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Chairman's Message - 216

ESRA Membership Means Belonging! 

"Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much." Helen Keller, author

A sense of belonging goes far beyond simply being acquainted with others. Belonging means feeling accepted, receiving attention and support from others in your group, and providing them with the same.

An important part of ESRA membership is the feeling of belonging that comes with it. Often, a feeling of belonging to a group grows out of the sharing of common goals and outlooks, interests or needs. As a member of ESRA, we share all of that - mutual support, common interests, and the goal of improving life in Israel. Beyond that, we feel part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.

Take a brief look at just some of the work that ESRA is doing in the community….

Over 1,000 ESRA volunteers are leading the magnificent English Tutoring Program (ETP), which has grown beyond our wildest dreams. Today ESRA's tutors are operating throughout the country in many different schools – some face-to-face and some on Zoom or WhatsApp. We are extremely proud of those volunteers who promote the idea of sharing our gift of speaking English for the benefit of children and teachers, thereby 'giving back' to the country we love.

ESRA also offers volunteer support for our own English-speaking community. Our Welfare Fund provides financial aid for people in crisis. ESRA Counselors train volunteers to assist those who have suffered either personal bereavement or other loss, and Befrienders connect with those who are lonely or housebound, offering warm and practical support. And of course, not forgetting ESRA's support for our English-speaking community in Israel by offering a huge variety of social and cultural events. We have Camera clubs for enthusiasts, Mahjong groups, Knitting/Crocheting circles, Book clubs and Scrabble groups. ESRA's series of lectures are well attended in their many different venues with our long-running and unique TAMA (Tel Aviv Art Museum) lectures are sold out every year. Add to this the ever popular and expanding number of hikes and trips, and you see that ESRA is working hard to provide for its members.

All these events and activities also help contribute toward raising funds to support ESRA's successful education and welfare projects, both national and local.

No discussion of ESRA projects would be complete without mentioning our flagship project, Students Build a Community (SBC) of which we are all exceedingly proud. For the past 16 years ESRA has provided young children from disadvantaged communities across Israel with much-needed hope and confidence through transformative mentoring relationships led by exceptional young students. In 2023, 60 financially stressed university students are receiving free housing during their studies in addition to a living stipend. In exchange, they become integrated within the social fabric of the local neighborhood, providing homework assistance to 240 local schoolchildren, socially empowering them, and helping ignite the best possible futures for the youth they work with.

Without the support and dedication of our members, friends and partners, we would never be able to provide as we do for the students and for the children, and for this we are sincerely grateful.

Funding our projects has become much more sophisticated, and we are proud of the contributions made by our "Picki by ESRA" secondhand and vintage shops in Raanana and Kfar Saba, and the secondhand English book shops in Raanana, Modiin and Zichron Ya'akov. Add to that direct fundraising through our wonderful donors and loyal supporters, plus institutional support and grants from foundations both at home and overseas, and the picture becomes clearer.

Your annual membership fee is a crucial additional element and an important source of funding for all our operations. There are additional Member Benefits such as up to 30% discount for all ESRA events, invitations to special members-only events, quarterly delivery of ESRA Magazine direct to your door, and ESRA's annual printed calendar. New olim receive free membership for the first year.

Perhaps less tangible but arguably more important, is the sense of community belonging that comes with ESRA membership. We share the feeling that members matter to each other and to the group, and like a close family, this provides a strong sense of belonging. The growth of ESRA's membership is important in building a socially engaged community and just by being a member, you are already making a difference and aiding others. So we invite you to join us! Be a part of the difference we make to each other and to Israeli society.

Advance notice to ESRA members, our 44th Annual General Meeting will take place on 29th June at TEO Center, 168 Wingate Street, Herzliya Pituach and on Zoom. More details will be available nearer the time. Save the date!

Finally, may I wish all readers, volunteers and supporters of ESRA, together with our wonderful donors, a Chag Pesach Sameach.

 

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Monday, 22 July 2024

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