I was sitting in the garden this sunny morning when I received your copy of ESRA Magazine #154 with its stunning cover apart from the contents.
What a difference from the first copy of the ESRA newsletter and what a long way you have come with this beautiful glossy magazine.
I am going through a difficult period physically, especially this morning and was immensely cheered by some of the articles. I compliment Synonymus's "The idiot’s guide to heart disease" written with such humor about a difficult subject.
I laughed at Judy and Gloria's rhymes and conversation between "Mitsi "and "Bertie", more compliments.
The three winning stories indeed 'take one’s breath away' especially such a moving tale as "The Strawberry Woman ". Reading Denis Shifrin's letter “With Compliments”, I wonder at his modesty about his own contribution of hilarious and clever illustrations in the magazine. I think they are terrific.
"Harnessing the earthworm" is an interesting article, and so is "Voices from the rain forest". When I was in Victoria/Australia in 1992 I saw Kookaburras and many other beautiful birds in my friend’s garden in a wood. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear all the bird sounds. The Kookaburras fascinated me and one allowed me to approach it quite close to where it was perched. I have made a painting of one and of some of the colorful parrots from photographs I took.
I am, hopefully, approaching my 90th birthday (can't believe it!) and this summer we are having a number of celebrations, a belated barmitzvah party for one of my grandsons and an exhibition of my daughter's paintings in Herzliya Pituah.
We found out that our Kupat Holim family doctor (Dr. Shabtai) had done some volunteering in Uganda. He gave a very interesting lecture about it in Nof Yam. He said the conditions there were horrific and that most of the volunteers were Israelis. How little credit Israel gets for all the good she does in the world.
I am amazed at people of 90 or more being so active as in ' Journey of a lifetime' . There are others also, and Peres is amazingly active, (though younger) and he always looks so dapper.
I am nearly housebound, but still "with it ": I enjoy a weekly game of Scrabble, I read a lot and do cryptic crosswords. I paint whenever I have some inspiration such as spring flowers at present.
I have enjoyed this issue of ESRA magazine and thank you very much for all your endeavors.
Nof Yam, Herzliya
A Grandmother’s Plea
We all have so many different positions in life beginning as a child, a sibling, cousin, friend, spouse, parent and with luck grandparent. Each role has its pain and beauty but the role of grandparent is like no other. We are given joy and pleasure all the time without needing to worry about discipline or telling them what to do, just loving and enjoying but with that also goes a kind of love like no other. When your grandchild is hurt or suffering, the pain goes right through your soul and there is a kind of animal instinct which makes you want to save that child in any way possible. Some of us are fortunate and go through life on a kind of wave and yet others are dealt some deep challenging hardships. I am speaking about myself ... a grandmother of five grandchildren ... a woman who owned her own school successfully in Israel for 15 years ... two children who did high army services proudly...myself working with families under the poverty line, with terminally ill children, donating and helping a shelter for neglected and abused children. I am blessed with good friends and a lot of kindness from people I had never even met, yet, as a grandmother, I have no legal rights nor could I have saved my two grandchildren from the cruelty of others.
I have a daughter who became ill and her two children were sent to live in a foster home. With all my credibility I discovered that I no longer had any rights as a grandmother. I was able to send gifts and was given one day a week to call, but that was the extent of being a grandmother for the grandchildren who needed family so desperately. I sought legal advice asking about having the children live with me ... impossible … living with my older daughter? No, as she did not have a husband, so they were sent to live with total strangers. I have no doubt that there are many kind foster families who really care for these children, but my grandchildren were not so fortunate. We were told by the social services that the family had a "good name" but slowly we discovered that the children were very sad and not treated very well. Foster children are children at risk. Research has proven that these children who come from dysfunctional and broken homes desperately need care and love...all children do, but in fact foster children often end up with a lot of anger and often get into criminal trouble as they get older. Without giving examples of how I found out they were neglected and treated unkindly, I approached the social services begging them to check up on the children. They finally consented and a warning was given to the family. I am not sure how much this warning helped because when the children were finally returned to their mother they had many trust issues and much fear and anger. My grandson who was aged 6 at the time got into bad trouble at school and through the gentleness of the principal it came out how badly he had been treated. Today he is getting help in many areas and G-d willing over time he will become a healthy, happy little boy.
