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A Word From The Editor - 205

Another year has zoomed past us, another Annual General Meeting and election of our Executive Board 2020 – 2021. I want to congratulate and thank Terry Morris, for the incredible job he has done in his first year as ESRA chairperson, and in such a difficult time of Corona, when the office was closed and the staff was working from home. He had the toughest decisions to make, often immediate. He has shown flexibility, courage and initiative, and always with a listening and attentive ear. He, together with our active Executive and our excellent CEO, Sunny Marshansky and staff, have kept ESRA running, alive and kicking. Thank you all. 

The AGM was of course held on Zoom. It had its advantages of enabling members from all parts of the country to attend, and 87 did, many tens more than at our usual AGMs. Running meetings, teaching, lecturing on ZOOM - is an art which has to be learned and mastered. Bebe Jacobs, a volunteer English tutor and coordinator, wrote about "Zoom is in a class of its own when it comes to teaching" and Tamar Tal-Bloom, a student in ESRA's Students Build a Community, in her article "Beautiful moments in the days of the virus" illustrated how it was necessary to translate the intimate personal touch with the neighborhood kids into a long distance relationship. Not an easy challenge. 

For me too, it was a challenge. I had participated in Zoom happenings – family get-togethers on Shabbat and Pesach, business meetings, Yiddish lessons, and I hated to see myself. So, in preparation for the AGM where I had to deliver greetings, my daughter Yehudit came to my apartment the day before to set the stage – the lighting in my bedroom where my computer is, if to turn on lights, open and close shutters, which ones; the position of my computer and which direction it should face; the distance of my chair from my computer, which chair and what height; the sound; where to put my notes and how to hold them; what color to wear; the props, and more. It was quite amazing how getting the setting right made an enormous difference to my confidence, and for the first time I didn't cringe when I saw myself on Zoom at the AGM. In short, the art of appearing on Zoom. 

We have a whole section on Corona, of course, how could we not – 26 pages. A real mix of stories, two of which I have mentioned above. There is an interview by Marian Lebor with Dr. Debra Gershov West, Head of the Emergency Department of Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, Israel's newest public hospital which opened in November 2017. Apart from how the hospital and staff functioned during Corona, the bottom line is how to live in today's new normal – "Be cautious, stay informed - but don't be afraid". 

There are features about the Spanish flu, a deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. It lasted from spring 1918 to early summer 1919, and it infected 500 million people – a third of the world's population at the time, killing 50,000,000. We are getting off really lightly. Cynthia Barmor writes about how her grandfather died of the pandemic in South Africa; and Harry Wall writes of the tragic death of his aunt, Alice Wolowitz, a student nurse, aged 16, who began her shift at a hospital one morning in Philadelphia, fell sick during the shift, and was dead that same night. Jessica Dahan, a 35-year-old from Sweden, when COVID-19 hit the world, vividly relived her experience of the Swine Flu which she contracted on a visit to South Africa, and suffered a life-threatening complication ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), the same complication which the worst Coronavirus patients suffer from. She was hospitalized for two and a half months. 

Jackie Benson writes about life BC, and how on their return from a beautiful weekend in Cyprus they were quarantined in Israel. Myra Olswang relates how Israeli schoolchildren, including her granddaughter, Einav, got encouragement and guidance online from schoolkids in China. Liz Trakeniski tells about industrial design student, Orr Joffe, daughter of Sue who was for many years ESRAmagazine's administrator, rallied to raise money for food for Pesach for the 31 cleaners who lost their jobs due to Corona at the Holon Institute of Technology; Orr also initiated and coordinated the production by her fellow students of thousands of transparent shields for nurses - this they did on their personal 3D printers at home non-stop. 

Glenis and Lawrence Bertfield write how they passed their days during Corona, enriched by ESRA activities on ZOOM - lectures, Zumba, quizzes – walks and watching the daily funny videos that were abounding on WhatsApp. There is moving tale by Evelyn Grausz and Miriam Barasch of how concerned citizens traced the owner of an envelope with money for a baby gift, with the help of ESRA.

I am sure many of you are dreaming of traveling overseas again. To whet your appetite, and to help you plan, read Shlomo Liberman's travelogue of 79 days around the world; and Esther Eliad's picturesque account of her trip to Voodoo land in West Africa. Or read about Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, famous for the film "Night of the Iguana" starring Richard Burton and Ava
Gardner, which Eli Libenson visited this year. If you are hesitant to plan an overseas trip, drive out to the Negev and the Gaza Envelope which you can read about in Stephen Kliner's report on an ESRA outing; visit the fascinating Tractor Museum in Ein Vered which captivated Lydia Aisenberg; or Magdala, an archeological site on the shores of the Sea of Galilee which Lucille
Cohen describes. Our people stories include a riveting story by Tzemach Bloomberg of why it took his father, a specialist in public health, 26 years to reach Israel. Dalia Sinclair recounts how Mike Amir, an officer in the British Army, and not Jewish, changed the course of Israel's history. Zohar Turiel shares with us the legacy of the Negev's Dr. Doolittle, Prof. Reuven Yagil, a leading veterinarian, considered a world expert and researcher on camel milk, which he believed could solve the problems of hunger in Africa. Honey Stollman tells us about Lea Goldberg, the Israeli poet pictured on our yellow NIS 100 note. Congratulations to Naomi Stuchiner, who founded the outstanding Beit Issie Shapiro with her siblings, and has been awarded, deservedly, the President's Prize for Lifetime Achievement. She is profiled by Carol Novis. I have fond memories of the beginnings of Beit Issie, as ESRA helped find its very first volunteers, at a meeting held in my home. And my late husband Gert, designed the first building of Beit Issie, and its specialized swimming pool for people with handicaps. 
Laurence Lebor enlightens us on the role of the Catholic Church in Assisi and residents who saved many Jews in 1943 and 1944.
For a taste of Eilat's history, you'll enjoy Siri Jones-Rosen account of her days in 1974 as a talleywoman at the port. There is charming story by Mike Porter of how he and Ruti traveled to the wilds of Australia in 2001, to a rainforest in Queensland, to be present at the birth of their third grandchild. 
If you are even thinking of going into a retirement home, first read the legal guidelines by Shavit Ben Chorin.
Savor it all with the story by Sharyn Weizman of 45 years of the Herzliya Book Club and their recipe book. Also, some simple summer recipes by Janine Levy. Bridge by Alan Caplan and Humor by Jennia Chodorov.


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Saturday, 18 May 2024

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