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Chairman's Message 206

ESRA continues to 'Pay it Forward' 

As the New Year and season of chagim rapidly approaches, it is an appropriate moment to look back and reflect on what has happened around us and within ESRA during this turbulent year of 5780.

Undoubtedly, this year will be recorded as a unique period in history and a year during which mankind's behavior was drastically changed. I will leave others to analyze world and national events, and just focus here on ESRA. We have surely been affected by events around us and made changes in response, and the key to having done so successfully boils down to a single word – understanding.

ESRA has always valued and sought to understand the views, opinions, and needs of others, and that means our members and friends first and foremost. In today's changing environment the importance of this has become clearer than ever. We recently conducted an online survey that was very well supported and we appreciate your resounding response, have taken on board your preferences and comments, and have started acting upon them.

Firstly, we needed to understand the changes required of us and adapt them in the way we arrange our events and activities. This has resulted in most branches offering lectures, musical events and other activities online through Zoom, meaning all branch activities are open to a nationwide ESRA audience. Consequently, we are offering our members a varied array of excellent activity options week after week. Although local branches have still not returned to face-to-face group meetings, they have gained a wider audience, helping them continue to fund their own local education and welfare projects.

Secondly, we had to understand how our projects need to change and are working closely with our partners to minimize the effects of the financial crisis. We have been obliged to slightly reduce the number of students in our four Students Build a Community projects in Netanya, and to postpone the introduction of a new SBC venture due to uncertainty about how the coming academic year will evolve. On the other hand, in Akko, where the new SBC project began last year, our partners are so impressed with its success that they have asked us to increase the number of students in the coming year, a request we have readily and happily agreed to implement.

ESRA's English Tutoring Program (ETP) is also adapting to today's new reality of online remote learning. With an understanding of the new mode of teaching, ESRA is working alongside the Ministry of Education in developing exciting new online tutoring programs. We offer Zoom training to tutors who temporarily cannot engage in face-to-face meetings. Content is being adapted by a small group of volunteers experienced in educational training, and new online tutoring programs, such as Distance Tutoring and Chat Away, will enable ESRA volunteers to continue their excellent work. If you are interested in becoming a part of this team please contact Anat: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our fundraising campaigns have also been adapted to the new reality. Fundraising is presently focused on ESRA's Welfare Fund, which is providing aid to the many individuals and families throughout the country who find themselves in financial crisis. Response to our donation requests, and in particular to our 'Pay it Forward' campaign, which is still running as I write, has been truly amazing. Our Welfare Fund grants have alleviated the stress and desperate need of so many. On behalf of all the recipients, I would like to offer a huge thank you to all our donors for your kind understanding and generosity. Rest assured that ESRA will continue to play its part to bring help and relief wherever we can, in your name.

No matter what the New Year brings, we will do our very best to continue to understand and to adapt. In June you elected an Executive Committee with some vibrant and enthusiastic new members. We look forward to optimizing change wherever possible while continuing to offer you, readers of the ESRAmagazine, our ESRA members, donors and friends, the services you have come to enjoy and expect over the past 41 years.

On behalf of all of us in ESRA, including our wonderful office staff, may I offer the most sincere thanks to you for your individual and collective input to ESRA and for the many messages of support, as we once again spread our wings and learn to fly in this new era. I wish you Shana Tova and Chag Sameach and hope you all enjoy a wonderful holiday season in the company of family and friends – with or without Zoom. 



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