The reason that I am sharing my story is in the hope of saving another child. There have been many stories of abuse in dysfunctional families and in 2009 it was proposed that perhaps these children should rather live with relatives and grandparents instead of going to strangers. They are my blood children...why was I pushed aside when I was so capable of helping them? My money was always accepted as were my generous gifts on a regular basis but why were my love and my heart unacceptable? I know for a fact that there are many families in this situation in Israel and perhaps one person will read my story and be able to make a change and save a little life.
In the end there was no place to turn ... nobody to help. Good friends offered prayers and one gentleman in particular really tried to help but most could not understand the pain with which I was living. I pray I will see the day that changes will be made so that families can stay together when trauma breaks them up.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Hadar-Israel of interest to English speakers
Firstly, a million and more thanks from my husband and myself for this wonderful, fantastic magazine. Well done to all who are involved in producing such a professional and interesting magazine which we've had the privilege of receiving for many years now, as faithful members.
I would also like to inform fellow readers about another organization we have become involved in as they are doing such fine work for us English speakers. Hadar - Israel is a new organization for action and leadership by and for English speakers in Israel. They welcome our participation and support on all subjects to contribute to this great little country. lf you want to know more about them, and maybe get involved you can be added to their mailing list, free of charge, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless all my fellow English Speaking Lovers of Israel.
I have a lovely ESRA story to share with our readers. I am in fact the administrator of ESRA Magazine. Some months ago on opening my computer I found an email from a woman living in the States who was getting married and was keen to find suitable institutions in Israel for her wedding guests to donate money to in lieu of gifts on this celebration. Well ESRA was the perfect answer to her dilemma and I forwarded the request to our ESRA director and in no time the matter was handled to the satisfaction of all.
In April of this year I visited the States. A family friend invited my family to join them at a baseball game, which we duly did. There I was sitting in a box at the game amongst strangers. I mentioned that I work for this dynamic organization in Israel called ESRA. A gentleman sitting alongside said: “I can’t believe it. We just got married recently and we organized that our guests make donations to ESRA in Israel in lieu of wedding gifts.”
“And I must be the person your wife was in email contact with in organizing that generous gesture” was my immediate reply.
Is it not unbelievable that I should be visiting from thousands of miles away, sitting at a public baseball game right next to a gentleman who is a stranger to me, whose wife, also a complete stranger, organized that their wedding gifts should be donated to people in need in Israel via ESRA through my office?
What serendipity. Truth is surely stranger than fiction.
Administrator of ESRA Magazine
Modiin ESRA does it again with wonderful harp recital
1. Motzei Shabbat was a very special evening in Building 3 of Dimri towers. The party room rang out with the sound of beautiful and enchanting music. Under the auspices of ESRA Modiin, Jackie Klein and Cynthia Barmor arranged a wonderful harp recital by the talented musician Liraz Choloniewski. There was also a lovely boutique of Ethiopian made products and many books for sale from the ESRA used inventory. A wonderful time was had by all.
2. A record turnout last night enjoyed the harp recital by the well-known harpist, Liraz Choloniewski. Another ESRA Modiin success. Sorry you were not there.
Thank you ESRA Community Fund
1. For your contribution in assisting Giazi and Mison A. of Rahat in their time of crisis.
Sophie Pozner, Social Worker
Ministry of Health, The Child Diagnostic & Rehabilitation Center,
2. For your great generosity and for your grant which I needed so much.
I am a final year student at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa. I am 24 years old and live in the student dorms. When I go home I stay with my disabled father he lives from an insurance pension and needs my help. Studying at the Technion is very demanding so it's not possible to work much, and I must maintain a high average so I can continue to a Master’s in electro-optics. I thank you for helping me to achieve my goals. I couldn't do it without this help.
ESRA Modiin volunteer English tutors thanked
1. When you first came to our school, I was curious: I had never heard of ESRA organization, but it sounded as a great thing.
