Monthly hikes are one of the many activities offered by the English Speakers Residents Association. (photo from ESRA)
The reasons for making aliyah are many, however, some of the big questions holding back potential olim (immigrants), especially those who are 50+ and are already settled, may include the following: “My Hebrew is almost nonexistent; what am I going to do with myself when I get to Israel?”
One of the ways to help solve these concerns is to join the English Speaking Residents Association (ESRA). My wife, Ida, and I are good examples. We made aliyah in June of 2016 from Toronto when we were in our early 60s. We had two immediate priorities: to find an English-speaking community to live in and to get involved in Israel by finding meaningful volunteer opportunities. Fortunately, we found ESRA.
ESRA was founded some 40 years ago. It has about 2,700 members in 21 different chapters in north, south and central Israel, stretching from Eilat to Nahariya and beyond. The members come from North America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. The programming, all of which takes place in English, encompasses social activities, outings (when conditions permit), educational mentoring and tutoring programs, charitable and welfare activities and volunteering. In addition, and because of COVID-19, a majority of the social activities, talks, visual tours and cooking classes have been and will continue to be presented on Zoom.
ESRA is not just for those planning on making aliyah. Many people living abroad want to be able to see and hear about Israel generally and/or participate in English-language programs and ESRA’s calendar features talks on a range of topics, from finance, current events, history, the environment and entertainment, as well as clubs, such as bridge, photography and knitting. These programs are accessible around the world and, of course, people can join in ESRA programs when visiting Israel – the group’s monthly hikes have recently restarted.
For more information on ESRA, visit esra.org.il.
– Courtesy English Speakers Residents Association