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We’ve got Mail 193

Temple Court, Cathedral Road, Cardiff, Wales, seen from the west. Completed in 1897 as Cardiff United Synagogue but is now a secular office building. Photo credit: Josie Campbell via Wikimedia Commons

 Welsh Jews seek to trace history of their 250-year-old community

An appeal has been launched by the recently formed Jewish History Association of South Wales, based in Cardiff, to trace the history and heritage of the community over the past 250 years.

Founders of the group are busy raising funds, also by crowdfunding and hopeful of support from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund, in order to continue with the initial work and retain the services of an experienced project manager.

Through the readership of ESRA Magazine, hopefully Welsh-Israeli folk would like to help in this important project by providing archival material. The founding committee led by Chairman David Lermon, would welcome photographs and personal family histories and can be contacted at: David This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lydia Aisenberg (a Greenberg from Caerphilly/YstradMynach)
Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek

Follow my leader: The next generation give their thanks to ESRA

The Sderot Young Leaders (SYL) are a group of talented and motivated teenagers aged 13-18, who study at Gutviert High School in Sderot. It was founded by a group of students, who at the height of the rocketing on their city in 2007-8, decided to act to improve themselves and "Catalyze Community Change". [As documented in the excellent article by Adele Rubin in ESRA magazine #189.]

Ten years later, a new generation of young leaders has emerged. They have expanded the group's activity and are determined not not only to survive, but to thrive. This year, ESRA has decided to join forces with these motivated teens and to upgrade their capabilities.

Presently the Debate Team, coached by an ESRA-sponsored professional coach, Brian Grossman, a new oleh, is preparing for regional and national competitions.

ESRA also sponsors the transportation for the Model UN Team to training sessions and to the Timemun conference at the American International School in Even Yehuda.

Additionally, we will be starting an ESRA-sponsored weekly English class for the leaders of the SYL Computer /Robotic Department, to enhance their communication skills.

All SYL members pledge to participate in community volunteer projects. In order to increase the volume and effectiveness of their efforts, ESRA is sponsoring our coordinator Liat Ben Eliahu, who will coordinate the volunteering projects. Liat has already begun to strengthen the connection between the SYL, the Municipal Volunteering Department and the Municipal Youth Department.

For all this and "the more to come" as our partnership grows, we want to extend a giant THANK YOU from me, and especially from all our kids, who are keen on sharing with you what they do and showing their appreciation in person.

Herb Levine
Ramat Hasharon

How overseas voters can register in forthcoming U.S. Federal Elections

Since 1986, thanks to the US Congress, "Overseas Voters", no matter how long they lived outside of America, can register and vote absentee in Federal Elections.

Each state has their own voting laws, and primaries. Texas is the first with a date of March 6th, and Massachusetts the last, September 18th. General Elections for all states is November 6th. In order to vote, most states require a voter to register by a certain day. Texas' deadline was February 5th; while Massachusetts has no deadline. To find out how to register, and your state's election date and deadline open the link ~

Voting questions? You can refer to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Andee Goldman

Are the number of electric bike accidents being suppressed?

Reading the letter from Hertzel Katz about the electric bikes in the last edition of ESRA magazine #192, I can very much empathize with what he wrote.

In fact any visitor to Israel would naturally assume that based on what they see, cyclists are not allowed to wear helmets, are encouraged to speak on their phones, encouraged to take passengers, forbidden to drive on roads, and only allowed to use the pavements.

Walking on the streets in Tel Aviv is like getting a free ride on the dodgem cars at the fair, only more dangerous.

I would be really interested to know the number of accidents caused by electric bikes but it seems to be suppressed for some reason. This being Israel it must be political.

Stanley Canning
Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi

My first port of call for advertisers . . .

As a volunteer distributor and regular reader, I look forward to and enjoy the ESRA magazine. Not only are there many good articles and person-info, but the advertisements are also extremely useful. Whenever a problem occurs, I always look first at the advertisements in ESRA magazine before I look in other sources. More often than not, this has proved very satisfying and many problems have been successfully solved whether it is car repairs, furniture fixing, something electronic or whatever.

So thank you for the good work in editing and getting excellent, reliable, user-friendly companies to advertise.

Werner Bachmann

Ambassador's salute to those who made Haifa their home

I had a most pleasant meeting with the Haifa ESRA group. A long drive from Kochav Yair. Their journey to Israel was longer.

Whilst I spoke I felt myself thinking that if an attentive writer could have combined the personal stories of all the men and women who listened to my story in Haifa we would have been presented with a breath-taking tale of life of the Romance of Jews of the last hundred years, when life itself had to be on the move in order to survive.

These English Speaking residents made Haifa their home where they finally anchored for good after crossing Nazi Germany, after reaching the coasts of England with the Kindertransport, after trying Australia where they struggled to shake off the base stupid refugee identities that the locals -all refugees of yesteryear-clad them with; some from Romanian labor camps, all with what betrays rational minds-a dream to become Israelis because this was finally why they came to this earth.

