ESRA held its Annual General Meeting last month. Our Founder and Hon. Life President, Merle Guttmann opened the proceedings by sharing her thoughts about some of the challenges facing our organization. These included endeavoring to reach out to new immigrants from English speaking countries, nurturing and giving support to our branches, building up our mailing lists and increasing hand-delivery of our magazine, and believing in people and taking chances.
Having had the privilege of chairing ESRA for one year I believe these are vital points towards ensuring our continuity as the vibrant dynamic association we have become.
For me the most important part of the AGM was the open discussion on the subject of “Strengthening our Tomorrow”. ESRA is not alone in recognizing the significance of planning ahead. In 2008, President Shimon Peres initiated the first “Presidential Conference” bringing together Jews from the Diaspora with Israelis who were addressed by international scholars, artists, clergy, economists and many other leaders in their specific field. June of this year saw the 5th such conference named “Facing Tomorrow”.
The subtitle for this event is “The Human Factor in Shaping Tomorrow”. There can be no doubt that we all have to plan for a strong and healthy tomorrow. Globally we see how Jewish communities worldwide are diminishing and, at the same time, we recognize the detrimental effect the media projection on Israel is having on our own Jewish people. Sadly, there is a decline in identification with Israel which is manifesting itself at the same time as an increase in anti-Semitism. These matters were highlighted at the “Presidential Conference”.
Where does ESRA fit into this picture? There can be no doubt that we must reach out to English speaking olim, both those already here who have not as yet found us, as well as those who are coming and will continue to come. We need your assistance in accessing these newcomers – do put them in touch with ESRA because we can help in easing them into their new life. A successful klitah will encourage others to make Israel their home.
Membership is the lifeblood of our organization. We know that many readers of this superb magazine are not, as yet, members of ESRA. Membership is of tremendous importance to us, for by becoming a member you are identifying with ESRA and its contribution to Israel’s weaker elements of society; you will be able to enjoy all that the organization has to offer in terms of its outstanding programs for English speakers, and your subscription will help offset our relatively small but necessary expenditure. Please join us!
ESRA is synonymous with volunteering. We are always on the lookout for more volunteers to support our activities. Perhaps you have recently retired from your professional life and are looking for something meaningful with which to be involved? If so, ESRA is definitely your answer.
As I look forward to my second year in office I feel extremely privileged to be part of this special organization. It is a pleasure to work with our volunteers as well as with our small but exceedingly committed professional staff. I am confident that we will continue to go from strength to strength, and can do no better than to quote President Peres who had this to say about his conference.
“My experience has taught me that people tend to underestimate the tremendous ability within them, and yet mankind has the power to make a difference to ensure the betterment of our collective tomorrow.” This is ESRA.