Saturday evening April 24 saw a huge crowd rolling into Kehilat HaKerem, the Masorti community in Karmiel. No, they didn't mistake the timing of Shabbat services, they simply came to discover what this ‘new’ group called ESRA is all about.

The tables were attractively set up with cheese and wine, hot and cold drinks and easy to eat veggie strips. Seeing my worlds come together, originally with Kehilat HaKerem in Karmiel, and now as a volunteer in ESRA Netanya; seeing so many people I know, and of course seeing so many new young faces from Karmiel/Misgav excited me beyond words.

The chatting before the program was very keen and enthusiastic; in fact it was hard to get the people to move in for the lecture. Here I saw such creativity: after all the times I have been in the shul in its 13 years of existence, Mike and his crew found a way of turning the directions around and finding a white wall to use as a screen, so it was simply lovely!

Mike Cronin gave the introductions about ESRA adding: “My wife Frankie did all the background work, the emails, the encouragement, the reminding, organizing the door people, the stickers, the lovely food and drinks, the selling of ESRA goods... but she cannot stand up here in front of all of you, so I am doing it for her!”

Sharona Stanhill from Nefesh b'Nefesh Karmiel/Misgav explained the strategy of bringing immigrants up North. Nina Zuck, (ESRA’s new co-chairperson) in her delightful warm manner expressed her excitement at seeing such an amazing number of people (64) at an ESRA event. She gave a superb description of some of ESRA’s projects and explained how ESRA loves to hear volunteers' ideas and then run with them. “Please come up with whatever idea you'd like to be involved in and we'll do our best to help you get going with it.”

Shamira Iancu-Nuriel shared her very interesting knowledge on Japanese culture, in particular how they use laughter, which led her to her expertise: Laughter Yoga.

The crowd immediately caught on, cooperated, participated and simply loved hohoho-ing and hahaha-ing and just laughing for the love of laughter and with no reason apart from knowing how this really makes us feel good.

What a wonderful evening! How encouraging! How exciting! May Karmiel/Misgav become another successful branch of ESRA, providing a comfortable and stimulating environment for English speakers in this beautiful area of the Galilee.

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Joan Weisman

Joan (Stein) Weisman came to Israel in August 1972 and two weeks later started teaching. She lived in Jerusalem but traveled to Kiryat Malachi to work in two elementary schools. After four years of...

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