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A Word From The Editor - 204

Dateline: March 13, 2020
A storm raged last night, the winds howled, my shutters banged closed, chairs, buckets, plants were thrown to the ground, and the streets were deserted. Environmental havoc. This too as the pandemic rages, creating pandemonium, panic. Total uncertainty. Yesterday ESRA's chairman and small staff worked feverishly cancelling and rescheduling events as no one knew what would be new today. 
My granddaughter came to collect the car key, knocked on the door and stood far away from me saying: "Merlie, I work in a hospital and I don't want to infect you", so I threw her the key. One of my daughters' families is in quarantine having been in France visiting their son. A grandson of mine is in quarantine because he was in a polling booth where a man was discovered to have the corona virus. Another grandson, who works in a large international high-tech company, has been working from home for two weeks by company's orders – all the employees were instructed to work from home. The bustling heart of Tel Aviv where I live is quiet, few cars, few people. Eerie.
Yet life goes on, and we will find a way to live through all this. Pesach is on our doorstep, as our cover shows, a Seder table, beautiful and traditional. In his essay on the mystique of the Seder, Rabbi Frimer quotes Rabbi Soloveitchik: "As a child I was fascinated, indeed entranced, by these clear moonlit nights, wrapped in grandeur and majesty. I used to feel stimulated, aroused, inspired ... A strange silence, stillness, peace, quiet and serenity enveloped me. I used to surrender to a stream of inflowing joy and ecstasy." Janine Levy gives us some simple Pesach recipes to make to keep us sane and enjoy the chag.
Whilst we are about Jewish traditions, I am sure you will enjoy reading some Jewish humor: Leonard Romm writes about the wise advice his zeide gave him – don't go with strange women; Eli Libenson, a former rabbi, tells three Jewish anecdotes, one on the difference between a schlemiel, who spills the hot soup and a schlimazel whom it spills on. In her Humor column, Jennia Ganit Chodorov also has some good Jewish jokes for us.
Whatever, don't be put off by the stormy weather. Read how Gabriel Meyer, on crutches, in a torrential flood in Nahariya was driven to safety through roadblocks by a courageous and kind driver. And ESRAites in the north defied weather reports of storms and went on their outing to Hadera to visit the Feinberg House and Electricity Company. 
As usual, we have informative articles. Of course, this time, facts and fallacies on the coronavirus, and simple guidelines on how to behave. Adv. John de Frece stresses how every family should have access to critical documents – an Enduring Power of Attorney and Wills - which allow dealing with a family member's wellbeing in case of mental or physical disabilities, medically anticipated or unforeseen circumstances. Alan Deutsch gives his annual tax returns advice for US citizens living in Israel. Melvin Farris illustrates the danger of fake news, and how readers should be discriminating in sorting out what is true or false. 
People inspire me with what they do in life for others. Laurence Lebor went on a 200km bike ride in Italy to honor the memory of Gino Bartali, the legendary Italian cyclist who saved many Jews in 1943 by hiding false passports and documents in the tubes of his bike, and distributing them to Jewish refugees to enable them to escape Italy from the Nazis. Ruth Corman writes about David Rubinger, a news photographer, reporting on all Israel's wars from the front line, "the photographer of the nation in the making", said Peres. Marsha Stein went south to the Negev and met with Ethiopian and Bedouin women who make unique contributions to their cultures and to the mosaic of Israel. Shashi Ishai tells us how Mark Bloom, Ireland's wonder boy young golfer who suffered a severe accident which cut short his brilliant golfing career, is running a new golf facility in Beit Yitzhak for people, with special needs; it is the brainchild and baby of Argentinians Nora Leiczuk Goldfinger and her husband. Ruth Kaniel writes how Gail Bernstein treats children and adults to cope with their physical and emotional problems in the Snoezelen Room, here in Israel and in China. Trevor Janes, PhD., a Canadian who spent time at the Weizmann institute, interviewed Dr Tomer Fishman, whose research connects academic disciplines and finds win-win  situations for the environment and the economy, shaped by his graduate studies in Japan. 
The Berlin Philharmonic is enamored with their new musical director, Kirill Petrenko, a Jew, writes Irving Spitz, and they will be performing in Israel, hopefully, in May. There is a very moving story by Judy Shapiro on the fate of her daughter's cello which was cracking up, and how a French luthier swopped it with a Chinese cello.
Some people are ageless. Mike Porter writes about his art teacher, Marianne Ravor, 99, whom he visits regularly: "When it comes to remembering, Marianne makes me feel old and forgetful. And I seldom argue with her – she has too often proved herself right". When Mike Rubin turned 90, Adele, his wife, wrote about his achievements for Israel, amongst which were suggesting to Bank Leumi that they import a computer, which they did, and it took up an entire room and was the first commercial computer in Israel; and proposing to Bank Leumi that they set up a credit card operation, and three years later he became General Manager of VISA. On the other side of the coin, Pnina Moed Kass shares with us sound tips on counteracting memory loss, like putting your children's telephone numbers on your I.D. Geriatrician Dr. Yoel Eisenberg warns family to resist attributing confusion or decreased memory to Alzheimer's disease as this may unjustly stigmatize and deprive people of a proper assessment. 
Who knows how long we will be restricted due to corona, but stuck at home you might like to write a short story for our ESRAmagazine 2020 Short Story Competition – TIMELESS. 
Stories to enjoy are: the beautiful love story by Maia Aron which started with Herb, her late husband, at the age of 6; how an 18-year-old Israeli Shay Ohana volunteered in Dunoon, a township in South Africa, teaching her young wards how to write their Xhosan names in English, and much more. If you love tales of Israel of yore, as I do, of read Stephen Schulman's amusing tales of their time on Kibbutz Yizreel, studying Hebrew and working. 
I know it seems far-fetched to plan trips overseas, but two countries sound very tempting – Claire Rabin gives her take on exotic Zanzibar, and Esther Eliad reveled in Indonesia and took some interesting shots. 
Happy Pesach and keep well. 


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