As we go to print we are looking forward to celebrate the Festival of Pesach followed shortly afterwards by Yom H'Atzmaut. The two are closely intertwined with both bringing us, the Jewish People, freedom. Pesach marks the moment when we escaped from being slaves to the Egyptians and on Yom Ha'Atzmaut we commemorate that historic time when we became an independent state in charge of our own destiny – no longer beholden to others.
These thoughts registered deeply when I came face to face with a video showing a recent demonstration in the streets of Paris. Some say there were 120,000 demonstrators; others say "only" 17,000. Whilst originally "billed" as a demonstration against France's President Hollander protesting the economic situation it quickly turned into a major anti-Semitic vitriolic and violent affair. To witness, in this day and age, demonstrators screaming "Jews get out – France is not for you" is a most frightening and disturbing experience. Perhaps it resonates, particularly with me, because I am married to one who was fortunate enough to escape Germany and the Nazis within weeks of the Second World War. He has vivid recollections of a similar situation in his own home town of Bamberg. Could it really be, I asked myself, that this was happening all over again in our "civilized" world in a "civilized" European country? At first I thought it was a kind of horrible hoax because when I mentioned it to friends they simply had no idea of what I was talking about. I checked it out – there was no mistake – this actually happened with some 250 of the demonstrators being arrested. These demonstrators no longer felt the need to disguise their anti-Semitic feelings under the guise of anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism – no it was quite in order to shout "Jews get out"!
Why are we "The lucky ones? Simple – we are the generation blessed to have witnessed the re-birth of the State of Israel in our time and we are the ones whose good fortune it is to live in this one Jewish State. We have the freedom to live and to give – which is exactly what ESRA is all about. Just taking a look at this great Magazine tells us how lucky we are to belong to an organization such as ours – the programs arranged nationwide are terrific - our daily lives are enhanced because of ESRA. We not only receive we give too – and how better to explain this than by taking a look at the wonderful projects we support. The raison d'etre of these projects is bringing a better tomorrow for the youngsters whose future is ensured because of ESRA and its superb volunteers.