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Leah Esterson 1932-2018

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Leah, I am writing this with a very heavy heart. I cannot believe you are no longer with us. Even though you passed away a few weeks ago, only one month before your 87th birthday, you worked as a very dedicated volunteer in the ESRA Raanana office for over twenty years and only stopped about a year and a half ago when your health deteriorated. I was so very lucky to have met and worked and learned so much from you Leah. It was my dream to be a social worker. You came from America and worked there as a social worker. I came here and because of the language barrier did not follow my dream to become one. But together, you, myself and the other dedicated volunteers in the office, helped many new olim integrate and find new jobs and feel like they belonged in a new country. Leah, you and I were not only work colleagues, we had a special bond and became friends.

Leah, you will be missed both by ESRA and myself and many other volunteers that were fortunate to have worked with you. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to ESRA.

With all my love,

Cheryl Liebson

Leah Esterson (left) with Freda Lanesman and Linda Schlosberg – the three all volunteered in the Raanana ESRA office

Leah started volunteering in the Beit Fisher office from its inception. She was a very dedicated volunteer and undertook many different tasks. Amongst other office jobs, she helped run the ESRA Job Placement Service that had been started by Ita Weiner, which helped new olim find employment. Being a social worker herself, she instinctively knew where and how to place people.

Whatever the weather, Leah would come on her appointed days, by taxi, and never missed a day.

She was one of the nicest and easiest people to work with and became a personal friend to many of us – even as far as us often going out to lunch after our day's work in the office. You knew that if you had a problem, you could confide in her and she would give you very sound advice. She had a good sense of humor and liked a good laugh, often regaling us with stories of her life at university, and we often compared our backgrounds which were very traditional. She was a highly intelligent person with a broad knowledge of many topics from world events to the most personal, and wasn't afraid to express her opinions.

Leah was a very caring family person and even when she became less mobile, it was very important for her to have her family around her on chaggim, birthdays and anniversaries.

We will all miss her very much.

Judy Copeland, Freda Lanesman, Lilyrose Michalowky
and all the Beit Fisher 'staff.'

I am grateful that our cherished friend Leah is suffering no longer and that be'ezrat Hashem she is reunited with her beloved husband, Jerry.

I miss her presence near me.

I will try, in Leah's honor, to describe what she represented for me: Leah embodied wonderful qualities that are seldom found singly, and especially rarely found together. She was always dignified, principled, and concerned that her home, and the world at large, should be properly managed. It is perhaps surprising then that she also carefully considered others' ideas, laughed easily, and was most warm and loving.

Leah was a champion of universal human rights and a great Zionist. In these, she saw no compromise or contradiction. It was a privilege to hear her voice her intellect on so many topics, from the most personal to the global.

We would fondly recall when our great friendship began, twenty two years ago. I came as a legal consultant to hers and Jerry's home, and, in true African style, proceeded to change my young baby's diaper on their magnificent rug – a new image for Leah, and one she accepted with typical quiet amusement.

Though devoted to her own tribe, Leah would remind me of my six children's birthdays, by discussing what might be an appropriate gift from her, always at least two weeks ahead of time!

In her final days, she cared to donate the piano she'd received as a child from her parents to an ESRA center, where others could enjoy being taught to play. I will never forget how our beloved Leah – even at the height of her prolonged suffering could easily be diverted to concern for others, and her beloved Am Yisrael.

May her dear soul rest in peace.

Janine Bloch

 

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Monday, 02 August 2021

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