Hope and solidarity

The size of the IDF’s effort is immense: 1.6 million food packages were made for the week of Passover, and 118,000 were delivered in one day.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Undertakes Historic Effort to Provide Passover Meals for 215,000 Worldwide During Coronavirus Pandemic  (photo credit: 2020 IFCJ)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Undertakes Historic Effort to Provide Passover Meals for 215,000 Worldwide During Coronavirus Pandemic
(photo credit: 2020 IFCJ)
The story of Mishel Zrian is heartwarming. The volunteer organ courier has been spending most of his time in airports since the pandemic began, helping deliver much-needed bone marrow. Through this volunteer work, donations continue to move around the world. It is but one example of the extraordinary efforts people are making to help one another during this crisis.
Our lives have been fundamentally transformed in a few short weeks, from March to early April, with fear of the pandemic, uncertainty about livelihoods, and questions of when life will return to a semblance of normalcy. Families have been ripped apart as international travel ground to a halt. People are in shock, and there are fears of spikes in depression and domestic violence.
However, many people have come together in extraordinary and inspiring acts of solidarity. This has been particularly true in Israel. Despite the political mess that continues to haunt the country, and the ongoing threats of terrorism, the citizens show that once again they know how to come together as a community.
The IDF has been at the forefront of helping people. Even special forces such as Shayetet 13 have helped develop a solution for civilians who are in need of oxygen tanks for medical reasons. In cooperation with Yad Sarah, they have been assisting in the delivery of the oxygen tanks. In just one night on April 5, a total of 50 tons of fruits and vegetables were packed for the people of Bnei Brak; 15,000 packages were delivered by the 98th Paratroop Division to families.
The size of the IDF’s effort is immense: 1.6 million food packages were made for the week of Passover, and 118,000 were delivered in one day. More than 10,000 blood donations have been made within the IDF.
The unique role of the IDF has also brought solidarity in communities that sometimes protest service in the army. For instance, in Beitar Illit the IDF helped carry out tests and brought food for people. The soldiers were said to find it meaningful and to have bonded with the people.
This is the true face of the beautiful Israel coming together to fight the virus. Rather than the usual scurrilous tales of incitement, and baseless hatred, which too often afflict this country, when there is a real crisis Israel knows how to act as one. This is a lesson that we can learn from.
The pandemic came at us quickly. Just weeks ago people were in parks with families, planning their Passovers and going about their normal lives. To adjust, local acts of kindness have sprouted up. People buy food for their vulnerable neighbors. There are people putting their singing talents to work on balconies and transitioning their skills to webinars or Zoom calls and online meetings.
The same national devotion can be found at universities, labs and factories across the country. Many companies have pitched in to find innovative ways to aid with technologies that can benefit the sick. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for example, announced on Sunday that they have developed a method of testing for COVID-19 which is faster than other tests.
High above our heads, Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir also helped by offering advice on how to stay mentally healthy while being in isolation. Locals have banded together to support doctors, musicians put out songs for Magen David Adom, doctoral students have volunteered to support the fight against the virus. Russian-speakers have formed a group to help immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and groups that support asylum-seekers and the elderly have stepped up their efforts to help vulnerable communities.
When we think of all that is negative and difficult in this time, we should be proud to know that when this crisis began, our society acted with solidarity to help the weak and vulnerable. Sometimes we need a crisis to see the beautiful side of our country. We can hope that when this crisis subsides, the sense of solidarity will not go with it.