Grapevine: Citizen care

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

An elderly woman walks through a corridor of a retirement home as visits have been restricted due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns, in Grevenbroich (photo credit: REUTERS)
An elderly woman walks through a corridor of a retirement home as visits have been restricted due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns, in Grevenbroich
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Although there are claims by Defense Ministry and IDF top brass that the army is better equipped than the Health Ministry for mass organization, there is plenty of evidence to show that ad hoc citizens’ organizations, community centers and synagogue groups are no less efficient. This is best seen in the volunteers who have gone out of their way to go shopping and to do other errands for senior citizens and other people who are currently housebound.
Elias Messinas, who is part of the management of the Ginat Ha’Ir Community Center, has sent out a notice to residents who are registered there, asking for assistance in creating a community network to care for neighbors who need help – elderly immigrants, people living on their own, etc.
“The task is not simple,” he wrote. “We need to reach out to nearly 5,000 people in need!”
He goes on to explain that there is no need to enter their homes, or to come in contact with them, only to keep an eye open for those that may need help in your building or street, and to advise the center’s management. “We will take care of the rest.”
For questions about what to do or simply to fulfill the need to talk to someone, people living in the German Colony, Baka, Katamon and surrounds are asked to call 050-239-4678.
A resident of the German Colony is full of praise for Ginot Ha’Ir, which sent her “a lovely young man who did most of my grocery shopping on a bike and didn’t ask for money until it was delivered.”
While radio and television commercials encourage the public to order deliveries from supermarkets by phone or via social media outlets, deliveries often take from three days to two weeks, even though the powers-that-be have asked for special consideration for senior citizens.
Late deliveries are bad enough, but some supermarkets are taking advantage of the situation and are sending items that were not ordered and omitting items that were ordered. The items they send are more expensive. This practice is illegal according to the Israel Consumer Council, as is a minimum order demand for a stipulated sum of money.
Even more disturbing than the late deliveries and the overcharging are the unscrupulous people who due to the emphasis that was made on people having solo Seders this year, became more aware that many individuals over the age of 50, especially women, live alone.
This is a great temptation for criminal types who pretend to deliver food or say they have come to conduct coronavirus tests.
Examples of two such cases in Jerusalem paint an unsavory picture:
• In the first case, a woman living alone in the Old City received a knock on her door late at night. When she asked who it was, a male voice answered that he was delivering food to her. When she said that she hadn’t ordered any, the reply was that someone had sent it to her. When she asked him to tell her who had sent it or what was the name of the intended recipient, he refused to answer. She wisely refused to open the door and in the end he went away.
• In the second case, a couple of men came to the home of a married couple in their 70s and said that they had been instructed by the Health Ministry to perform a corona test. Both the husband and wife have medical backgrounds and something about the way the men spoke to them aroused their suspicions. So they called the Health Ministry to check and were told that no one had been authorized to come to their home to test them.
Similar stories from other sources are floating around. It is therefore advisable to put the police phone number 100 and Magen David Adom 101 in your list of telephone contacts, and to refrain from opening the door to anyone unless you know who that person is.
■ THERE CAN be good news even in the midst of the coronavirus. Two Jerusalemites are among the four finalists in the non-fiction category of the prestigious Sami Rohr Prize for literature that is awarded annually by the New York headquartered Jewish Book Council.
The two Jerusalemites are Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz for his book Shadow Strike (St. Martin’s Press), and Benjamin Balint, a research fellow at the Van Leer Institute for his book Kafka’s Last Trial (W.W.Norton).
The winner will be announced in May.
The date for the presentation ceremony has yet to be announced. The literary prizes for fiction and non-fiction are presented in alternating years in Jerusalem and New York.
The most recent ceremony in Jerusalem was held at the end of July 2018 at Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
Jerusalem was again scheduled to be the venue for the award ceremony this year.
■ JERUSALEM VENTURE Capital founder Erel Margalit is now intent on saving global health systems, and is organizing global virtual events with international experts who discuss means of protecting hospital staff and other medical teams, look for solutions to address the need for medical equipment, medicines and food supplies, advancing telemedicine and establishing creative emergency facilities. Margalit is confident that the economy will recover faster than anticipated. The current situation provides opportunities for medical scientists and hi-tech people to find a solution not only for coronavirus but also to find solutions for other problems, he says.