“We stand in solidarity with Italy paying a heavy toll in its combat against the coronavirus outbreak,” said a top Israeli official on Saturday.
On Saturday, Yuval Rotem, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented, “We watch Italy’s brave standing with awe and wish all good health.”
“[Israel] stands in solidarity with Italy paying a heavy toll in its combat against the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.
Italy has become the epicenter of the corona outbreak in the world, the entire country is in a complete lockdown and is experiencing a death toll of hundreds of people.
As Italy grapples with the novel coronavirus, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog, and Chairman of Keren Hayesod, Sam Grundwerg, spoke with leaders of the country’s Jewish communities in Rome and Milan to voice their solidarity.
The community leaders described the challenges and threats they are facing and their immediate needs.
The President of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Durgello, shared her community’s fears surrounding the global pandemic, a reality she described as “the worst situation we have faced since World War II.”
“We are in a state of complete uncertainty. We are trying to stabilize the situation but there is tremendous anxiety here about the danger of a complete collapse. General morale is very low. We know there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we don’t know how long the tunnel is,” she said.
With a population of some 15,000, Rome is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.
Meanwhile, the President of Milan’s Jewish community, Milo Hasbani, described the measures taken in order to maintain calm.
“Our schools and nursing homes have been shut for three weeks. We are organizing various support channels to help community members, especially elderly people who are in quarantine and can’t go food shopping. We are setting up distance learning for the children, investing in disinfectants and preparing the community’s security team for any scenario,” he said.
Herzog and Grundwerg penned a letter stating that “all of Israel is responsible for one another” and that the organizations are teaming up to pledge their support during this difficult time.
The two organizations have established a special team to immediately analyze the Italian community’s most urgent needs.
The Jewish Agency announced that it is “working on assisting the community on three levels to meet their needs: assisting nursing homes, setting up distance-learning infrastructure for children and teachers who are quarantined and helping the communities set up a hotline to help those in quarantine.”
In the meantime, Karen Hayesod and the Jewish Agency are awaiting a full list of the community’s needs and will be providing further assistance.
“I urge our parallel Jewish organizations and Jewish communities worldwide to mobilize, given the extent of the need,” Herzog stated.
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