When my wife and I started going to Beit Daniel synagogue in Tel Aviv, we were very pleased.  The rabbis were friendly, the cantor was excellent and the atmosphere was upbeat and casual.  Then one Friday evening we got a surprise: there was a substitute cantor, a young man with a guitar and ponytail and a voice that was a joy to hear.  The only downside was that my wife couldn’t take her eyes off him; he’s an extremely good-looking boy.  Well, I guess that she deserves some eye-candy occasionally, so I adjusted to the idea.

We learned that one Friday evening a month this man, Boaz Sterenberg, comes to Beit Daniel and makes the shul an even more special place.

We generally go to shul Friday evenings, but if it’s cold and rainy or we’re exhausted, we skip it.  But when Boaz sings, we go no matter what.  He’s just too good to miss.  We got acquainted with Boaz and found out that he’s a very talented performer.  When he takes off his yarmulka, he sings English and Russian songs in addition to Israeli and religious songs.

My mother’s 95th birthday was coming up and I wanted to do something special.  We thought of hiring a hall and band, but that would be a strain on the family budget.  Also, we generally celebrate family affairs at a restaurant called “Ovid’s Al HaKfar in Or Yehuda.  Then I thought of Boaz – his voice could really make my mother’s 95th special!  I asked Ovid whether Boaz could sing in his restaurant.  He said, “sure, no problem”.  Boaz was willing to come down from Haifa and bring his sound equipment and it was all set.

The night of Ma’s birthday came and we all gathered at Ovid’s.  Boaz came with his equipment and got ready.  But the restaurant was too noisy and he had a very hard time.  In spite of the noise, Boaz performed heroically and it was great.  Ovid said that it was the first time that anyone had sung Adon Olam in his restaurant.  Then it got even better.  Boaz did “New York, New York”, Ma’s favorite, and brought the house down.  Old Blue Eyes would have been proud.  Ma had a memorable 95th birthday and everyone had a good time.  I was particularly happy that I didn’t have to hire a hall and band.  I patted myself on the back for my imagination and thanked Beit Daniel for finding Boaz for me.

Eli Lato, Holon



We thank you for great initiative to warmly dress the neighborhood children.  Babies and toddlers alike enjoyed your warm donation and we thank you on their behalf.

Adi Ben Ari, Sister in Charge of Hirsch Center for Young Children, Ajani Jaffa



I am enjoying the beauty of the ESRA Magazine, the good pictures, illustrations, and interesting articles.  My English students use it for studying English.

Thank you – keep up the good work.

Peter Shmuel Levitt, Netanya



For your scholarship which is enabling me to achieve my goal of successfully completing my law studies, at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, with which I will be able to help all Ethiopians in Israel who need it.  During my army service, all my earnings went toward supporting my family, my parents and six younger brothers.

Tigit, Sderot

For your aid to Betty A. which has enabled us to help her well and efficiently.

Michal Arbile-Cahalon, Kiryat Gat – Social Welfare Dept.

For your answering our appeal to help those persons who turn to our “Distress-Hotline”.

Nina Bar-On, Natal Distress Hotline, Tel Aviv.

For your generous donation of books, to students who come from difficult socio-economic backgrounds, the vast majority from immigrant families from the former Soviet Union.  They were not able to purchase these books themselves and as they formed part of their English school curriculum this was causing some distress. 

Once again your Caesarea chairperson, Jane Krivine, saved the day, as she does every week heading our ESRA volunteer team at school.  They truly are amazing.

R. Jacobs, Head of English, Ulpanit School, Or Akiva



Recently, because of personal tragedy, I became closely acquainted with a very special institute in Haifa called Bet Shabtai Levy.  The pain that was in my heart has been lessened by this magical home for needy and desperate children.  The work they do there is holy.  That is the best word to describe it.  First I need to begin with a lady named Ruthy Carp.

Ruthy is a social worker by profession, but in my opinion, she is an angel.  This woman works with a capacity of up to 60 children who are in transition from broken and desperate homes.  The children range from a few months old to 8 or 9 years.  Ruthy is extremely professional on all counts, but she is also very compassionate, loving and totally devoted to the children.  There is a certificate hanging in her office which says she was given the “outstanding social worker of the year award in Israel”, But that does not even come close to saying what she really is.  She takes care of these children as it they were her very own.  Each and every child is well cared for and loved and secure and safe for the first time in their little lives.  She knows and understands the needs of each child as if they are her very own children.

