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A time to weep . . . and a time to count blessings

The title I have chosen for my message in this edition is a reflection of what we will be reading on Succot – the Book of Ecclesiastes "Kohelet" where it actually says "To everything there is a season….a time to weep and a time to laugh." These past weeks have indeed been extremely difficult for us all. I refer to "Operation Protective Edge". How hard it was to pick up the newspaper in the morning and to see the faces of our – too young – soldiers who have given their lives in the defense of our beloved Israel. We have lost the cream of the cream for how else would one describe those brave young men who volunteer to enter the combat units so that we can continue to be protected. Like me I am sure as you saw photos of those who are no more and touched their lives your eyes filled with tears. Each one very special and each one sorely missed by their nearest and dearest.

As always ESRA reacted in the only way we know how – a mirror of what our citizens were feeling. What could we do to help both our brave soldiers as well as those families who were at the receiving end of the majority of rockets – the people in the South of the country? The answer was the launch of ESRA's "Operation Protective Edge" Campaign. Your response was fast, magnanimous and full of love. Your donations provided vitally needed awnings for the soldiers to protect them from the desert sun. Your generosity assisted families in need in Kiryat Gat and Sderot (this we did in cooperation with the Municipality of Herzliya). We also were able to fund 10 families from Sderot enabling them to enjoy a vitally needed break at the Dead Sea. Then came all the "loved filled" packages socks, vests, underwear and "nosh" for the soldiers and games, toys and books for the many children who spend countless hours in the shelters. THANK YOU ALL!

Throughout these challenging days ESRA has continued with its manifold activities and programs. Outings continued, end of year activities at our projects were as enjoyable as ever. How meaningful it is to participate in these events. I had the pleasure of participating in the "end of year" Chagigah at Hefzibah's "Students Build a Neighborhood" project. The super Coordinator had prepared, together with the Students, short clips of the various groups of youngsters performing especially for this event. It was great to see the wonderful bond that has developed between the Student and his/her group of children. What is proving to be especially meaningful is that the majority of the students in this neighborhood, that consists of virtually 100% Ethiopian residents, are themselves Ethiopians. What a great example it is for these kids, coming from very challenging backgrounds, to see that their student mentor is Ethiopian. This project began in 2008 and has proven to be an outstanding success story in an area that, before ESRA's involvement, was known for its high crime rate. Today there is an 80% reduction in crime. The children in Hefzibah are guaranteed a better tomorrow thanks to ESRA and its partner the Netanya Municipality. Because of our success the Municipality recently requested that we partner them in a third SBN project in Netanya. Thanks go to our wonderful chair of Projects Nina Zuck.

Please look out for the advert promoting ESRA's 2014 Calendar which is simply superb. Special thanks go to Terry Morris and Susan Kurnedz.

Finally I would like to extend our deep appreciation to our Executive Director Yonit Gurfinkel and her small but totally committed staff who have given their all during these difficult days. .

As we go towards a New Year let us count our blessings of which the greatest is, as the words of Hatikva say, "To be a free people in our land."

Wishing you and yours Shana Tova. 



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Thursday, 25 April 2024

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