Amigour | The Jewish Agency - U.S.

With older adults at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19,

our staff immediately took precautions to protect residents at Amigour, a Jewish Agency subsidiary that provides housing for Holocaust survivors and senior citizens throughout Israel. As designated essential workers, Amigour staff continued to serve their elderly residents, implementing extra safety measures to ensure vulnerable seniors were taken care of and that their chances of contracting COVID were low.

7,000 Amigour residents continued to be cared for and stay safe during COVID at 56 sheltered living complexes across the state of Israel.

“We had to have difficult conversations with family members of our residents where we explained to them how important it is for them not to come to visit during this time… since the dangers of the elderly being exposed are very, very high,” said Erez Shani, Amigour’s Vice President of Resource Development.

“It was hard for the families to accept, but we explained that our staff will take care of the seniors’ needs, checking in on each resident frequently to ensure their well-being.”

In May, after the first lockdowns in Israel, The Jewish Agency arranged for a crane to be brought to Amigour so that residents could safely see their loved ones face-to-face. We also reached out to volunteers who were looking for ways to help during the pandemic. Their mission was to stave off loneliness and provide empathy with regular phone calls to the elderly.

Amigour staff ensured senior residents didn’t feel alone when visitors to the complex were restricted.
Amigour staff ensured senior residents didn’t feel alone when visitors to the complex were restricted.

During the pandemic, Amigour homes hosted 400 outdoor events, including concerts, dance classes and socially distanced Jewish holiday celebrations.

For the last five years, Valentin and his wife Catlina have lived in an Amigour apartment in Migdal HaEmek, in the Northern District of Israel. Valentin grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Jewish life was difficult and antisemitism was rampant. His passionate Zionism led him to buy a ticket to Israel to volunteer during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Later in life, Valentin served as Argentina’s Secretary of Aliyah at The Jewish Agency in Buenos Aires, and in 1998, he and Catlina made Aliyah themselves.

“I love it here. I feel very taken care of by The Jewish Agency. My life may have started out hard, but I persevered and contributed, and when you persevere and contribute, the world ends up paying it forward to you too,” he said.

During COVID, Valentin credits the nursing staff with making sure all residents had masks and frequently washed or sanitized their hands. He also appreciated how the Amigour staff arranged activities like balcony concerts, socially distanced dancing, exercise classes and more to help keep spirits up.

“Amigour held many concerts in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian for us, and l always sang along. They also found ways for us to connect with our families both online and in the courtyard, from a safe distance,” Valentin shared. “I’m very grateful to be alive and healthy today.” Read more about Valentin’s life in Argentina and at Amigour >

David Salem/Zoog Productions for The Jewish Agency for Israel
David Salem/Zoog Productions for The Jewish Agency for Israel

And despite COVID, at the end of 2020, construction of the Joseph Wilf Senior Citizens’ House, a new high-rise apartment complex for seniors in Tel Aviv, was completed. Mark Wilf, the Chairman of The Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees, spearheaded the effort in honor of his beloved father, with support from the Wilf Family Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach, the Harry and Janet Weinberg Foundation, the Claims Conference, Keren Hayesod and others.

This new development will allow The Jewish Agency to continue to ensure Israel’s founding generations and Holocaust survivors enjoy their golden years worry-free.

The Jewish Agency for Israel
The Jewish Agency for Israel