About 190,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel, and for many of them, their sense of loneliness was a major challenge even before the coronavirus pandemic forced them into self-isolation. As the restrictions geared toward containing the pandemic forced this week’s Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) activities to take place exclusively online, their sense of isolation and sadness grew even more acute.
Yachad Program coordinators across Israel set out to show these men and women that they have not been forgotten behind their closed doors. They harnessed the power of local teen volunteers to bring survivors flowers, letters thanking them for their bravery and for building the country – and a virtual hug.
“There was a knock at the door, and at first I was afraid to open,” said Michael Lumkin of Bat Yam. “But the lovely young woman explained that she wasn’t going to come in and put us at risk but just wanted to give us a special gift. It’s not easy for us to stay home all the time, and there is no end in sight. It was nice to feel appreciated.”
The young woman in question – 18 year old Liat Badihi – said that like many of the survivors she visited, the Lumkins were first bewildered and then overcome with emotion. “I started out by thinking that I would help them, but in the end I think I actually got more out of it than they did,” she said.