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Merle Guttmann was born and educated in Zimbabwe and immigrated to Israel in 1962. She is well-known in Israeli Anglophone circles and Israel’s social and volunteer fields. A social planner, writer, editor and active community leader, she has held tens of positions serving Israeli society.

Guttmann has an M.A. degree in Social Planning from Bar Ilan University, and a B.A. from Cape Town University. She has taught at the Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan Universities and worked in Israel for the National Insurance Institute, Maccabi Health Fund, Ministry of Defense, and other public bodies. She has authored many publications and articles.

For over forty years Ms. Guttmann has been actively involved in the world of volunteering in Israel. She has helped set up numerous nonprofit organizations and served on their board of directors. Her most recent position (2003–2009) was chairperson of ETZA – Israel Self Help Center. She has also served on the boards of the Center of Small Businesses in Raanana (Mati), the Center for Family Peace (Herzliya), the National Council of Voluntarism in Israel, Telfed – South African Zionist Federation, the United Jewish Israel Appeal, and is a former member of the Kfar Shmaryahu Local Council.

Guttmann was the founder and chairperson and is the Life President of ESRA – English Speaking Residents Association, a self help organization composed of volunteers assisting in the absorption of English speakers and a multitude of social and community welfare projects for immigrants from distressed countries, disadvantaged families and people with disabilities. She is also the Editor of the ESRA MAGAZINE which she initiated in 1979.

Guttmann is the recipient of many awards for her contribution to Israeli society including the Israel President’s Award for Voluntarism (1992), the Prime Minister’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership (1999) and the Telfed Yakir Zion (2008).


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