In the beautiful surrounds of the Guttmann's garden against a backdrop of the setting sun, over 160 volunteers came together to be honored and thanked for their magnificent contribution to the success of the Esra Magazine.

From the very beginning Esra realized the power of the written word and the importance of sponsorship via advertising.  Communication became the word!  The "gestnered" 4 pages of 1979 developed, mutated and re-invented itself to becoming, today, a glossy, full color 100 page production which has stayed true to the successful formula of providing information, challenging articles, notice boards, campaigns, discussion, expression and, above all, a great read.

Technological developments have aided this development from 250 hand-written, cut & pasted address labels to a several thousand strong computerized & coded database; hand-written/drawn duplicated sheets to the latest digital printing resolutions/pixels, computers…

However, the magnificent teamwork that started in May 1979, has not only continued but has increased its momentum and now calls upon an army of 350 volunteers to write, edit, type, illustrate, proof-read, design, label, pack, distribute, administer, manage and market.

Over a pot-luck supper which ably demonstrated the culinary skills of all those present, volunteers greeted one another, swapped stories and experiences with many meeting the faces behind the names they have seen in print but had not met.  It was an opportunity for writers to meet magazine packers, for bundle deliverers to meet proof readers.

A few spoke of their memories working on the magazine.  Stella Padeh, the first typist, recalled how Merle visited her home to see if she would be interested in helping out and how, within minutes, they had rolled up their sleeves and began hitting the keys on her typewriter.

Carl Hoffman gave some amusing examples as to how a writer can take inspiration from events whilst Barbara Abrams enthused as she thanked ESRA for the wonderful experiences she had gained whilst on assignment for the magazine.  Mike Cronin took us down memory lane with examples of the magazine's development as shown by the changing cover designs.

Our hostess for the evening and editor-in-chief, Merle, paid tribute to those present and those unable to be there in person for making the magazine one of the largest volunteer efforts in ESRA.  One hundred and forty editions have emerged from Merle's house, as for many years the magazine was delivered, labeled, packed and distributed from the Guttmann's lounge.  A troop of volunteers invaded 3 Derech Hasadot every two months and caused total disruption to the Guttmann household which they bore with amazing patience.

Liz Trakeniski was the compere for the evening and offered some humorous insights into the world of writing.  One anecdote told was as follows:

"Cheryl Liebson and I worked together in Merle's 2 X 1 office at the front of this house.  Cheryl was responsible for getting adverts and classifieds which she did with a successful combination of charm and determination.  However, one day she passed onto me an irate advertiser, a fortune teller and medium, who ranted that she had had no response to her advert.  Cheryl was surprised at my somewhat curt response, "Madam, you really should have seen that coming."

Thanks to all those concerned for a memorable summer's evening.

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Liz Trakeniski

Liz Trakeniski graduated Birmingham University school of education in 1976 and has a background of more than thirty five years of community work in England and Israel.  Following her coming to...

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