On a cold winter's night, over seventy English speakers of Rishon and the surrounding area received a warm welcome to ESRA Rishon's10th anniversary celebration. This was the first function of the group to be held in the new meeting place, which has been designated by the City of Rishon LeZion as the cultural and social center for English speakers. As explained by Motti Ajami, Deputy Mayor for social and welfare issues, Rishon is supporting ESRA in providing this venue because of the value it places on the volunteer projects run by the organization, and its hope for the expansion of these efforts.
This recognition was not easily achieved, and culminates a campaign started ten years ago to put Rishon on the map for English speakers, both new immigrants seeking to make their home in Israel, as well as long-time residents who enjoy the company of fellow English speakers. Success is due to ESRA Rishon Chair Janet Kiesari's persistence, in her untiring efforts both in regards to the City, and in regards to the National ESRA governing board. This board was represented at the meeting by Merle Guttmann, Life President and Founder of ESRA, and Baruch Tanaman, Chairperson of the organization, who provided an overview of ESRA projects by means of a video presentation.
The affair began with some social time for meeting new friends and old, around tables with delicious refreshments, culminating in the lighting of the candles on a beautifully decorated cake to commemorate the 10th anniversary. The musical entertainment was provided by Rachel Wollstein, who sang and accompanied herself on the guitar in a program of familiar favorites as well as her own compositions.
A flyer was distributed to publicize the schedule of program details for the year to come, which took off the same week with a wonderful musical program by Barbara Blum.