I was called upon to visit three little children who were almost completely destroyed.  They entered Bet Shabtai with severe behavior problems, totally neglected, violent, heads covered with lice, torn shoes and sad dead eyes.  It is now a few weeks later and the same children are calm, have much better manners, are secure and even smiling; although they are without their parents.  It looks as if a little magical fairy came and waved a “love wand” over them and that is what Ruthy and her staff did.

I have never seen anything like this before; such devotion, such patience, such caring and now because of Ruthy and Bet Shabtai Levy, these innocent little children have a chance for a decent future.  They plan beautiful outings for them  

and everyone who works there makes very sure that their clothes are clean and their meals are freshly prepared and healthy.

From the time I entered that building until today, I have been buying and collecting many items for the children and through doing this, I have also been reminded of what a wonderful country we live in.  Many people have donated lovely toys and clothes for the children, for which they are very grateful, but one group of ladies did something which brought tears even to the workers’ eyes.  They are the ESRA Knitting Club led by Wendy Goldstein.  They knitted 36 beautiful little sweaters in amazing colors, but it is not only the beauty of the sweaters I speak of; there is something they did which made us all look in awe.  Many of the sweaters had little pockets and in each pocket was a little surprise; a candy or a tiny gift. Whoever could have thought of that.  Each stitch on those sweaters spoke of love.  Those children not only looked beautiful, but were wrapped in warmth and love all winter long because of these special dynamite ladies.

I always try to count my blessings.  I try not to leave anyone or anything out but now I have new blessings and so much pride.  I am so proud of the loving hearts in this country.  I feel so blessed that as painful as this personal journey is for me, my life has been touched by Ruthy Carp and the staff, and knowing that Bet Shabtai Levy exists for our children.  I pray nobody should ever know of such tragedy, but these are all our children and we have so much to be thankful for.

Arlene Ben-Zur, Beersheva



At the end of February this year, Yocheved Miriam Russo, a reporter with The Jerusalem Post wrote a three page article about the ESRA Bookshop in the Metro weekend magazine. She and a friend came up to the bookshop from Beersheva where they live to talk to some of the volunteers and to buy books (a lot!).  They came again in mid March and bought a huge amount of books, but unfortunately neither Cynthia nor Dorothea (co-coordinators) were in the shop that day.  They were upset that they had missed them and Cynthia contacted Yocheved to that effect, and again thanked her for the article she had written, which had brought the bookshop a great deal of business.  This is the reply Cynthia received from her.

“Hi Cynthia – how nice of you to call with such great news – lots of donations!  Wonderful!  That means there’ll be lots of good stuff when I get back again.  Can’t tell you how much fun Barbara Carter and I have on these ESRA trips – what a ball!  I fill up my “agala” (shopping basket) with books.  She buys a couple a couple of bags full, then we hit one or two shops for a few essentials, then have some lunch.  Just about a perfect day….

And then I get home and spend hours poring over all my reading material – the only problem is I read through it much too fast.  Such good stuff you have, every time.  This last time, I bought a bunch of books by Scottish authors and I’m loving every one of them.  Someone in the store that day said, “You’ve completely changed my book-buying habits”, perfect.  Mine too.  It’s just so much fun coming up to spend a little time in the shop – so friendly, so many good books.

So thanks for all you and Dorothea together with you wonderful band of volunteers, do in so many ways – and your message really made my day that my article had some good effect.  Thanks again and looking forward to seeing you both next time we come up”.

Yocheved Miriam, Beersheva.



The ESRA Nearly New Shop is often given valuable articles such as silverware, gold, ornaments, antiques, ivory and pewter which we have valued by official valuators who do this without a fee.  We receive typewriters, sewing machines computers electrical items, which we test and if possible repair.  These are valued for us. 

We are fortunate in having a volunteer with experience in furs.  She checks and values.  We recognize the difference between designer clothing and simple off-the-rack wear and price accordingly.

Even unsaleable items are sold by the kilo for recycling.  Before we hand over an article to the buyer, we demonstrate and show that “it works”. 

We give goods to the poor and needy and new immigrants – they can pick the best and not pay.

The income from the shop makes a substantial contribution to ESRA’s many charitable projects.  I invite all donors to spend an hour helping us and get to know how we operate.  Please continue donating goods, we need stock and it’s “a mitzvah to give”.

Motti Weiner and Ruthanne Fields, in charge of ESRA Nearly New Shop in Raanana.


