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Hello, this is Ruth Barina

... Would you like to renew your ESRA membership?"

Countless ESRA members have lifted the receiver, or accepted a call, to hear those opening words. Sometimes spending upwards of 20 minutes per call, Ruth was often the only voice heard that day by many in lockdown, as she diligently made calls from home in the name of ESRA.

Phone calls from friendly strangers can be deeply satisfying, even when they occur like two ships passing in the night. That's why Ruth not infrequently put people in touch with ESRA's Befrienders when she detected their loneliness. Aside from being a sensitive listener, Ruth has been very successful in chalking up renewed memberships, helping ESRA to continue helping others.

But not wanting to be just an anonymous ship passing in the night, Ruth decided to share more about herself. So who is Ruth Barina? Here's her story…

"I grew up in a small Jewish community in the North of England where nearly everyone around me spoke English with a European accent, and had names that sounded very different from those of my English classmates. Sixty years later, I still maintain contact with two of them from my Church of England infant school, and thanks to Facebook I keep in contact with too many to mention from my grammar school in Bingley.

"My mother's family arrived in England way back in the 1500s, with a genealogy history from Delft, Holland, where my ancestor built Delft's first synagogue. My mother moved to Bradford, opened its first Marks & Spencer, and met my father there, a German Jew who had escaped to England in 1935. He subsequently joined the war effort and fought for Britain in Berlin. He chose to settle in Bradford since it was known as a textile town, even having been called "Little Germany".

"My mother, then president of the Bradford branch of WIZO, taught me to give back to the community, which I first did as a Brownie – a junior Girl Scout. After that, my volunteering began in earnest in 1972 when I came to Israel to work on Kibbutz Sarid for three months. I returned the following year for another three months of volunteering on Kibbutz Shefayim. Finally, in 1975, I volunteered at the Tel Aviv Mothercraft Training and Child Care Center, before returning to England per my parents' wishes, where I began my training at Mt. Vernon and Harefield Hospitals in Middlesex, for my chosen profession, nursing.

"After completing my training as a nurse, I realized my heart was still in Israel, but due to unfortunate circumstances, including the passing of my father, it wasn't until 1981 that I first brought my mother to Israel, and she loved it. That was when I knew I could settle here. I made aliyah in December 1982, with my first home in the Kfar Saba Absorption Center.

"Thirty years later, I am the proud mother of a daughter who, like me, is a nurse, working in Beilinson Hospital and training to become a clinical tutor for geriatrics, and a son, a graduate of Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, and working as a civil engineer. Both children had problems to overcome and attended special educational institutions, but the outcome speaks for itself.

"Two years ago I was diagnosed with the big C, had part of my liver removed, and was advised to retire after 45 years of nursing. My retirement was my opportunity to return to volunteering."

ESRA has many volunteers like Ruth, including IDC student volunteers, all giving back to the community, spending their time making friendly phone calls, and encouraging and reminding people to renew their membership. Membership fees are an important element in ESRA's ability to keep making a positive difference in so many people's lives. Aside from giving you discounts to lectures, films and a range of events, as well as delivery of ESRA magazine, your membership renewal makes a real difference.

So next time you get a call asking if you'd like to renew your membership, you'll know a bit more about who's calling. And if it's not Ruth, you can always have a friendly conversation and find out about who your caller is.

Or as Ruth told us, "My mother used to say, 'Ruth, behave yourself! You never know who is behind a name'." 



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Sunday, 21 July 2024

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