Coronavirus Updates: Steps We Are Taking and Immediate Needs
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis continues to spread, and travel bans and quarantine requirements are rapidly going into effect in Israel and elsewhere, The Jewish Agency for Israel’s first priority is protecting the health and safety of the organization’s staff, beneficiaries, participants, and delegations around the world.
We are working closely with Israel’s Ministry of Health and other relevant bodies and with local partners, dealing with services and work related to the thousands of olim (immigrants to Israel), program participants, Shlichim (Israeli emissaries), our missions, and others on the ground in affected areas. The well-being of our constituents and yours is our prime concern, and we are taking all necessary steps, as required by health authorities wherever we operate, to minimize risks and mitigate challenges.
For questions, contact us at 212-339-6000.
The Jewish Agency has a long history of responding quickly to crises, and this is no exception. We have established an Organizational Coordinating Forum, which convenes daily to assess the quickly-evolving developments of the virus and then formulate instructions to the organization, handling challenges and trying to maintain the continuity our programs while also protecting the health of our participants and staff. At the same time, a wider Emergency Forum is dealing with issues and questions from the field that require decisions by Chairman Isaac Herzog or Director General Amira Ahronoviz, monitoring staff and beneficiaries in quarantine, preparing contingency plans for various scenarios, and sharing information.
Jewish Agency staff: The Human Resources Unit has details on all employees who are in quarantine and is providing them with support as needed and all staff have been given instructions on travel plans, quarantine, hygiene, etc. Additionally, all our staff have been working from home since mid-March and will continue to do so.
Shlichim: Given our Israeli emissaries interact with so many community constituents, Shlichim have been told to follow the instructions of their local health authorities, and that any travel (state to state, country to country) is suspended until further notice. Shlichim based in Italy are able to return to Israel if they choose and enter into quarantine.
ShinShinim (gap-year Israeli emissaries): We are in regular contact with our young ShinShinim, their parents, who are understandably very concerned, and their supervisors. The ShinShinim serving in the Westchester community in New York, which has had the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the state, have already flown home. As of Friday, March 13, 150 ShinShinim who were working in the U.S. are being sent home to Israel where they will enter quarantine for two weeks.
Aliyah: Immigration to Israel is continuing at a controlled and limited scale. In conjunction with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and in coordination with the Ministry of Health, The Jewish Agency is implementing special comprehensive emergency procedures for bringing new immigrants to Israel during the upcoming period so as to safely absorb them in Israel, in full compliance with the relevant authorities in Israel. The Jewish Agency has created a video called “Making Aliyah During the Coronavirus Pandemic” providing updated information for new immigrants.
Olim and other beneficiaries living in or using Jewish Agency facilities: Our Aliyah, Absorption and Special Operations Unit, in coordination with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, is sharing information with olim and others living in Jewish Agency facilities. We have prepared apartments in our residential programs and acquired emergency supplies and other assistance specifically for olim who need to be quarantined. For olim who may not require quarantine, we have explained to them the implications of making Aliyah at this time as we want to protect their health as well.
All delegations and missions: Any mission or delegation set to leave or come to Israel has been canceled until further notice as traveling into Israel from anywhere is currently likely to result in obligatory self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Other travel and expeditions abroad are also prohibited.
Amigour: In Amigour’s nursing departments, where hundreds of senior citizens requiring nursing care live, restrictions on visits have been imposed, in full compliance with the Ministry of Health’s instructions, and medical equipment and food provisions have been purchased to cover the next six months. In addition, Amigour is making preparations to ensure the wellbeing of about 7,000 senior citizens, most of whom are new immigrants or Holocaust survivors, who are residing in its 57 assisted living facilities throughout Israel.
Jewish Agency subsidiary companies: Most subsidiaries have been affected in one way or another by the virus, and we are adapting in compliance with Ministry of Health guidelines so basic activities can continue, barring large events. Programs such as Project TEN and Israel Tech Challenge may need to cancel cohorts or market themselves only to Israelis for the time being.
Please continue to check this page for news and information as we will post updates as the situation changes.