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Readers' Letters - December 2020 Issue 207

Thank you for your scholarships 

Dear ESRA Five Towns Branch,

I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to support and donate funds for my studies in medical pedicure. I especially appreciate it very much in these uncertain days which we are now experiencing in the Corona times. It is important for me that in this period when I lost a great part of my income and must cope with the day-to-day financial management. I have no doubt that your donation will open a door for me to a source of additional income which I need as a single mother.

I terminate with the citation of the Welsh poet George Herbert: "Thou that hast given so much to me give me one thing more, a grateful heart!"

I wish you all continued blissful work and good health – you and your families.

Lilach A., Zichron Yaacov


I am a medical student, fourth year at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

First of all, I wish to thank you for the blessed surprising scholarship your association granted me. My mother is the only breadwinner at home after my father passed away three years ago and she cannot manage to support my studies and living expenses. My family supports me very much since I decided to study medicine and gives me emotional strength.

My mother helps me in all ways (cooking and laundry) so that I can completely concentrate on my studies (so far I have an average of 86).

Your grant which I very very much appreciate blows some air in my breath and helps me to keep my head above water.

I hope and wish that you always will be in the stage of giving.

Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

Uriel A., Zichron Yaakov

Long live "Hatikvah" 

Thank you very much for yet another exciting ESRA Magazine #206 – as always so impressive.

It was saddening - not so say disappointing - to read the critical write-up about Hatikvah

It may be old both in text and music, but it happens to be our old national anthem widely recognised and is always sung with intense great emotional participation, whenever large congregations gather in Israel and abroad.

So it may not suit everybody, or some minorities may find it mis-fitting, but they are free to not sing along; the similar situation may well be the case and is applicable in many other countries.

But Hatikvah is for our Jewish land, our Jewish Zionist homeland with our Jewish majority and let us therefore not change our national anthem

There is a terrible modernistic tendency to throw overboard our very good old heritage, because it doesn't necessarily hundred percent fit to today's and tomorrow's socially correct situation.

But let's not forget that our cultural heritage goes back very long, and what was produced in those days was fitting for then – doesn't mean it misfits today.

Let us be progressive and inventive and come up with new treasures but please, without dumping the old.

Long live Hatikvah – let us let Hatikvah live long – and let its spirit of hope fill all of us.

Werner Bachmann, Herzliya 

Stop swimming in illegal places 

In the article in ESRA Magazine #206, September 2020, about Michael Ben-Zikri who saved an Arab family from drowning and then he himself drowned - it was hardly mentioned anywhere that the family, along with a lot of other people, were swimming at a place where swimming is forbidden, and therefore there was no lifeguard on duty.

Every year people drown in the sea because they swim at beaches where there is no lifeguard, believing "it will be okay". I think that it should have been more strongly emphasized, so that people will stop swimming in places where it is illegal.

Otherwise, as usual, a great magazine. Keep up the good work.

Sallie Tangir, Tel Mond

Acts of human kindness 

Today I received a phone call from a friend in Raanana to tell me she had met my son at a food shop in Raanana. How kind of her to do this. Soon after, I received a call from the manageress of the building I live in to ask how I am. She had phoned me the previous day also to enquire.

She was concerned that she hadn't seen me for a couple of days ("it's been too darn hot").

It's these little caring things, these acts of human kindness that can make one's day special.

