The outbreak of the coronavirus has kept the general population largely in their homes, and many of the country's senior citizens are feeling left behind as they cannot buy provisions or medicine, or even see their family members due to a higher risk of infection.
Yocheved Levi, an 86-year-old Haifa resident says the loneliness is the most difficult aspect.
“I’m depressed my girls cannot come to visit me," she says. "I sit in front of the television and radio all day long, making me even more depressed. It makes my head hurts but what are you going to do, talk to the walls?”
The quarantine has transformed even the most mundane of daily tasks into a challenge, Levy says.
“I don’t go outside, and if I take out the trash I cover my nose and mouth," she says. "I’m trying to live in the moment and pray for it to all be over.”
Cherna David, an 82-year-old resident of Holon, is also isolation and also having a hard time buying groceries.
“Unlike the young people I can’t go outside to buy groceries, I need to order a delivery,” she says. “I tried all the chains, but all of them said they cannot deliver the groceries in less than 10 days.”
But the logistical difficulties aren't the worst part, says Cherna, the loneliness is.
“I've been at home for two weeks now," she says. "I used to go to a seniors club to play and workout a little, but now I’ve been told I cannot go outside at all.
"I’m trying to get through this without causing problems for my children. There are days when I’m basically clawing at the walls, but I don’t want to die from coronavirus.”
Esther Fedder Greene is a blind 80-year-old widow also in quarantine in Holon.
“It’s hard but I have grown accustomed to the loneliness. Everyone needs company and help; without social services providing a home help once a week I couldn’t get by, but what are you going to do?”
The philanthropic organization International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is working to supply the senior population with deliveries of food and hygiene products.
“Israel is dealing with an unprecedented state of emergency,” said the organization’s president Yael Eckstein.
“We are all committed to help the country’s weakest population, who are in danger unless help is provided,” she said.
Prof. Yitzhak Birk, the director of the Israel Gerontological Society, has no small criticism for the authorities' conduct during the coronavirus crisis.
“The government has decided to close all the senior centers, what will happen now to the tens of thousand of seniors who are now stuck at home alone?” he said.
Birk warned that aside from the loneliness, a quarter of a million seniors who are reliant on external help are now stuck at home alone with no aid whatsoever.
“What is the solution offered by social services?" he said. "Giving the families of these seniors money instead of treatment is nothing less than moral bankruptcy.”