Committee members gathered at the office of Ashkelon Mayor, Benny Vaknin, to celebrate the launch of Welcome to Ashkelon
One of Ashkelon’s Innovative Projects
In line with every other ESRA branch, The English Speakers of Ashkelon Committee seeks to create fun events and learning activities for the benefit of our members. A series of lectures are run throughout the year and our newest project is the popular Drama Workshops run by ESRA-ESOA member Jane Davidson, actress and singer, who has appeared in numerous productions of The Light Opera Group of the Negev. This year we increased our number of outings and profits from these and every other event we hold are donated to Chai Ashkelon, a local project that provides hot meals each day to 1,400 Ashkelon children.
Alongside our ongoing program, we have also introduced something new to our lexicon of activities. In response to a growing Anglo presence in the city, and based on an idea by committee member Margo Donovan, we researched and wrote a 28-page Welcome to Ashkelon brochure. Our brochure was produced with the blessing and financial backing of Mayor Benny Vaknin, and will be included in all of Ashkelon’s promotional English-speaking material. As for ESRA-ESOA, we now have a comprehensive ‘where to go’ guide for the many new and prospective residents who approach us every week for information about the city. Where to go, for example, to get your driving license, find out about schools, rent disabled equipment or simply register for gas, electricity and health services.
Another project that has been running for the past year was undertaken by this writer who felt it was important to try to bridge the sometimes considerable gap that exists between long-time residents of our adopted home and our own ex-pat community. To that end, I have interviewed and transcribed the life stories of people as diverse as the Chief of Police, an Ethiopian dress designer, a Holocaust survivor, a world-renowned mosaic artist who settled in Ashkelon in 1949, and many more. Published each month in our online newsletter, these stories, entitled People in Ashkelon, allow us a glimpse into the extremely diverse lives of those who have helped to build and protect this city since the end of the War of Independence.
We may indeed be living away from the center in a sometimes dangerous periphery town, but ESRA-ESOA nevertheless strives, not only to foster a real sense of community amongst our members, but also to join together with those who share this special corner of Israel with us.