Looking back with pride and ahead with optimism
Following the AGM in June, I am now the new kid on the block and proud to be serving as your Chairman of this wonderful organization.
Much has been said about our 40th celebrations, and the simple fact of our operating for 40 years is quite remarkable in itself. Although for me ESRA is about the future, I feel I first need to address the past.
Present at the AGM were five former chairpersons. This is a huge testament to the strength of the organization and the commitment of its members and volunteers to building ESRA into the powerhouse that it is today.
I want to single out my two immediate predecessors, with whom I had the privilege of working closely as Vice-Chair. Brenda Katten brought a wealth of previous experience with her to ESRA. During her tenure we benefitted from her guidance enabling us to become more sophisticated in our outlook, and laying the foundation for what followed – which was Baruch.
Baruch Tanaman led the organization with an admirable strength of character and leadership - an example extremely difficult to follow. It truly has been an honour for me to work alongside him and to be able to learn so much from him.
If Brenda transformed ESRA, then Baruch continued and greatly expanded that process, implementing so many important changes and refinements. The ESRA of today is unrecognizable from the organization I started volunteering with five years ago. So many of the dreams and ideas that we had then are now in place and this can correctly be attributed to Baruch's dedication during his period in office.
It has been such a huge and enjoyable pleasure to work alongside Baruch, Glenis Bertfield and the rest of the members of the Executive Committee – past and present.
I am delighted to be looking forward to continued work with Baruch as a colleague, quoting back to him from his last ESRAMagazine Chairman's Message – 'Farewell but not Goodbye'.
It would be remiss not to mention one more person in the context of the huge changes that have taken place in ESRA. The arrival of Sunny Marshansky, our CEO, has been the catalyst that enabled the evolution, or should I say revolution, in ESRA. It is impossible to list how much has been achieved by her drive and determination in less than three years.
As for the future… my hope and desire is to continue the development and growth of ESRA. We have an exciting and ambitious new Executive Committee and I am looking forward to working alongside them in the management style that has proven so successful.
Much has been done, but there is still a massive amount to do. The slogan of our current Fundraising Campaign is 'because of you' and it couldn't be more true or applicable to both the old and the new.
ESRA exists because of you, readers of the ESRAMagazine, members, volunteers, and supporters. ESRA has become what it is because of you and it does what it does for you, and because of you. ESRA needs you to carry on doing what you do, to participate in ESRA's future, and to continue your involvement in the wide range of areas where you volunteer.
Thank you for the past…. Now let's create the future together.
Before signing off, I must mention two wonderful volunteers who have been volunteering with ESRA for a combined total of over 60 years.
Frankie Cronin, together with husband Michael, was at the very first meeting of the ESRA committee in1979. Since then she has given selflessly of her time in varied volunteering activities which included, perhaps most famously, management of ESRA's website for more than ten years. She was instrumental in helping computerize ESRA's database, was a member of the ESRAMagazine editorial board, and more recently, heavily involved both in the development and operation of the new website and the weekly mailings of upcoming activities.
Val Kantor became an active ESRA member in 1996, taking on coordination of the Befrienders project, and joining the ESRA Executive. In 2009/10 Val was recognized by Raanana Municipality for her outstanding volunteering, and on numerous occasions received awards of appreciation from ESRA for her initiative and devotion to its projects, volunteering and membership. Always there whenever called upon to help, Val is a volunteer in the true sense of the word.
Both Frankie and Val are now taking a step back in their volunteering activities with ESRA. We owe them both a huge debt of gratitude for all they have done and wish them the very best for the future. They have been perfect examples of ESRA's fundamental principle - volunteering.
The next time we meet will be after the Chagim, so I take this opportunity to wish you all well and an enjoyable holiday period.