Our volunteer organization, “To Build Free Community Colleges in Israel”  (FCCI), on the New York state model, with payback after the student graduates and earns money, is ready to transform theory and intellectualizing into action.
We hope to open the first community college in the Tel Aviv bus station.  This is the first step in providing the opportunities for virtually all Israeli citizens, including the handicapped, to obtain life-long education for intellectual, psychological, moral and professional growth with sufficient recreation.
If you would like to join our 100% volunteer organization and help this concept become a reality in Israel, please contact me.
Peter Shmuel Levitt, 5/2 Borochov Street, Netanya, Israel 42266. Tel: 0507293755


I read the write-up by Diana Naaman with great interest, “A troupe of strolling players are we at ATTAD” (ESRA Magazine #138 pg. 88).

I am aware of the outstanding work ATTAD (Aid to the Aged in Institutions) has been doing for many years.

What surprises me is that no mention was made of Naomi Sklar who started ATTAD.  She was the founder and president.  Naomi Sklar has received praises galore, awards and many honors.  To mention some:  Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, ACCI, ESRA, Lions Club Geriatric Centers in Netanya, Pardess Hanna, Gedera, the Municipality of Netanya, Shaarei Menashe Center for Mental Health, plus donations and letters of thanks from individuals here and abroad.

Naomi Sklar had also donated a computer with color graphics monitor (VGA) disc information retrieval system, visual scanner, tape recorders and cassettes, movie projectors, puzzles, games, books, magazines and art supplies.

Her good name should have been mentioned by Diana Naaman for her wonderful and dedicated work.  She invested her time for many years with wisdom, devotion and dedication to the aged.  Naomi Sklar is an absolutely special person.

M.M.R., Netanya



This wonderful article by Mrs. Gloria Deutsch went straight to my heart.

My mother was born in England in 1905 of Russian parents who arrived in England at the beginning of the 1900’s.  My grandparents could neither read nor write, but they were wonderful anyway.

My mother married, bore two daughters, (me, and my sister) and on upbringing she was very very strict about manners of all types.  I’m still wondering where she learnt all the table manners.  We had to sit straight at the table, not to speak with our mouths full and when we’d finished eating, to put our knife and fork together straight down on the plate.  The result?  I am a widow living alone, and some months back, I had to laugh to myself as I realized that I still lay my knife and fork together when I have finished my meal.  One can say: “doing what comes naturally”. 

Regarding the way the Israelis eat, mainly the teen generation, my late husband and I once had lunch in the Azrieli mall and at the next table there were eight mixed teenagers eating, four on either side of their table.  My eyes popped out when I saw one of the girls, nearest to me, eating, resting her elbow on her thigh, resulting in the fact that her head was lowered practically in her plate and she was using a fork to push the food into mouth.   Disgusting is not a strong enough word.

Mum also knew which cutlery was to be used first, as Mrs. Deutsch writes: “One starts from the outside working inwards”.  I gather my mother saw this at weddings of which there were many on my grandfather’s side; he being one of six children, which resulted in “simchas”.  As my sister and I got older, mother often said that children have to be educated from birth.

It was great fun to read the article, sadly table manners are no longer “en vogue”.

Mignon Lubinski (nee Templelhof), Raanana



It has been a while since I have been sharing with the readers of the ESRA Magazine my joys and woes in settling down and integrating in your marvelous country.  It is now time that I return home and I do so with memories of friends made, bonds forged and an admiration for the incredible courage and nation building energy here.  I also take back warm memories of ESRA, who welcomed me with open arms and introduced me to the diversity that is Israel.

I could experiment with Esravision and writing and very quickly I realized that my strange sounding name is familiar to several thousand people in this country because of the ESRA Magazine.  I wish to place on record a huge thank you to ESRA, Merle and the Editorial Board of the Magazine,  Esravision, the book shop, the ESRA office and all ESRA members who have responded promptly to my cries for help.  And thank you dear readers for the time you took to read my stories.

By the time this reaches you, I will be back in New Delhi, settling back into the business of daily life there.  But all ESRA-ites, so remember, you have a warm welcome waiting for you when you come to my country.  Just send me an email at

I look forward to seeing you in India!

Vandana Chatterjee,  New Delhi, India.



The ESRA Online Magazine is my idea of a truly ideal, practical, most helpful online magazine.  Or, a magazine in any medium, come to that.  Very unfussy, typographically clear, and with readable text.  I salute the person who put it together.

Danny Yadin, London



Expensive and wonderfully shot and edited, pity there are no Hebrew subtitles….well worth investing in.

Tehila, Mikan Company for Cable TV.












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