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Men Should Attend ESRA Lectures

 This morning, I attended an ESRA lecture given by Anat Gueta on the subject of Patriotism and Poetry in the works of Leah Goldberg, given in English, attended mostly by women. If I were a "mature" male newcomer to Israel or still living in the Diaspora, I might never have attended such a lecture. Yet, it was an amazing lecture, as I got a deeper insight into the fascinating development of this country and Anat, like so many Israelis, is a brilliant lecturer.

I have given much thought to why men generally come only to specific lectures on specific subjects. It is definitely not because the lectures are uninteresting. In reality, the name and subject of the lecture is just a jumping off point for discovering the infinite facets reflected in this country.

My wife Norma and I have been living in Israel for the last 50 years. We basically grew up here, when there was hardly anything here. But what there most obviously were so many very industrious, imaginative and friendly people with a built-in wisdom. The Israeli army, the melting pot of our country, is also very different from other armies. I once didn't believe I would ever see Israeli soldiers dressed in neat uniforms marching on a parade ground in unison. But what we did at the time was far, far out of the box. For me, as a newcomer, the IDF was a very enlightening and exciting experience.

For example, after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, many new sergeants were needed. I ended up on a sergeant's course because I arrived at the army base after work, by which time they only needed one more sergeant and I was the last candidate.

The following year, on my first day of reserve duty, I was busy sewing on my brand new stripes (which I had to buy myself), when one of the officers asked me what I was doing. I told him and his answer was if the soldiers didn't know I was their new sergeant, those stripes were not going to help me much. They were never sewn on.

After working at IBM for 25 years fixing main-frame systems, I decided at 52 to change to something else more interesting in the high-tech field. So I became a technical writer and worked with phenomenally brilliant people at companies that were busy changing the world. Because I was technically-minded I was often invited to R&D meetings. People would come up with the strangest ideas and within minutes, those muddy thoughts would become the basis for a new project or a solution for a current problem.

So what has what I have just written have to do with the ESRA lectures, and all of you?

I am talking about mature late-comers to the country, who have very cleverly decided to come and live here. You now live in a very different land with a different culture where your local shul and old friends are definitely not enough for you to take advantage of what this land has to offer us all.

I therefore think a good start is to take a chance and come to ESRA English lectures, whatever the subject. Think of each lecture as a new experience, opening you up to a deeper understanding of our country and its people. It will widen your understanding of how and why this country has become the startup nation. Where you are now living, the best is definitely yet to come.



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Sunday, 28 May 2023

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