Our students came to sit with you and practice their English - hesitantly at first, because they didn't know what to expect, but from the second time you came they were arguing over who could join you.
Your helped us hugely: our students practiced their English and had the feeling of a "real conversation" and not only "class conversation", and when the time finally came for the oral Bagrut exam, I could see the difference. They were not nervous at all. THEY reassured ME that everything was fine and yes, they got excellent grades.
Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for being patient with me when the schedule changed at the last minute; when we couldn't find the keys to the room, or we couldn't find a room - and of course, for working with our students and helping them to improve their speech.
We are all waiting for you to join us again next year,
Best wishes and have a great summer,
Ricky Moreno, English Co-coordinator,
Rabin High School, Modiin.
2. We would like to thank you, Simmy, Dorothy, Shoshana and Philippa, our great volunteers who came to our school every Monday afternoon to practice oral English with our Bagrut students, and of course to you, Marcia, for coordinating our meetings, keeping in touch and making sure that everyone was happy with this wonderful program.
Your contribution made a difference and the students passed their Oral Bagrut with flying colors. These Mondays were very meaningful in other respects as well.
Our school was privileged to have your help this year and we hope to continue with this great program next year as well.
With great appreciation and respect,
The English staff and 12th grade students,
Yeshiva Bnei Akiva Lapid, Modiin
3. I would like you to tell your volunteers, Cynthia Barmor, Ralph and Tina Barnett, Adena Goldberger, Linda Lewis and Vicky Pilo, how much we appreciated their help in preparing our students for their oral Bagrut. The students’ reactions were unanimously positive, which is actually an understatement as we literally had students begging us for a second turn as they had enjoyed speaking to these volunteers so much. (I don't recall many students begging us for an extra lesson!)
Thank you once again for your help; it was greatly appreciated by both students and staff and we look forward to seeing you again next year. This time we'll be in touch right from the beginning of the year.
Yehudit Ronen, English Coordinator,
Macabbim-Reut High School.
4. Teaching English to Israeli teenagers is quite a challenge and many times I've wondered whether it is possible. In my 4-point group there are many children whom I have never heard speaking a word of English. Honestly speaking, there were times when I had sleepless nights worrying what these kids would do when they would have to sit in front of a complete stranger and hold a conversation. Despite all my efforts to encourage these children and promising them nobody would burst out laughing once they began, I was unable to do it. They would just sit there and insist on answering me in Hebrew. “ANGLIT ANI LO YODE - AH!”
And then you came along.
Believing you knew only English, the children talked about you with such respect, as if Queen Elizabeth herself had sent you all the way from Buckingham Palace to our school to help them prepare for the oral exam.
Every Sunday morning they would ask whether "the testers" would be coming in on Wednesday and began arguing who would go first.
Even though it took them a while to find the school library where you were waiting for them, they always found you and enjoyed the precious moments they had. Coming back to class, by the way, took them much longer...
הן מצויינות, הן יודעות אנגלית מצויין ,יוווו הן רק מדברות אנגלית,איך זה עזר לי
are some of the things the children said as they came in from the library.
Many children felt the practice was very helpful and made them understand how much English they really know (or don't...)
Our children were tested three weeks ago and did extremely well.
I wish to share the credit for their success with you.
The children worked hard, the teaching staff did their bit and you helped the children put it all together.
Thank you, Ruth Brunert, Jackie Klein, Adena Goldberger, Nomi Klein, Juliette Kuritzky, Julia Torgman and Marcia Primes.
Hope to see you again next year.
On behalf of the English staff,
Dena Rosen, Coordinator Ironi Gimmel, Motte Gur,
5. For some of our students, the first session with you was merely another reason to skip an English lesson. Others were too scared to open their mouths because they had never used English in a communicative way before.
A week later they were all excited to converse with you because you won them over. With your non-judgmental approach and sincere enthusiasm and smile, you gave our students the confidence and the practice they needed so badly for success. Thanks to you, the girls succeeded with flying colors in their oral Bagrut. They couldn't have done it without you!
We look forward to seeing you again next year,
Judy Blankenstein and Ayala Rivlin,
Ulpanat Orot, Modiin.