Kishorit Coronavirus Update

Below is an update from Kishorit, one of our longstanding grantee organizations. I encourage you to read it despite its length as they seem to be handling the pandemic quite well.

Kim Salzman

I hope you are healthy and adjusting as easily as possible to our new global reality. When I first reached out to you in March, I never envisioned that 5 months later we would still be facing the immense challenges posed by Covid-19.  In Israel, we are fighting a very serious second wave of Coronavirus.  As Corona reaches every community in Israel, and as morbidity rates and anxiety levels rise, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure the physical safety and emotional well-being of our members. Early on, we understood that loneliness and isolation could be just as deadly for our members as the virus.  We needed to find a way to preserve the social fabric of our community.  In consultation with a team of infectious disease specialists, we made some initial adjustments to our employment centers and leisure time facilities, and now we have decided to test the entire Kishorit community for Coronavirus every ten days.  Although this has placed a heavy burden on all of our staff, particularly our nursing staff, it has allowed us to adhere to the strictest disease prevention protocols while preserving the members’ desperately needed daily routine. In this time of immense stress and uncertainty, going to work together and sharing leisure time activities is an absolute necessity, and a special blessing.

For me, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been watching the Kibbutz Kishor members embrace and support the Kishorit members.  Being integrated into a larger community has given the Kishorit members an unparalleled sense of safety, security and comfort.  I, personally, have drawn enormous strength from my neighbors and friends, and from the feeling that we are truly all in this together.

In addition to the immediate impact that Corona is having on our members, it is having a financial impact on our businesses and community.  Our dog kennel, which is usually full during summer vacation, is virtually empty. Our estate winery, which generally hosts groups and sells wine to restaurants, has temporarily shut its doors to the public.  With restaurants closed and sales down, we have made the difficult decision to sell some of our grapes from this August’s harvest to another winery.  Aside from the loss of revenue, we estimate that the increased costs of personal protective equipment and sanitizing necessary to keep our businesses running until December 2020 will be $100,000.

In spite of the pandemic, the rhythm of life continues to hum in Kishorit. There are moments of great joy, and moments of great sorrow.  Over the past few months, one of our members underwent a successful kidney transplant, while another member was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and began chemotherapy treatments.  On a national level, tensions have flared on the Lebanese border, not far from Kishorit, and we are constantly reminded that our simple lives are fragile.  Through all of the ups and downs, we feel very blessed to have you as part of our extended community.  Your outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming, and is not taken for granted. I can’t wait until the travel restrictions are over and I will be able to see you in person once again.  Until then, please accept a socially distanced hug and my deepest thanks for all that you continue to do for Kishorit. With love, respect and gratitude.

Shuki Levinger

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