our writers in honor of Israel's 70th birthday –70 Facts of Israel's feats; paintings that depict typical Israel sights; Weizmann influencing British leaders to create a home for the Jews; a vivid memory of a then seven-year old child of the day the Jewish world held its breath whilst the UN counted the votes for/against/abstaining/ of establishing a Jewish state; memories of personal experiences such as a henna ceremony in Rosh Haayin in 1966;poignant brief accounts of why people came on aliyah, of why they stay in Israel;historical accounts of some of our battles and memorials to those who fought and died for Israel; of the never-ending terrible pain of losing a son in war; of the Templers who settled here and became Nazi supporters but whose buildings we now use;a 70th Independence Day cake; some humor too; actions we can take to improve our country; and a wall painting of two beloved cartoon characters –Srulik, a Jew, and Handela, a Palestinian, arm in arm looking together towards the future.

Also featured are stories of the successful launch in London of UK Friends of ESRA – our very first exciting venture outside Israel and a step forward in promoting ESRA's community work abroad; our pre-school program for young kids from Ethiopia, and a spring outing for school kids; a first – a barn dance in Netanya; excellent ESRA trips, hikes and lectures organized by different branches throughout the country. It is worth studying our Future and Regular Events pages to choose your next ESRA event to enjoy or group to join, be it books, knitting, scrabble, mahjongg. And please join us at our Annual General Meeting, to be held in Rishon for the first time ever, and at our bi-annual Volunteer Awards ceremony in Raanana.

A must-read is the article on the Enduring Power of Attorney embodied in a new law which allows you to plan your future in the way you want. Also noteworthy is the article on Herzliya's Interdisciplinary Center which is to become the first private university bestowing a PhD degree.

It is amazing how people find long lost relatives and friends via Facebook – we feature a personal family find in these pages. But not only in FB – through our ESRA Magazine website too – – people are finding friends, relatives, employers, mates from the past.

If you are planning to travel abroad and looking for Jewish sites, read our stories on India and Saloniki. There is also a visit to Muslim Azerbaijan. All the reviews in this issue are of books authored by our readers. Improve your bridge on trumps in defense with Alan, get some good advice from Naomi in ConsumerWatch, and for a hearty laugh see Jennia's Humor.

Thank you all for living in Israel, for helping build it up, for being part of ESRA.

Merle Guttmann 



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Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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