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What it is to have friends such as these!

ESRA Chairperson Brenda Katten (left) with hosts Beverly and David Saffrin (and in the center) former Ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, and his wife, Janice

ESRA prides itself on the wonderful projects it supports – a concept started many long years ago by our Founder and Honorary Life President Merle Guttmann. Our projects are geared to help in the successful integration of new immigrants - so it has been over the years. ESRA was there at the outset to contribute towards the successful absorption of those who came from the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s and 90s. What a wonderful aliyah this has proven to be – one that has given and continues to give so much to Medinat Yisrael. Today ESRA remains deeply involved with the challenges of helping Ethiopian immigrants, both new and old, successfully settle into a life that is so very different from the life they left in Ethiopia.

Our organization prides itself on being a volunteer-based movement, with 800 volunteers working in the field. This is a fact that should be emphasized to all our friends and contacts – namely that if they give a donation to ESRA they will have the satisfaction of knowing that only a tiny part is taken for administrative purposes. ESRA's projects deserve and need much more urgent funding. Perhaps the following story shows that all is possible when a few friends get together and do what many thought was "the impossible".

During the summer, friends of ours came here to spend a few weeks in their beautiful holiday home in Herzliya Pituach. Beverly and David Saffrin listened as I told them of the challenges ESRA faces in the support of our very necessary projects geared to help those who need to receive help the most. I then asked them whether they would consider giving their home for an autumn fundraising dinner in aid of our Right Track Centers and Students Build a Neighborhood projects. They immediately said yes. Next on the agenda was to find a speaker. Fortunately another friend is Janice Gillerman - wife of Dan Gillerman, Israel's former Ambassador to the UN - whom I asked if she would be able to persuade her husband to be our guest of honor. In order to make the whole exercise attractive and worthwhile to both the hosts and the speaker it had to be an event that would result in a sizeable sum being raised. The bottom line was that the ambassador agreed to be the speaker knowing that ESRA would be the beneficiary. The evening became a private dinner where the majority of the 68 guests were friends who knew each other and were prepared to give a donation of NIS 1000 per head. 

In addition sponsors were found to cover all the expenses. The host and hostess succeeded in creating a fantastic atmosphere.

As the chair of ESRA I commenced the proceedings by speaking about ESRA. I described how it started (with its founder Merle Guttmann being present) and gave details of the number of human success stories resulting from The Right Tracks Program and the Students Build a Neighborhood projects. The highlight was the superb speech of Ambassador Gillerman, who addressed the major challenges confronting the Middle East today and how they impact on Israel.

What of the end result? 

Almost NIS 70,000 was raised by these generous - mainly new - friends of ESRA. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go to David and Beverly Saffrin and Ambassador and Mrs. Gillerman. How fortunate is ESRA to have friends such as these!  



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Saturday, 02 March 2024

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