Fonda Dubb, Eilat 

Excellent review of Kathe 

Dear Judy Shapiro,

The book review you wrote of Kathe is wonderful (ESRA Magazine #206, September 2020). At the same time that you cast Kathe into the horrors of her world as a nameless child with a number on her arm for the convenience of her murderers, you rub the rough edges of statistics until they are smooth and touchable enough to make the reader weep. I was moved by the way you handled the change from statistics to humanity, by the way you examined those numbers until they became human faces and lives unlived. I finished reading the review feeling such sorrow. For me, the loss of that child and her family is emblematic of every child and every loss. In that situation all Jews were innocents. It wasn't just the children who didn't understand what terrible fate was ready to overtake them. The oldest bubba and the most experienced zeder were as frightened and as baffled as the youngest child. What was about to happen to them was utterly incomprehensible. Even now, the terrible loss of all those lives, all performed with the utmost punctiliousness by the Nazis, seems so soulless, like looking into the empty darkness of a black hole.
Have you read he Last of the Just? I read it many years ago and it has stayed with me. One part I remember well is the scene in the train where the children ask their teacher, "Where are we going?" And the teacher responds that they're all going on a picnic. The children are delighted. Someone within hearing distance asks the teacher why he is lying to the children. The teacher responds that in this place at this time, there is no room for truth. There is a profound understanding here of the ineffable nature of the world they are living in. I'm sure you've read this book. If you have not, then drop whatever you are doing and read this extraordinary book.
You've captured the essence of the book and the feeling of a terrible time in the history of our people.

Carol Shepko, Vermont and New York, United States

Photo actually Moshava Kinneret, not Chatzer Kinneret 

In the interesting article entitled "Splendiferous Kinneret" in the September edition of ESRA Magazine, two pictures on page 21 need captioning.

The bottom left-hand picture shows Degania in the background and crossing the Yarden by cart. The bottom right-hand picture is actually Moshava Kinneret, and not Chatzer Kinneret. Chatzer Kinneret is to the right outside the walls of the moshava. To the left in the picture is a tall building, called Beit Tridel, and it still exists.

Robin Froumin, Hadera 

Editor's note: The captions on the 2 photographs in the online edition of ESRAmagazine have been corrected 

See: https://magazine.esra.org.il/esramagazine/look-into-it/latest-esramagazine/entry/splendiferous-kinneret.html

 Wonderful learning experience worldwide

I would like to suggest a wonderful learning experience to the readers of ESRA Magazine. The Chicago based Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), under the auspices of Northwestern University, offers seniors courses in a wide array of topics in the liberal arts and in science. I have been a member for several years and can attest to the high quality of the program.

Because of current circumstances, OLLI is now being offered as an online learning experience. This works to our advantage as one can be anywhere in the world and still participate. Using Zoom, it is the next best thing to sitting around a table, as we can still see and interact with one another. A Trial Membership entitles you to one 14-week course and one 4-week course. The cost is $155 and scholarships and subsidies are available.

If this interests you, go to Google and type in Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Chicago.

Eli Libenson, Chicago 

A terrific sense of humor 

Stephen Schulman's hilarious article entitled "Push The Tomato into the Bull" in the September edition of ESRA Magazine had me in stitches. But even funnier were his comments below the bloops & blunders of the students. A terrific sense of humor. Thank you.

Sue Aizenfish, Netanya 

There is no glory in war 

Dear Dalia Sinclair,

Your article on the unveiling of the monument dedicated to Australian Aboriginal Light Horse troopers was very moving (ESRA Magazine #206, September 2020).

The connection between Australia in this case, particularly the indigenous community, and the inception of the modern state of Israel is so important especially when history seems to be forgotten in these "cancel culture" times and is either erased or revised.

It always brings tears to my eyes when reminded of the terrible treatment of the indigenous community and again, in those times, when willing to give their lives they received no recognition or benefits on their return. Sometimes it seems that things never change or at least very slowly.

How wonderful that you were able to meet Mark Pollard and that connection with Israel is still there.

Victoria Nadel, Sydney, Australia

I cannot "mask" my anger!

With the exception of some people, with certain medical conditions, we have all been told to wear masks.

Apparently, there are people who think that wearing the mask below their nose, on their chin or, in some cases, on their elbow - in case the police should be around to catch them without a mask – would suffice.

I have resisted the impulse to challenge people, as I am not in charge of the mask directive.

However, I feel that not enough is being done by the authorities to see that this safety measure is carried out.

We are living in a very dangerous time. I do not want to mention any members of the population who have a complete disregard for keeping their distance and mixing in large crowds. If this carries on, it will be impossible to stop this virus from killing many more people.

I am one of the 'older' members of the population and, like many others, have more-or-less been confined to my home for fear of catching the virus. I am also one of the more fortunate people as I have a husband to keep me company. I have not been able to see my daughter or

grandson. I cannot imagine how terrible it must be to live alone and not be able to mix with friends and family.

