On Holocaust Remembrance Day, ZAKA Search and Rescue called on the public to call the elderly and lonely every day to check-up on them, after multiple elderly Israelis were found dead in their homes.
On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the decaying body of an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor was found in her Beersheba home after she fell and died on the eve of Passover over a week beforehand.
In Petah Tikva, ZAKA volunteers were called to an apartment where a woman suffering from mental illness was trying to comfort and feed her 70-year-old mother who had passed away over a week before.
"We, the ZAKA volunteers, say enough! No more!" said ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. "This is a ticking time bomb. The elderly and those living alone are so vulnerable, especially at this time. Just one call a day could save a life. Now, with the government decision that those aged 67 and above must continue to stay at home to stay safe from possible infection with coronavirus, they are facing continued isolation, with no visitors allowed."
Those who would benefit from regular contact or know someone who would benefit from regular contact can share their contact details with ZAKA and a volunteer will make daily phone calls to keep in touch. Volunteers are available even for those who don't speak Hebrew. "We will ensure that they are not forgotten," said Meshi-Zahav.
ZAKA volunteers have handled 35 incidents so far in 2020 in which those living alone have died alone. In 2019, 130 people died alone.
Those interested in sharing contact details with ZAKA can fill out this form.
Gesher MK Orly Levy-Abecassis spoke about the two elderly woman who were found dead at the Knesset plenum on Tuesday, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"Last week, we heard about a 70-year-old woman who was found dead in her apartment after a number of days when no one knew about her except for her daughter who is mentally ill and dealing with other issues of understanding who sat next to her for days trying to feed her and wake her up almost like in the story about loneliness and humanity 'All of Life before Him,' the story of Momo and Roza, the same elderly Holocaust survivor who raised the children of others...Last night, they found another elderly person, 89-years-old, who was a Holocaust survivor, lonely, who was a doctor in hospitals in Israel and a lecturer and it turns out that she had already passed away on the eve of Passover, but this loneliness takes a precious toll and until the smell rose they didn't know about this most terrible thing," said Levy-Abecassis.
The MK quoted a part of the story "All of Life before Him," reading "When they broke open the door to see where it came from and saw me sitting there next to her they began to shout 'Help! The horror!' but before they didn't think to shout, because life has no smell."
The story continues, "And indeed, it seems that to these 'miserable lives' there is no smell in their lives that will attract the attention of the fair people of human society who want to help and aid. Only the smell of decay of this miserable life who died and the horrifying sight of a youth who refuses to leave the body of the woman who loved him, raised him and taught him in a world of hardship, poverty and anxiety - only these disturb and provoke the bourgeois representatives of the Parisian society. It seems that their cry of 'help!' is momentary and passing. When the stinking nuisance is removed, the world will return to how it was."
"The elderly are equal to everyone else, even if they are a little less than they were in the past," stressed Levy-Abecassis at the Knesset plenum. "They have feelings like you and me and sometimes they suffer from this more than we do because they already can't defend themselves. They're attacked by nature which can be a terrible villain and kill them slowly. In order that events like this not happen again, not in the Jewish State and not in any other normal society, it is on us to ensure that all the public and social services know about these elderly people, these people who are in need and alone. Loneliness kills and it does so mercilessly."