"Pride is not the worst of sins. In fact, it's one of the most interesting ones." Gene Wilder
THROUGHOUT history, people have marveled over the resilience of the Jewish people, their continued seemingly stubborn survival through thousands of years of history during which they faced persecution, torture, conquest, attempts at annihilation… and yet, here we are.
"The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" Mark Twain
So what indeed, is our secret? Forgive my attempt to answer the question. I think it starts with the core Jewish values enshrined in such expressions as "save one life and you save the world", and "tikun olam – repairing the world".
No matter what befalls us, we cherish life and work toward its improvement. That can only come of a heart filled with love and kindness and respect. These are things that are indestructible.
A people filled with hate and motivated by revenge do nothing for the betterment of their lives. Love of life and respect for the planet in your heart – these I think, are the secrets of Jewish survival. Perhaps The Beatles were on to something… (Love is all you need…)
Improving life, creating a better world – these are also core values of ESRA, and that's why we are part of the answer.
Being proud is oft thought of as being a bad thing, but I am not afraid to say that today I am proud. Yes, proud of my family and proud of my country. But I am feeling particularly proud of ESRA and my friends in the ESRA family.
I am proud of the activities we offer our members, the opportunities that we offer our volunteers and the nearly 40 education and welfare projects that help those in need of assistance.
I have recently attended the year-end events for several of our projects and I am particularly proud of the students and children who we have helped on their way to a better education and future.
Most of us know what it is to kvell over our children and grandchildren. ESRA lets you expand your kvelling! At the endof- year events for ESRA's flagship SBC (Students Build a Community) projects, I was kvelling over our accomplished young people, and I came home with pride in my heart that we were able to play a small part in enabling the students to complete their degrees, while improving the chances of the children they tutored to take their place in colleges and universities in the years to come and thus making ESRA's contribution to Israel's future.
"Of what shall a man be proud, if he is not proud of his friends?" Robert Louis Stevenson
Having taken upon myself to make personal phone calls to deliver round-number birthday wishes to volunteers over 70, I have enjoyed speaking to no small number of new octogenarians. As they say, 70 is the new 40, so may we all be endowed with a long, healthy and productive life!
Against that background, ESRA's soon reaching 40 may not sound so impressive. However, for a nonprofit organization to reach four decades, and still be going from strength to strength, is an excellent achievement, and one to celebrate. And so we shall, as ESRA reaches its 40-year anniversary in 2019.
We have an excellent committee working on design and events, so you can already put 14 May 2019 in your diaries when we will be holding the main event of our anniversary year. So, join me in feeling pride in ESRA and all that we do!
Hoping everyone managed to stay reasonably cool throughout the summer, and wishing everyone a new year of peace, health, and accomplishments. May the rains that come erase the devastation in the south of our country and bring new life to the land.