ESRA Magazine
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Taking stock

Underpriviledged teenagers in ESRA's Project of Excellence at Ruppin Institute plant a community garden for the future

These past weeks have been painful for the vast majority of Israeli citizens. It is not easy to absorb a reality that we have amongst us extremists whose raison d'etre is an antipathy and an affront to all that we as Israelis and Jews stand for.

There can be no place for those who resort to the murder of the "other" or those who state they wish to destroy churches and mosques.

Our government has declared war on both and we can but hope that those responsible for the burning of a Palestinian family's home in Duma – with the tragic consequence of death ­– will be brought swiftly to justice.

Rosh Hashanah is a time to take stock and as we wish each other Shana Tova we will be praying for the collective health and happiness of our beloved State of Israel as well as the health and happiness of our respective families.

As we leaf through the pages of this superb Magazine ESRA has every reason to feel proud of the contribution its volunteers and supporters make to the wellbeing of this one Jewish state.

Our Students Build a Community project is about to open its doors to the community of Neot Shaked.

This will be the fourth area in which this amazingly successful project will operate – please read all about "A night to remember" when all three existing projects came together for their end of year ceremony.

Whilst this past year has seen Israeli Ethiopians demonstrating against a discrimination felt by many ­– we in ESRA take heart in the success of our varied projects centered on this warm, gentle and sensitive community.

Whether it be the Bat Mitzvah celebrations we organize, whether the "Gifted Children's Project" in Michmoret, whether our Bayit Cham centers in Herzliya and Netanya where girls at risk find a warm home in which to build a new life, whether the Sewing and Computer classes for Adults or our flagship project Students Build a Community where currently 80 per cent of the students mentoring the kids on the block are from an Ethiopian background.

It has been heartening this past year to witness the growth of our organization – in recent months we have welcomed into the ESRA family – ESRA Yokneam and ESRA Petach Tikva.

These new branches will bring new life to their communities (our fame goes before us when it comes to planning exciting social and cultural programs). Our ETP (English Tutoring Program) will expand and we also hope that as these latest branches begin to flower they will also want to volunteer, develop and support ESRA's national projects.

To this end we are endeavoring to create opportunities making connections between our branches and projects more accessible.

ESRA is an organization that is run fundamentally by volunteers and we are always on the look-out for new members and new volunteers.

Whilst we have a small but totally dedicated staff headed by Executive Director Yonit Gurfinkel, we take pride in our achievements specifically because they are volunteer run.

We are delighted that Juliet Rostowsky – involved for a number of years with ESRA as a trainer and supervisor for our Counsellors and Befrienders – has agreed to head our newly-formed Volunteer Committee.

Aside from continuing to give support to our volunteers, the committee will endeavor to seek out imminent retirees. ESRA is growing and so must our volunteer bank too!

Yes ESRA is playing a vital role in the Israel we would wish to project to the outside world. We are creating a better tomorrow for all those youngsters benefitting from our manifold programs.

At the same time we ourselves are enjoying a more meaningful and purposeful life by contributing towards the better tomorrow we would want for our Israel.

A final thought – we have amongst the readership of this Magazine many who are not yet members of ESRA – your identification is as important to us as it is to the children whose lives we hope to improve.

Shana Tova to you and your dear families.

– Brenda 



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Saturday, 02 March 2024

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