I listened to this one combined story that threatens to go into oblivion when we are all gone. What a miss, everyday young Israelis, what a miss, and you don't even know

Many thanks Haifa ESRA, you were wonderful.

Yitzchak Mayer

Children from Ethiopia and Russia enjoying themselves in 1994A summer camp organized by ESRA for new immigrants from Ethiopiaand the Former Soviet Union on the caravan site of Hatzrot Yasaf, near Acco

Taking pride in a project that was ground-breaking

Few may remember how this groundbreaking project of a pre-school enrichment center for Ethiopian and Russian kindergarten children was to become a flagship for ESRA (ESRAmagazine #192).

As one of the first non-governmental organizations to respond to the waves of immigration with creative solutions to the diverse problems and issues raised, ESRA enlisted a formidable cadre of volunteers with experience, professionalism, creativity and commitment. The result of these efforts were numerous models for projects initiated and developed by ESRA which were then adopted by government ministries, local authorities, and the Jewish Agency.

ESRA members should take pride in our legacy of pioneering social and community development projects throughout Israel.

Liz Trakeniski

What an amazing coincidence!

On a recent visit to Eilat we went to hear our friend Fonda Dubb, an active

ESRA member, give a talk about World War II to the local WIZO English Speakers Club.

On the spot Fonda and I wrote about the amazing experience we had had at a similar WIZO meeting in Eilat more than ten years ago. I had wanted to write about it for years in memory of three Jewish soldiers who fought in that War.

At that WIZO meeting for locals and visitors standing around having refreshments, in a casual conversation, three men discovered that they had all fought at Monte Cassino in Italy, one of the most important military operations of World War II. They were Boykie Tobias from South Africa, Irvine Brenner, an American ex-marine, both residents of Eilat, and a visitor from Tel Aviv, Alec Slonim, a retired senior IDF officer who had served in the Jewish Brigade in Europe.

The battle started on January 17,1944 by the allies whose mission it was to break down German defenses to liberate Rome. They were successful after four bloody engagements.

Then came the punch line: Boykie asked Alec, the Israeli, if he had ever been to South Africa. Alec answered that he had been there on a secret mission for Zahal to purchase a farm to carry out weapon tests. Whereupon Boykie said that it was his farm in Hout Bay and that the payment had enabled his aliyah to Israel.

We were stunned.

Adele Rubin

This is a headache we could have done without when we went abroad

After taking out Full Travel Insurance, one would expect to be fully covered for all eventualities that are normally covered. We never thought that if you are travelling overseas, you should have funds available to lay out if the insurance company takes its time processing the claim. To be discharged from an overseas hospital the bill must be settled or accepted to be paid by the insurer. Ideally, you should have sufficient funds available should there be a delay with your insurer, as in our case, the hospital was not prepared to accept an overseas credit card.

In my opinion, the important point is that ideally you should take out the cover via your Medical Aid Society as they have all the medical records available and there is no way they can argue about non-disclosure etc. I have always insured through my Medical Aid Society, but these days, Maccabi refers you to their insurance company. I did exactly that. The insurance lady instead of just taking the details for my travel insurance proceeded to try and sell me an accident policy. She reminded me that I was 74 1/2 and that it was a pity I was not accepting this special offer. She insisted on knowing why I wasn't and would not give up so I was forced to ring off.

My travel agent had been trying to sell me the cover for our family of seven (four adults and three children). As she had arranged separate special insurance for my accommodation, I decided to use her as she had booked our tickets and accommodation and had all the I.D.s, the agesand other dataneeded.She asked if anyone took regular medication. My wife and I, like most people of our age, are on medication so the premium was to be loaded. We accepted that and were given the premiums for two adults on medication, two younger adults and three children, none of whom are on permanent medication nor had they been hospitalized during the previous six months.

I remember that in years gone by, there was a questionnaire about medical complaints that included hospitalization, operations and what medication was being taken. In this case, after saying we were on medication, there were no questions about what medication and nothing was signed. When dealing by telephone with insurance companies, calls are recorded so it is possible to follow up what was said. Sitting at a desk, when it comes to the crunch, it's anyone's word.

No policy was given to me, just an Invoice/Receipt with a contact number in case of a claim. I forgot to ask for the policy but when dealing with a large insurance company you should not need to study the cover as it should be adequate and in any case they should automatically supply the policy.

Now to the event: My granddaughter, aged 8, was hospitalized in Holland and was not able to travel back with us so we arranged that her dad would stay over with her and that the rest of the family would fly back home. We made contact from Holland with IMA Assistance in Israel (the contact given to us) and they sent an email to us in Holland asking for the email and fax number of the hospital as they wanted to send an acknowledgement of acceptance of liability to settle the hospital bill. After sending them the information and not receiving a reply, we contacted them again and they reneged on this, maintaining that they were still awaiting authorization from the insurance company as to whether to accept the claim because of apparent "non-disclosure". When I called them to question this they said their email had been sent in advance just to have the information available so that there would be no further delays after the insurance acceptance. As far as I am concerned, their email asking for hospital details to remit their undertaking should have been binding. They said we must send the money from Israel to enable the hospital discharge and the insurance company would decide whether to refund or reject the claim. We were forced to lay out the money and make the transfer from Israel to Holland.

