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Reaching Out From Isolation: Israeli Seniors Support Each Other and Stay Safe

A few months ago, together with a few other Dror Israel educators, I established a group for senior citizens that meets once a week in Rishon Letzion. We’ve done all kinds of things together so far: exercise, bonding, games, celebrating holidays, and talking about Israeli society, and we even went on a nature trip together. Pictured: the group in normal times.

Most of the group members have been active since retirement as volunteers in local schools and preschools, helping out kids and classes who need it the most. They’re used to being active and contributing members of society.

With schools closed and anyone over 65 recommended not to leave the house at all, the seniors are trying to pass the time at home, while staying in touch with friends and family, to varying degrees of success.

In Dror Israel, last week we started working with the Rishon Letzion municipality to help in any way we can. A lot of the help needed is to call seniors throughout the city with various questions, requests and updates, and to ask them how they’re doing and whether they need anything. I started thinking that perhaps some of our little group of seniors might be interested in helping out as well.

I called one woman and she seemed to be in good spirits, keeping herself busy at home, with everything she needs. She gladly accepted the task and got to work efficiently calling her list of 10.

I called another woman from the group and immediately when I heard her voice I could tell that she wasn’t at her best. She lives alone, her children live abroad, and she’s really feeling the loneliness stuck at home. After asking me lots of questions, she agreed to make calls, too, and got right to work. Two hours later, she called me to say she was done with the list, and told me that she really enjoyed it, felt useful, and even though it was supposedly to help others – the task really raised her spirits. I should let her know as soon as I have another task for her. The difference in her voice was palpable.

The coronavirus and the drastic steps necessary to slow its spread are hitting society’s most vulnerable so hard – financially, socially, and psychologically. I’m glad that we’ve found a way to help some of our seniors, by coming together and helping them help others.

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