Grapevine: ESRA branches out to Yokne’am

A round up of news from around the country.

Melabev organisation, Jerusalem (photo credit: MELABEV ORGANISATION)
Melabev organisation, Jerusalem
■ It's amazing how many English-speaking groups there are in Israel, given that so many native English speakers are fluent in Hebrew and don’t need to socialize in an English-speaking milieu. But there’s something about one’s mother tongue that has an almost inexplicable pull, and one therefore finds immigrants from English-speaking countries who have been in Israel for 20, 30 and 40 years still joining English-speaking clubs and organizations and, where possible, working in jobs in which English is paramount.
A very strong example of this is ESRA, the English Speaking Residents Association, which is one of the veteran organizations of this kind. Sometimes members move to other towns or cities where there is no such group but there are more than a handful of people whose first language is English, and they quickly start a new nucleus. Sometimes the initiative comes from those without an ESRA background simply because they’re looking to become integrated into their new community.
A case in point is Mimi Semuha, a long-time resident of Safed who moved to Yokne’am, where she had difficulty making friends. She shared her frustration with her close friend Janet Kiesari, who happens to be ESRA’s Southern Regional Branch coordinator and chair of ESRA Rishon Lezion. On hearing Semuha’s tale of woe, Kiesari suggested that she might like to start an ESRA branch in Yokne’am. It was a good way to meet other residents and to make new friends, she said. And so a meeting was held with the result that ESRA Yokne’am was formally launched last week.
Participants learned of ESRA’s various programs and were particularly interested in providing a social network for local Anglos, as well as becoming involved in ESRA’s English Tutoring Program, a project that has attracted some 300 volunteers, most recently in Jerusalem where ESRA is a relative newcomer. The program originally started as a means of helping matriculation students with their English oral examination. Volunteers coordinate with the head of the English department, where they are given guidelines for conversation with the students. The program has been so successful that it has been extended to include elementary schools.
Anyone interested in joining ESRA Yokne’am should contact Mimi Semuha at 054-564-2174.
■ A recent television documentary highlighted the financial lengths that parents go to in giving their children memorable birthday parties, with luxury components that most children would not have even imagined a decade or two ago. But today, keeping up with the Joneses, Cohens and Levys is par for the course, with the essential challenge being not to just keep up with them but to surpass them. If an ordinary birthday party becomes a luxury event, a bar or bat mitzva is even more so.
But there are exceptions to the rule; for instance, the bat mitzva of Hila Almaliach. Had she wanted to, Hila could have gotten a fancy dress, been made up by a professional cosmetician, and had her hair done by the best hairdresser in town. But she wanted to give pleasure to people who don’t see too many children these days – senior citizens with fading mental faculties who are in the care of Melabev. Hila volunteers at one of the Melabev Day Care Centers, and that’s where she decided she would celebrate her bat mitzva.
Accordingly, her immediate family, other relatives and friends who support her initiative came to join in the celebration and add a little spice to the lives of the Melabev regulars, which included dancing with them. An interesting aspect of the experience was that while the people at Melabev may not remember what they had for dinner, they haven’t forgotten how to dance.
■ When they got together for a farewell performance in Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv in August 2013, the seemingly immortal Kaveret pop-rock band said it would be their final appearance together. But the truth is that they just cannot say goodbye. The band, headed by Danny Sanderson, broke up in 1976 after close to four intensive years of gigs and albums, but its members came together again several times, with a first reunion in 1984, another in 1990, then again in 1998 and 2000 – but in 2013 they said it was the end of the road and that they would not be performing together again. Famous last words.
A little grayer, a little balder, a paunch here and there, but still in top form, Sanderson, Gidi Gov, Efraim Shamir and Alon Olearchik will join forces with Mazi Cohen in an afternoon concert on Friday, May 15 at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv. Members of the group, which was originally much larger, have appeared from time to time as duos or trios or even separately on the same program, such as last year at the Rishon Lezion Music Festival. But this time, Kaveret, or Beehive as it translates into English, is buzzing again as a group.