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Chairman's Message 202

With the stream of chagim behind us, the new academic year is finally underway. This is an important event not just for Israel's schoolchildren and Ministry of Education, but also for ESRA, whose education projects get underway side by side with the schools, adding support and promoting academic success. 
Taking pride of place among our education projects is Students Build a Community (SBC), now in its 14th year. Selected students are provided with housing in disadvantaged neighborhoods, enabling them to complete their degrees and, in return, each student devotes several hours a week to tutoring and mentoring local schoolchildren. The students become community activists, the children gain confidence and improved academic performance, and the entire neighborhood is uplifted. 
Unlike other charities that take a short-term view, ESRA is there for the long term, serving the community for as long as the need exists and the results justify the investment. That's why SBC is still going strong after 14 years, impacting four Netanya neighborhoods. Eager to spread this success story, we can now proudly confirm the start of a fifth SBC project, in Akko. Working together with a local partner, we look forward to Akko reaping the same benefits that SBC has brought to Netanya.
SBC projects now include 48 students, mentoring almost 200 schoolchildren. In a moving ceremony in November, we saw 24 of our students receive extra scholarships for their additional 130 hours of volunteering, providing an extra support in their communities.
And there's so much more we are doing. The ESRA/Shapiro Skateboarding project is running 6 groups in Netanya, Rishon Lezion, Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv. This weekly course for children from distressed areas, enables them to acquire a skill, discipline, and self-confidence, while having a great time, and culminates in their receipt of skateboard equipment.
Another very special project is ESRA's Journey to Identity. This course for teens, mainly from the Ethiopian community, aims at enhancing self-confidence, leadership, and a deepened connection with their Israeli identity and with their heritage. The course culminates in a roots trip to Ethiopia from which everyone returns changed in wonderful ways. This year courses are running in Netanya, Rishon Lezion and Givat Olga. 
The last of our education projects to be mentioned here is one in which everyone can volunteer and contribute to the future success of our country's children. English Tutoring Program (ETP) is a nationwide program run by ESRA in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, which has given its official approval.
ETP volunteers are helping schoolchildren with their English studies in over 110 elementary, junior high, and high schools throughout the country. Our recent advertising of the English Tutoring Program has received a huge response from you, our members, and from the wider English-speaking community. As a result, the number of ETP volunteers has mushroomed and now totals about 500 across the country. 
So how does it work? Volunteers are assigned to a conveniently located school where they tutor children for 2 hours a week. ESRA provides training for volunteers who are also given guidelines by the school English teacher. The children benefit from free English tutoring during school hours and, from all reports, the volunteers are very happy with the experience as well.
As our advertising slogan says "You have a gift you can share" just by being an English speaker – no experience required. So why not get involved in ETP yourself?
Doing good for others is wonderful… but so is having fun and being entertained! Tickets are available for the annual gala fundraising concert to be held on Sunday 19th January 2020. This year's concert features Danny Sanderson, the celebrated Israeli singer-songwriter, with his band. Generations of Israelis know all the words to nearly all his songs. Although his amazing talent may not be familiar to some of you, we assure you that ESRA won't let you down and you can look forward to a terrific evening's entertainment.
I would also like to encourage you to purchase raffle tickets which you will have received by now and which will also be available at the concert. This year's Annual Raffle 2019/20 offers exciting prizes including vacations at top Israeli hotels. The raffle draw is on 27th January 2020 and you could be among the winners, so try your luck, and support ESRA's important work.
Terry Morris

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Monday, 24 June 2024

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