As soon as the Corona-virus vaccine proved to be a key to opening the door back to normality, countries around the world raced to vaccinate their population in hopes of creating a safer environment for everyone. However, one country in specific has different plans on its agenda.
The Israel Diaspora Affairs Ministry (DAM) announced that Israel will work to provide vaccinations for holocaust survivors both in Israel and in the Diaspora. The complex and international logistic operation is only beginning, as the Diaspora Affairs Minister, Omer Yankelevich, tasked the organization Shalom Corps to assist with the big mission. The DAM reached out to Pfizer and Moderna while Shalom Corps has been in contact with other large medical shipping companies all over the world to coordinate this massive effort. The plan is to set up vaccination centers in countries all around the world, and those who can’t leave their homes will have medical staff come to them. The DAM plans to acquire the funds through Jewish Philanthropists all over the world in order to purchase separate local vaccines as a means to not take away from the lot set for the population of Israel.
One of the main drives for the vaccination of the Holocaust survivors is the preservation of our people. “During this global crisis, we have an opportunity to support Holocaust survivors whose resilience continues to guide and inspire humanity today,” said Yankelevitch. “It is our collective obligation to safeguard this treasured yet vulnerable population in the spirit of mutual responsibility. Now is the time for all of us, Jewish institutions and leaders from across the world, to come together in this operation. Together, we can ensure that Holocaust survivors are efficiently vaccinated, wherever they live.”
Hatzalah, the volunteer emergency medical service, even contributed to the distribution of the vaccine to over twenty-thousand households in the past few weeks. These are people who cannot physically leave their house and are at high infection risk of the Covid-19 virus. “The importance of returning Holocaust survivors to our daily and social routine is a high priority for us,” said Claims Conference Vice President Shlomo Gur. “With the help of United Hatzalah, an organization with excellent operational capabilities, we will be able to bring housebound Holocaust survivors to be vaccinated and then meet with family, friends, and caregivers. We know that the last year has been particularly difficult, and therefore we will do anything we can to put an end to their social distancing.”
However, doing such a task has raised questions and many discussions have come upon the table. Many are questioning if this project is even feasible. An anonymous Haaretz source familiar with the Jewish Agency’s reaction saying that the officials in the organization were “shocked” and “outraged” when they saw a story on the idea which they called “abhorrent.” Still, Shalom Corps is pushing for the initiative strongly and Yankelevitch’s enthusiasm is not backing down.