A proud and shining gem in Israel's English-speaking community, ESRA is multi-faceted and, like any jewel, it has its imperfections or flaws. But each so-called "flaw" is perceived differently – what one person finds unacceptable, another may applaud and appreciate. Even though we are an apolitical organization with no religious affiliation, politics and religion seem to raise more than their fair share of questions in ESRA, as elsewhere. Our members reflect the whole range of political and religious viewpoints and we endeavor to be inclusive and avoid offending anyone. It seems that this is an almost impossible task, but we do listen and attempt to redress any perceived offence. A case in point, was a recent article in our magazine on brunches which provided "ten places to enjoy brunch"; however, only one of the restaurants was kosher. The articles in ESRA's Magazine are written by various contributors and the Editorial Board, under Merle Guttmann, do a tremendous job of ensuring that they are of suitable quality and content for the magazine. Merle will comment elsewhere in this edition on the article in question and hopefully will provide a balance with an article on kosher eateries.
To quote America's latest Nobel laureate for literature, "the times they are a-changin'". We are extremely sorry to inform you that Yonit Gurfinkel will be leaving ESRA for personal reasons in early 2017. Yonit has been with ESRA for seven years, during which time she has performed her duties with total dedication and has greatly improved ESRA's administration and operations. Yonit will be a big loss to ESRA and whoever takes over from her will have a hard act to follow. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Yonit for her tireless efforts on behalf of ESRA and to wish her every success and happiness in all her future endeavors, both personal and professional. We are currently interviewing candidates for a new General Manager. If you have any suggested applicants, please have them contact Anat at the ESRA office for details.
The members of ESRA's Executive Committee do their best to ensure that the organization goes from strength to strength. But our successes are only made possible by the involvement and efforts of our volunteers, our members and our donors. So, to support our continued success and positive impact on Israeli society, find out how you can enjoy being more active in the ESRA family. Your local branch would welcome members prepared to become involved. Volunteer to tutor English, be a Befriender, or be a part of one of our wonderful projects. Volunteers are always needed to assist in our shops, help deliver magazines or serve on any of our committees where you can share your ideas and help make a difference.
The Chair of ESRA may only serve for a maximum of four consecutive years. The great thing is that our ex-chairs stay in the ESRA family. For example, Adele Hunter is our Chair of Welfare and active in Fund Raising, and Nina Zuck is Chair of ESRA Projects. This means that ESRA continues to benefit from their wealth of experience and their dedication. Back in June, Brenda Katten completed 4 intensive and successful years at the helm of ESRA, three years as Chairperson and the last year as Co-Chairperson. She has been unstinting in her efforts to ensure that ESRA remains a strong organization with new branches, increased funds for our projects and an increasing force of volunteers. We are extremely pleased that Brenda is now our PR Chair where her talent with words, whether written or spoken, is benefitting us greatly both with publicity and fund raising.
Shortly before the magazine goes to print, we will have had our Volunteer Awards Ceremony during which selected ESRA volunteers receive deserved recognition for their outstanding work and dedication. We are very proud of all our volunteers and every two years we collect recommendations for volunteer awards. See the next edition of the magazine for details of the event.
Two events are coming up that you won't want to miss! The Annual ESRA Quiz Night will be held on December 27, hosted by members around the country. Find out who's hosting in your area and book your place! The second major event is our fundraising concert. On January 3, 2017 ESRA will present world renowned singer/performer Achinoam Nini in Concert. Her performances are always a joy – book early to avoid disappointment. We urge you not to miss these two events, firstly because they are so enjoyable, and secondly because they help fund the continued operation of our projects.
As we will soon be celebrating the Festival of Lights, I wish you all a Happy Chanukah and a rewarding year of ESRA activity.