It started with an announcement in the ESRA Newsletter #5 January/February 1980:
Please join us at an informal get-together to chat about possible future activities of pensioners, on Sunday, March 9th, at 19:30 at the Brods, 12/4 Hanadiv St., Herzliya. RSVP – 987824. If you need transport please phone 938183 (daily) or 986461 (Wed. morn.)"
The next announcement appeared in issue #7, May/June 1980. Written by Natalie Gold, it was headed HERZLIYA ON A SUNDAY, SAY THE SENIOR CITIZENS.
To quote from the article:
"An offspring, recent and little known, of the English Speaking Residents of Herzliya and Kfar Shmaryahu (ESRA) is the Friendship Club for Senior Citizens. Each Sunday from 16:30 – 18:30 you will find us at the Tina and Joseph Golden Age Club in Sirkin Street (adjacent to the Great Synagogue, Herzliya). Senior maybe in age, but young and interested in all aspects of Israeli life, we now meet in these lovely premises (how Tina would have kvelled if she could only see this tribute to her own devotion to the community), to enjoy a friendly glass of tea, meet the speaker of the day and discuss or question the subject on hand.
"Let me give you a brief resume of our activities to date: (continued Natalie):
- 4th May: Jack Alkow 'Philosophical Implications of Lag B'Omer.
- 11th May: A program of Anglo-Yiddish humor on records by courtesy of Murray Banks, assisted by Wally Gold.
- 18th May: The speaker failed to appear but the group rose to the occasion and a lively program emerged nevertheless. Everyone had a story to tell – and so we did! Speaking for just a few minutes, each member gave a potted history – what a book it would make!
- 25th May: Rav Seren David Zahavi spoke about the Army, giving an insight to the human aspects and problems of the IDF. We all have children or grandchildren serving, but little is heard apart from a grumble, so this was very much appreciated.
- 1st June: Esther Philinsky spoke of pride in our heritage and how this could be used to absorb olim.
- 8th June: An afternoon of Rummy, Klabijas, Chess, Dominoes and Scrabble – a feeling of togetherness.
- 15th June: Mike Rubin spoke on 'Banking Services in Israel', informative and helpful and, no doubt, we'll invest more wisely in the future!
"Future programs will include open discussions on topical issues, music, lectures, games and whatever requests or suggestions you would like to make.
New members will be most cordially welcome and if there are some who find difficulty in getting out and about, we will be pleased to arrange transport."
In 2002, (22 years after it was founded), the name of our ESRA Golden Age Club was changed to the Golden Friendship Club.
For the members of the longest-running group in ESRA, including no less than six sprightly nonagenarians, age wasn't important - friendship was. Friendship has been the keynote of the club's weekly meetings throughout the last 33 years, as you can see from Natalie Gold's article in May 1980.
Based in Herzliya, the club has also welcomed over-60s from Raanana, Kfar Saba and Ramat Hasharon, who belonged as much for the informal, companionable atmosphere as the quality of the varied programs
Leaders of the club from 1980 to 2001 . . . (from left) Harry Cole, John Vernon, Nat Granby and Henry Blanks
Leaders of the club from 2001 to 2013. . . (from left) Jo Granby, Natalie Goodman, Jean Levin and Inge David
Programs in the last ten years or so have included an address by an outside speaker once a month and entertainment provided by our own members:
- Barbara Blum's privileged previews of popular musical presentations
- Yehuda Tamir's anthologies of poetry and prose
- Jean Levin's direction of comic and serious play-readings
- Cookie Rabban's quizzes for all occasions
- Inge David's exercises and relaxation
We also enjoyed discussions on diverse subjects, told stories of our youth and our aliyah, reported on our holiday highlights, listened to our favorite discs and played board games and Bingo.
We celebrated our birthdays and the Chagim; shared recollections of the High Holidays and Pesach, ate cheesecake at Shavuot, drank wine on TuBeshevat, seders, wore funny hats for Purim, and for Chanukah sampled delicious doughnuts and latkes from our own capable caterer, Cyril Solk.
We held appropriate commemorations for Yom HaShoa, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut and ended each season with a picnic in the park.
Throughout the years the successful administration of the Club can be attributed to its dedicated chairpersons. In chronological order of their leadership from its founding in 1980:
- Harry Cole 1980 - 1990
- John Vernon 1990 - 1993
- Nat Granby 1993 - 1997
- Henry Blanks 1997 - 2001
- Jo Granby 2001 - 2005
- Natalie Goodman 2005 - 2008
- Jean Levin 2008 - 2009
- Inge David 2009 - 2013
During the last months, sadly, our numbers have decreased - with some of our loyal members passing away and others no longer able to attend meetings – to the extent that with great regret we had no choice but to finally close the doors on our Club … but not on our friendship.
Hopefully, we shall keep the spirit of the Club alive with regular get-togethers in members' homes.
Judy Fisher has been the volunteer secretary of the Golden Friendship Club for the past 15 years.