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ESRA Tiberias / Jordan Valley Celebrates a Decade

Members of ESRA Tiberias / Jordan Valley branch celebrating 10 years of friendship - left to right: Ruchama, Richard, Pat, Peta, Andrea, Carol, Zoe, Yehuda

Ten years ago Carol Eisenberg and I, two neighbors on Kibbutz Degania Bet, heard about an organization called ESRA. It seemed very interesting but there was no local contact. So we decided that the obvious thing to do was to start a local branch.

We designed posters, advertised on Yahoo electronic notice boards and told as many people as we could about the idea. We invited people to a meeting to see if there was any interest in starting a local ESRA branch. The meeting was successful, a committee was formed and Ruchama Hillel volunteered to maintain the mailing list and to circulate notices. Considering where the attendees came from it was agreed to name the branch ESRA Tiberias / Jordan Valley.

The main aim was to provide social contact for English speakers. With people coming from a huge geographical area this was going to be challenging, but undaunted, the group was established and arranged a games evening as the first event. Since then events have been held monthly, either meetings with a speaker, social gatherings, quizzes, or trips out.

When Esther Elevitsky joined the group, monthly meetings were not frequent enough for such a sociable person, so she quickly established the weekly Wednesday Lunch Club.

Identifying a common bond for some members, Ruchama started the Knitting Club which meets monthly, producing greatly appreciated garments and blankets for local maternity units. They also teach people how to knit.

Although we were established to create social contact for English speakers in our area, we have also been active in ESRA projects.

Joanna became our coordinator for the English Tutoring and Chat Away programs, helping students learn English and improve their chances of higher education and employment opportunities.

Donations from the Lunch Club and modest charges for events have enabled us to contribute to ESRA community projects. Carol has become a legend for her ability to sell second hand goods to raise funds for ESRA. We are delighted that for many years we have been able to support the ESRA Students Build a Community Project, and when we learnt about the ESRA Welfare Fund and the pressure it was under at the start of the pandemic, we quickly organized a well-attended Zoom meeting with proceeds going directly to the Welfare Fund.

We are very pleased to have created our own project. We support the Gan Tzlil in Tiberias which is geared to the special needs of children with autism. Our project provides weekly animal therapy sessions.

Our greatest achievement has been in creating a group of people who feel like a family. We come from a huge geographical area and from wide religious backgrounds. Religious, secular, Jewish, non-Jewish, everything in between. But our diversity has been our strength, with many people enjoying friendship with people they would not otherwise have met. And thanks to our WhatsApp group, members were able to keep in regular contact throughout the pandemic with the Lunch Club meeting via Zoom.

Ten years is a good time to look back and reflect on what we have achieved, but it is also important to think of the future and how we can improve. We welcome comments and suggestions for events. We would be very interested to hear of suggestions for venues which are preferably without payment, on public transport routes and with nearby parking available.

Please take some time to look at the ESRA website to discover the amazing projects and the contribution ESRA makes to Israeli society - www.esra.org.il and if you haven't yet become a member of ESRA, please join. Membership fees are NIS140 for a year or NIS240 for two years. Members also get reduced fees for events and copies of the ESRA Magazine.

Peta Singer and Carol Eisenberg agreeing that they had a good idea 10 years ago

 English Tutoring program or the Chat Away scheme

If you want to know how you can be involved in the English Tutoring program or the Chat Away scheme, which pairs volunteers with students for weekly chats via phone or Zoom, contact Joanna by phone or WhatsApp 050 584 2517.

For details of the Lunch Club

Contact Esther by phone or WhatsApp 054 226 4742.

For details of the Knitting Club

contact Ruchama by phone or WhatsApp 052 488 3764.

To donate good quality items (not books or clothes)

Contact Carol by phone or WhatsApp 054 255 7229.

For comments and suggestions

Contact Peta by phone or WhatsApp 054 255 7286 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you everyone for your support and friendship. We wish you good health to enjoy the next ten years with us. 

 

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Sunday, 16 June 2024

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