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​Chairman's Message 210

So, What's Happening?

At ESRA's 42nd Annual General Meeting, held on Zoom in June, I reported on the many developments of the past difficult Corona year. Wishing to keep you all updated, I will review some of them here.

There is more to report than space allows, and I apologize in advance if I have omitted any important events or special people.

One positive result of the pandemic, is that we in ESRA stepped back for a critical look at ourselves – at the way we work, the way we operate in our many different areas of activity, our objectives and our results. In doing so, it became clear that change was inevitable, like it or not. Inspired by our internal investigations leading to qualification for the Midot Seal of Effectiveness, we understood the need to evaluate the effectiveness of all ESRA's activities. Looking at what we want to achieve and how best to achieve it, led us to the realization that what we essentially need to do is focus.

In this light, our Projects Committee carefully examined the various projects we were running, some sadly forced into idleness by the pandemic. Standing as a beacon of contrast was our flagship project SBC – Students Build a Community. It continued to operate throughout, albeit in a slightly different format, but students living in all 5 areas of the project's operations maintained contact with the schoolkids and their families. We are so proud of our students, of the extra effort they made, and the level of care they showed for their community. This is what ESRA aims to achieve and, by hook or by crook, we succeeded.

We have become even more resolute in our belief that building communities through education, mentoring, and social activism, as in Students Build a Community, is where we should focus our efforts. This year we will be opening new SBC's in Rishon LeZion and in South Tel Aviv. These are in addition to the current four long-established SBCs in various districts of Netanya, and our SBC project in Akko. Our ambition is to continue to expand the SBC program to other areas of the country where it is needed – and there are many.

Hopefully, our local projects, overseen by ESRA branch members, will be reawakening and prove to be a focal point for the branch, providing opportunities for volunteering in the local community and seeing direct results from their fundraising efforts.

Thanks to the dedicated work of a magnificent group of ESRA volunteers and tutors, the entire English Tutoring Program switched to Zoom and resurrected itself as a powerful force. Today almost 350 tutors, some of them even working from abroad, are operating up and down the country and in many different schools. New tutoring programs have been created and developed along with the Ministry of Education, and we can be extremely proud of those volunteers who have worked so hard to keep alive the idea of 'giving back', simply by using our natural gift of speaking English.

ESRA has traditionally offered its friends and members a wonderfully wide range of activities. The last 15 months has seen a massive change in format, with the arrival and firm establishment of the Zoom era. Wanting to continue providing rich and varied entertainment, our branches faced serious challenges in doing so.

It was thanks to the sophistication of our office systems that branches were able to continue their activities. We were able to handle online registration and payments, so that the switch to virtual Zoom events was relatively quick and smooth. ESRA's activities were highly appreciated and very well supported, particularly during the periods of lockdown we all endured. Branches continued to offer an array of excellent activities week after week, due to the extraordinary efforts of our staff, to whom we certainly owe a great debt of the gratitude.

As space limitations prevent me from mentioning other major developments, I recommend that for a more comprehensive overview of ESRA's activities, in an easy to understand graphic portrayal, take a look at our Annual Report 2020, available for viewing on our website. It offers a fuller understanding of the things I've mentioned, as well as a review of additional aspects of activities and developments not covered here.

Shortly after you receive this ESRAmagazine the holiday season will be upon us. As I write, it is uncertain how this will be affected by the rising Corona figures but, no matter, ESRA will certainly be here for you. Wishing all readers, wonderful volunteers and supporters, as well as our loyal donors, a healthy and sweet Shannah Tova and enjoyable holidays.



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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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