I would ask everyone, please, to make a point of wearing your mask correctly.

Lillian Unger, Kfar Saba

ESRAmagazine #206 had so much relevance for me 

First, the beautiful article and photos of the Ethiopian Embroidery Project in Sderot, run today by kibbutzniks and the embroiderers themselves. It was a reminder of my contact with new immigrant handicrafts when I first came to Israel in Jerusalem) in 1951.

In the article on Caroline Simon, there is a photo that includes her late husband Arnie Simon from Canada (page 59). In 1951, he roomed at the Dayans' home in Jerusalem (Dayan was the Military Governor of Jerusalem), and was asked by Ruth Dayan when she went with Moshe to the Imperial War College in London to continue a project she had started (that led on to Maskit) supplying raw materials to new immigrants in the maabarot (transit camps), mostly Yemenite, to enable them to continue with their traditional handicrafts. I had just finished ulpan and undertook the job to buy the raw materials and take them to the camps in the Castina area and the Jerusalem hills, in a very wet winter by bus. I have some cute stories of then.

By the way, Mike, then my husband-to-be, also roomed with Arnie and other students after the Dayans left.

Adele Rubin, Sderot 

I owe my life to de Sousa Mendes 

I owe my life to Aristides de Sousa Mendes, according to the article in our ESRA Magazine #206 by Arthur Berger and Harry D. Wall https://magazine.esra.org.il/esramagazine/look-into-it/latest-esramagazine/entry/portuguese-award-to-diplomat-for-saving-holocaust-refugees.html. In May 1940 we were stuck in southern France and barely managed to escape to Portugal. I was 11 years old and I remember it well.

Now I know that thanks to de Sousa Mendes we got visas to Portugal. It took us 18 days to get to Lisbon. We were stopped on the high seas by a British destroyer which checked the passenger list. Instead of cargo, the built bunks were like those in the concentration camps, hard and inhospitable, in the hold. The ship was therefore very light, and I was very seasick. For food we got hot water with occasional bits of vegetables. But we survived. So it was a good thing. From there we eventually made it to the United States on the next to the last passenger boat to leave Europe.

Many thanks for the article.

Ilse Gluckstadt, Karmiel 

Be more than grateful that one has a glass, half full or half empty 

Be more than grateful that one has a glass, half full or half empty

Over the best part of a year that we have been experiencing the trials and tribulations along with the rightful preventative measures covering the pandemic, each of us hopefully seeks something to be positive about.

A personal mantra I have found is vital and ours is "things could be worse". This is especially so to count our blessings when one reads of the unfortunate medical and financial plight of many in this very difficult period, the world is experiencing.

Another very bright light is your ESRA Magazine whose articles along with superb lay-out and graphics gives one a lift when presented with an insight into life enhancing stories.

A glass half full or half empty has never been more relevant and therefore we should be more than grateful that one has a glass.

Stephen Vishnick, Tel Aviv

Please ESRA, don't discard the older books 

I was stunned to read in your latest issue (No. 206) that the books which are stocked in the ESRA bookshops are those which only were published after 1995.

During this difficult corona period, when most libraries and bookshops are closed (or access to them is difficult), I have resorted to re-reading my own books, most of which were published long before 1995, and I am enjoying them the second (or even third) time around as much as I did originally. Amongst the first-rate books I have re-read recently have been Herman Wouk's Caine Mutiny and City Boy, Paul Gallico's Poseidon Adventure and the The Boy Who Invented the Bubble Gun, Diana Pearson's Summer of the Barshinskeys and Voices of Summer - and many others. I am also enjoying re-reading some of my thrillers, written by tip-top authors like Ellery Queen, Patrick Quentin, Cornell Woolwich, Wendy Corsi Staub, (the under-rated) Jean Potts, Joy Fielding, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie – and others.

I also have a long list of books published more than 30 years ago which I have never read but wish to do so, including some of the classics.

Regrettably I find that most up-to-date books are too filled with bad language and scenes of violence, to be enjoyable.

Please, ESRA, don't discard the older books. I am sure that I am not alone in loving the wonderful oldies.

Rhona Yemini, Givatayim 

 

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