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Chairman’s Message

Every once in a while you should remind yourself...

"You deserve a big pat on the back!"

I recently followed the story of an aspiring new oleh. Disgusted by the anti-Semitism they were encountering in their country of origin, she and her husband decided to take the leap and move to Israel. Contacts were made for employment, belongings stored, sold, rented and shipped, and the deed was done.

However, no sooner did they arrive than there was a flood of tales of woe. Employment turned out to be not as expected. Bills in Hebrew were undecipherable. They missed their fireplace. Bus service was inconvenient. Offices offered endless bureaucracy, and so on. The sad result with these new olim, is that after barely half a year in the country, they are giving up and going back – back to the easy comfort of the familiar, of their childhood home. But who am I to criticize others?

One irate new arrival posted on Facebook: "I can understand now why people leave Israel when the customer service is sometimes utter **** …." He had been wrongly directed by a bus driver. As if all is perfect elsewhere! Some may turn it into humor, as in the one about the 2-story house you get from the Jewish Agency: one story before you arrive, and another story once you get to Israel.

It takes a resilient mind set and a strong commitment (and possibly a well-developed sense of humor) to be able to cope with it all and maintain one's vision beyond the day-to-day difficulties.

But that started me thinking… we've all been through the same experience. We've all faced those very same difficulties. It is not an easy thing to move to a different country, where they speak a different language. Everything is unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar is often intensely uncomfortable. Bureaucracy seems far worse than anywhere elsewhen you don't know the ropes and you barely speak the language. Earning a living may be a huge challenge. In fact, everything may be a huge challenge.

We've all been there, and we're still here. We've survived the challenge. In fact, we've survived and flourished. And so, I want to make this article a tribute to those people who have left the familiar and come to live in Israel, and stuck it out through the difficulties. Your belief in your success, and in the correctness of your decision, sustained you and kept you here. That's why you all deserve a big pat on the back!

And ESRA is very much a part of what we can be proud of, in meeting the challenge. ESRA has been there for new immigrants since 1979, helping them over the hurdles. Offering friendship and aid.And ESRA members and volunteers have not only survived in their new land but they have contributed to it, helping their fellow immigrants and Israel's needy. And ESRA continues to do so through its activities and its many Education and Welfare projects.

We're still here because we believe in our ability to meet any challenge, our ability to help others in need, and our belief in making a success of our lives here in our Jewish homeland.

It is therefore with deep admiration and pride, that I offer my congratulations to all olim and to ESRA – firstly, just for being here, and then for being here for Israeli society.

In 2019, ESRA will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary.We look forward to many more years of helping each other, and reaching out to help those less fortunate. To keep doing that and to expand our activities, we need a large cadre of hands-on members. We invite you to take part in the running of ESRA, be it on a branch committee or at the national level. Introduce friends and family to ESRA and encourage them to become members, volunteers and donors. After all, you are the people with strong commitment and staying power. You are the modern-day pioneers who are building their chosen country. As I said – a big pat on the back!


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Saturday, 03 June 2023

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