Since the lockdown was put into place in Israel, families have been kept apart from loved ones in nursing homes. Grandchildren can’t visit. Children can’t hug parents. Spouses can’t sit side-by-side. We all know how hard it is; we’re living it too.
To lessen the pain of separation, UJA’s largest overseas partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and their social housing subsidiary, Amigour, came up with an ingenious solution.
A crane was placed outside a senior residence, and family members were lifted up to terraces where their loved ones waited, so for the first time in weeks they could see parents, grandparents, husbands, and wives face-to-face.
The video captures what we know and love about Israel — the caring and resilience, and the “who-could-have-thought-of-this” creativity. Once you wipe away your tears, you’ll notice something else, too. One of the families is from Argentina, another from Ukraine. The story of Israel is also about the diversity of the Jewish people who have all found their way back home.
We had a much-welcomed opportunity to celebrate that story on Wednesday, which was Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The Jewish Federations of North America hosted a virtual event with an extraordinary 100,000 viewers tuning in, because not even a global pandemic would stand in the way of celebrating the miracle of Israel at 72. There was beautiful music; Israeli and American stars, including Shira Haas (of Shtisel and Unorthodox fame) and the Platt Brothers; well-wishes from 30 countries around the world; reflections on Israel’s rich history; and falafel (that I can only imagine tasted as good as it looked).
When we talk about celebrating Israel, we often say that every day, every year of these 72 years has been a miracle. We take none of it for granted.
Now, in these days of separation, when for the first time in many of our lives we can’t visit Israel and a crane is the only way to safely see a loved one face-to-face, we have a newfound appreciation for life as it was. Never again will even a hug be taken for granted when we all come together — next year in Jerusalem.