The ESRA scholarship evening is a high point on the ESRA calendar. It takes place in late fall. It represents successful matchmaking between our generous and caring contributors and the students in our Students Build a Community program. Besides receiving their accommodation scholarship, these 15 students chose to work another three hours a week in order to earn this additional scholarship. The scholarship work areas are varied – accompanying students to Michmoret for the Science and Sea workshops, working with a small group of at-risk kindergarteners, working with a girls ethnic dance group, serving as a translator for a citizens' rights program, assisting in work at the various community centers, and many more.
Our generous donors also come from all over the country and get to meet the recipient of their generosity. It is a festive evening indeed at the Heftzibah community center in Netanya. The refreshments also are wonderful.
It must be emphasized that that very night, some 400 mortars and rockets were sent to our southern areas and it was a disturbing and uncertain situation. Mike and Adele Rubin, who are active ESRA members from Sderot, came especially to the evening for the dedication of an updated computer room as well as for the scholarship evening. As I sat with them before the event, their phones were constantly ringing. They were getting calls from concerned friends and family. Since they were not at home in Sderot, they were safe. The "pings" from the "red alert application" on our phones kept pinging incessantly.
Baruch Tanaman, Chair of ESRA, delivered warm opening remarks. Other significant supporters were in the audience from ESRA, from the municipality, and the Community Center Organization and the community center.
Each student had written a few paragraphs about his/her background as well as plans for the future. Cynthia Yaakobi and I read each segment to the audience. Then the donor was asked to join the scholarship recipient on the stage; certificates were exchanged and received. Pictures were taken. It was uplifting and optimistic. Tarkin, one of our students, spoke in everyone's name to thank the audience.
This is really what ESRA is all about for me.
At the closing, special thank-yous were given to the coordinators of the project - Limor and Tamar.
The final remarks were made by Cynthia and myself with hopes to meet again next year.
We couldn't help but mention the strange surreal reality of the evening: Adele and Mike Rubin were with us and not able to get on a train to go home due to the rocket and mortar fire in the south. Trains to the south had been suspended. Such is Israel. But the show goes on.