ESRA is growing, developing and flourishing – and growth often means change. With that in mind, for the first time in 25 years, ESRA’s AGM was not held in Ra'anana, but was hosted this year by the Rishon Lezion branch in its lovely new venue, a municipal community center. Well attended by members from Nahariya to Eilat, the event offered a plentiful spread of refreshment, and plenty of discussion.
Kicked off by ESRA Chairman, Baruch Tanaman, the first person he invited to speak was Merle Guttmann, ESRA Founder and Honorary Life President. She thanked Baruch for leading ESRA with wisdom, vision, and setting an example to other volunteers with his hard work. She outlined the breakthroughs and achievements made in the last year. Merle emphasized that we are a volunteer organization and the importance of the volunteers – it is what makes our organization special.
In his report of the year's activities, Baruch presented reasons for celebration – new branches opening, and existing branches invigorated and receiving a “home” for meetings through the negotiation efforts of our General Manager, Sunny Marshansky. Bequests have been received that will allow us to continue our vital work in the community, with projects such as Students Build a Community and so much more. And finally, the beginning of ESRA's overseas presence with a London event marking the establishment of UK Friends of ESRA, with thanks to Terry Morris and Richard Stein, instrumental in organizing it. Baruch thanked former regional coordinators Jane Krivine and Janet Kiesari, and those taking over from them – Harry Hiller for the north and Cynthia Barmor for the south, and Glenis Bertfield, who is central region coordinator and will also be taking responsibility for overall regional coordination. As for celebration, Baruch promised that next year, ESRA's 40th Anniversary year, will indeed be a year of special celebration.
The finance report from Roger Lavender, Chairman of the Finance Committee, indicated that we are doing well in being able to continue funding our important community work. The Financial Statements and Control Committee (Albert Levi, Tami Keidar and Avichai Dahan) were unanimously approved, as was the appointment of our External Auditors, Stark and Stark.
Next followed an open discussion, led by Brenda Katten, ESRA's PR Chair, on the topic “ESRA as a national organization”.
Three representatives of local branches, Janet Kiesari (Rishon Lezion), Gabriel Meir (Nahariya), and Glenis Bertfield (Raanana), were invited by Brenda to present their experiences, and then discussion was opened to the floor with many taking part. The crux of ideas expressed was that members would like more inter-branch and national social activities to get to know each other better. As we are all of us volunteers in a volunteer organization, run by volunteers, we hope many will take the initiative toward organizing the events they would like to see happen. The issue of membership fees was also raised with a suggestion of minimal installment payments for anyone requesting help, thus allowing everyone to be a member and enjoy activities with discounts.
Elections were held with the following results:
- ESRA Chairman – Baruch Tanaman (for his last year in this position)
- Co-Vice Chairs – Terry Morris and Glenis Bertfield
Executive Committee – All those nominated were unanimously approved:
- Cynthia Barmor
- Lawrence Bertfield
- Neil Davis
- Avraham Hanson
- Harry Hiller
- Stephen Jacobs
- Brenda Katten
- Barbara Kliner
- Susan Kurnedz
- Juliet Rostowsky
- Terry Shlomo
- Sella Yavin
- Nina Zuck
And so begins our 40th year of doing good for each other, and doing wonderful things for Israeli society.