The economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many families in Israel to seek aid before the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, as a food bank charity records an 86% increase in food aid applications compared to the same period last year.
Some of those seeking aid are households who have previously reported financial stability.
Michal is a single mother of three from the southern city of Be'er Sheva who works as a carer in a home for the elderly. She said she always provided for herself and her children but after months of the pandemic, her working hours diminished considerably, and she found herself struggling financially while the holidays are fast approaching.
"Rosh Hashanah last year was fun," says Michal. "We didn't want for anything - we had plenty. If it weren't for the coronavirus, we would have been fine and I could have bought what we needed. This Rosh Hashanah, we will have to make do."
Michal says she has racked up thousands of shekels worth of debt over the last few months.
"I can't always afford food," she says. "It's extremely hard for me when the kids complain there is not enough food, and although I try to buy the basics such as milk and cheese, we still need more."
Yigal and Yael Schwartz live on the Golan Heights with their five children, and despite having financial security before the pandemic, the contagion has cast a net of uncertainty over the family.
"This time last year my business was really taking off," says Yigal. "It was the start of a very good year. This year though opens with terrible ambiguity. We have no idea what's going to happen next, all I know is that it can't go on like this."
Eight years ago, Yigal and Yael had a daughter with a very severe heart defect. Having lost his job due to all the time spent at the hospital, Yigal decided to open his own business providing music and lighting to social events.
"I come from a field that closes first and opens last," says Yigal. "It took a long time for me to start up my business, but ultimately it was successful until the coronavirus pandemic ruined everything. I feel like the rug has been pulled right from under me, it's a hard feeling."
According to Adi Egozi, a district manager for Latet, the charity has seen a 86% increase in the number of people seeking aid since the start of the pandemic.
"We get a lot applications for aid and not necessarily from the sectors we are used to, such as seniors, Holocaust survivors and new arrivals to the country," says Egozi. "There is also concern that the number of applications will only increase in the winter months."
Those wishing to donate to the needy vLatet can do so here.