The reason for the delay of two months for the refund of the money laid out was that we had not disclosed that for the past 18 months the child appears to suffer from a syndrome which is a variant of a migraine. She is not on medication and has the attacks once every three to four months and to date each attack had lasted one day only without hospitalization. In this case, the hospital specialist physician maintained that it was probably a virus which had caused the condition and then brought on the syndrome as it continued for a week in hospital.

Who would think that if you are not asked specific questions, you should disclose that you do periodically suffer from migraine or something similar?

My advice: Use an insurance agent who is properly trained and who will assist with any claim. If possible let them complete a questionnaire of all the medical data that is required and then sign so that you do not innocently omit anything that may be relevant or give a reason for them to renege on a payout.

It's easy to sell insurance, but when purchasing insurance do not give them an opportunity to refuse or delay a payout. We waited two months for the full refund and that to me is totally unacceptable. The question is what happens if one does not have the money to lay out?

I am pleased that they finally accepted the claim but I was prepared for my first court appearance in the Small Claims Court.

Alex Tolkin

Wonderful article took me on a 'magic carpet ride' back to my ancestors

I read an article in ESRA magazine # 168 by Anton Felton about a Persian Carpet (The Beth Tzedek Carpet) gifted to a Jewish Doctor in the 1890's in Iran. The Jewish doctor, Hakim Nourmahmood, was my great great grandfather!

My son is doing an ancestry research for his school and would very much like to contact Mr. Felton. We have found his book on Amazon and wonder if the carpet is mentioned in his books so that we can bring it to class. The article is, by the way, magnificent and true to the details, as my grandfather recounted the same exact story to me and my family!

Thank you.

Caroline Delijani
Los Angeles

P.S. A large group of Hakim Nourmahmoud's descendants live here in Los Angeles.

Dear Caroline Delijani,

Thank you so much for your email which ESRA magazine forwarded to me.

I'm ever amazed at the never-ending coincidences in life, events that statistically should hardly ever have happened – but seem to happen all the time.

I learned of the story of your great, great grandfather some twenty years ago from a long-departed U.K. Iranian Jewish carpet dealer.

Then, I was invited to lecture on Jewish carpets by a group of Iranian Jewish carpet people. Before and after the talk I chatted with a dozen or so of the organizers and academics focusing in on the older people as the stories of the next generation seemed more directed towards the state of the property market in Los Angeles!

To my shame, I have forgotten the name of the kindly elderly gentleman who confirmed the account exactly as I recorded it in my book. It may be that he was your father or grandfather who had confirmed that he had heard the account from Hacham Yedida Shofer.

There is one other edition of this carpet. I think it is likely to be a copy.

Now I have a favor to ask of you. Do you have any photos of your great, great grandfather or any ephemera? I've recently been asked to produce an updated edition of my book (I've learned so much in the last twenty years) and anything to add to this wonderful story of your amazing great, great grandfather would be appreciated by many.

Anton Felton
Herzliya, Israel

My ancestors have links to Spain, France, Germany, Ireland and also Australia

With reference to the above article by Carl Hoffman (ESRA magazine # 170), I am an Australian with mixed European ancestry. My surname was supposedly of Huguenots origin but Correll worldwide have a strong oral tradition that the family originated from the Navarre region. My grandfather told me of our origin. They left Navarre area roughly 500 years ago and settled in France. They become Huguenots but had to move on to Germany then were scattered all over the world. My family went to Ireland and then during 1850s they migrated to Australia! My grandfather had a peculiar habit that he does not eat pork and eats only fish on Friday night. I have been trying to connect between Irish Correll and Spanish Correll though the name spelling may vary.

Andrew Correll

Aliyah 100 list: Zelda sends a thank-you to ESRA members

Thank you ESRA members

I want to thank all of you who sent me greetings on the result of the aliyah 100 list of olim, who came from the UK during the years since the establishment of the State.

I do not know if you saw my blog in Times of Israel in which I gave thanks to many ESRA members who were also friends and colleagues. We all know that if not for those who support voluntary activities giving of their time and their money none of us would succeed in the causes that we esteem.

As I am an ESRA member since Merle Guttmann took the great step forward into the English speaking community in Israel, I have good memories of our mutual efforts particularly in Road Safety over the years. Also Meira Applebaum, Michael Hunter and others too many to mention, who were faithful and involved supporters also of my BIPAC (The British-Israel Public Affairs Centre*) activities, since we all shared an interest in Israel's image overseas.

The remarkable thing about us all and especially the women of the 35's was that we had been volunteers in the countries from which we originated and spoke the same language, literally!

Wishing you every success in 2018.

Zelda Harris
Tel Aviv

*The British-Israel Public Affairs Centre was established 1983. Zelda Harris was the founder and served as the director of BIPAC in Israel from 1983-1992. BIPAC became extinct in 1999. 



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